Poor, poor Sniper Elite V2. Here was a game that could’ve been great, innovative, or at the very least noteworthy. Unfortunately however, what Sniper Elite V2 actually is, is 11 linear corridors full of stupid AI Nazis. It’s bland, awkward, strangely barren to the point of feeling like a HD update and ultimately very, very short.
Yes, the core sniping mechanic still rings triumphant, as piercing through the part-crunchy, part-gooey interior’s of skeleton-men NPCs is fantastic and hugely rewarding. The writing’s on the wall however, as this one trick pony can’t sing a symphony with one note alone.
Re-reading my preview for Sniper, written just over a month ago having had hands-on time with the game, I think it was fair to say that I was smitten. And that’s because Sniper makes a great first impression, that’s if you skip the awkward and confusing tutorial to get your teeth sunk into the first gory kill cam of the match. Because simulating realistic ballistics and emergent destruction is what Sniper has down to the letter, it’s just the rest of the game that stinks so badly.
Whether it’s constantly forcing you into claustrophobic interior stealth sequences where your cookie cutter character just isn’t mechanically equipped to succeed (being, you know, a sniper) or forcing you to watch low-res, poorly produced cut scenes at the end of each level, there’s just so much the game does to actively stop you from enjoying it.
When you’re out in the open, looking for targets, racking up the body bags and counter sniping, the game is fantastic. Who cares if a video game is short and the story is purely perfunctory? If the mechanics are genuinely fun, then you’ll always find ways to amuse yourself. And that’s really why playing Sniper is such a heart breaking shame: because the mechanics are great, there’s just not enough room to really sit and enjoy them.
In the rare moments of freedom where you’re able to tackle a goal as you see fit, the game shines. Unfortunately however, this new insistence on linearity means you’ll be walking down corridors, watching NPCs spawn in the same places every time you play. Using advanced tactics, like employing trip mines to cover your flanks, are useful –but only once. On a second playthrough everything is so familiar there’s no element of surprise you have to account for. By that stage you know where the enemies will be coming from and you’ll be lazily trying to score a few more moving headshots.
I finished the game in just over six hours and then finished it again on ‘Sniper Elite’, the hard mode that asks you to account for wind as well as gravity, in just under another six. There’s multiplayer here, with some few interesting modes like kill tally (horde mode lite) and a co-op campaign option, but what with the AI being so dumb, there’s no real finesse or shelf life here unless you can find a partner as willing to commit as you.
All in all Sniper Elite V2 passes through quickly enough. It’s a polite guest not out-staying it’s welcome, and yeah you’ll have some laughs as the game does have one or two really great moments, and yes it’ll piss you off with his boorish ways, but ultimately you won’t even think about this game come a month from now.