The lights are on
Digital life is cheap. The average gamer has racked up
countless enemy kills, from Nazis to aliens, and everything in between. While most
shooters offer nonstop action, the original Sniper Elite put a premium on
strategy and patience. If you're not killing your enemy with a single bullet,
you're not doing your job. This characteristic once again rang true in my
recent hands-on time with Sniper Elite V2, and the new x-ray kill cam had me
contemplating the consequences of pulling the trigger.
The mission I played involved infiltrating the Mittelwerk
Facility, a real life factory the Nazis used to manufacture V-2 guided missiles
during the war. I had already killed a Dr. Gunther Kriedl in the previous
mission, who was carrying intel that led me to the location. The bullet that
killed Kriedl earned me my first "2 for 1" bonus, by tearing its way through
the midsection of a fleeing Nazi soldier before lodging itself in the crouching
doctor's chest. Like many shots to come, these kills were highlighted by a slow
motion view of the bullet traveling along its path, before triggering an x-ray
view of the internal damage the projectile caused its victims. Score one for
the Allies – or two, as the case may be.
The x-ray cam shows the effects of a sniper's shot in gory detail
I start the Mittelwerk Facility mission behind the base of a
watchtower overlooking the main grounds of the facility. A second watchtower
sits far in the distance to the east, and a handful of guards patrol the
courtyard in predictable routines. This mission introduces the novel mechanic
of having to mask the sound of your shots with a blaring radio message that
intermittently plays over the grounds' loudspeakers – a symbol pops up in the
corner of the screen when it's safe to shoot. I quickly take out the guard
standing lookout in the tower above me, then sneak up to the top of the tower
for the second shot. I try to avoid using focus mode, which slows down time and
shows the precise location of where you bullet will hit, negating much of the
challenge. In Sniper Elite V2 you can independently customize enemy skill,
ballistic realism, and tactical assistance, allowing you to choose the amount
of realism you prefer. I kept tactical assistance on, but try to use it as
sparingly as possible.
Instead of using focus mode, I guesstimate the distance to
the next tower and compensate by aiming a few marks down on the reticule. My
first shot sails past the oblivious guard, but thanks to the unintelligible
message barking across the PA, no one is the wiser. I reload and aim a little
lower – overcompensating for bullet drop has already proven to be my Achilles
heel. I wait for my inadvertent German accomplice to start rambling again and
squeeze the trigger.
The game cuts away to another shot of the bullet exiting my
sniper rifle, a sure sign I've hit my target. This time the projectile strikes
the guard in the jaw, which erupts in a shower of bone fragments and teeth. His
disfigured corpse falls to the floor behind the railing of the watchtower, out
of sight of the patrolling soldiers. I reload and line up my next shot.
A gruesome, but not uncommon, sight in Sniper Elite V2
These slow motion kill shots prove to be the standout
feature of Sniper Elite V2, a just reward for the methodical and sometimes
unforgiving gameplay (made worse by sparse checkpoints in the levels I played).
But despite being about as jaded towards video game violence as you can get, I
couldn't help feeling slightly guilty for my enjoyment of the fetishistic level
of detail these cutaway sequences display. The amalgam of bones and organs the
x-ray camera reveals looks like the kind of model you might study in an anatomy
class – only with a lot more gore. Eyes rupture. Organs tear and gush blood. Testicles
explode. One of my shots rips through the hand of a rival sniper, shattering
the bones in his palm and causing his severed fingers to fly through the air,
as the wobbling shrapnel punctures his skull for the kill. Sniper Elite V2 is a
media frenzy waiting to happen, but the more I thought about the level of
violence on display, the more okay I was with it.
Sniper Elite V2 is gruesome, but not gratuitous. It
penalizes run and gun tactics; every shot counts, and every enemy encounter can
end your life. Whereas other games happily hand you weapons that can transform
your opponents into blood geysers, Sniper Elite V2's deadliest gun is exactly
what you'd expect from the title of the game. Hitting your mark requires you to
correct for distance, wind speed, bullet drop (my aforementioned weakness),
breathing, and even your heart rate. Why would the violence be any less
detailed? The deadliness produced from an accurate shot is a spectacle inherently
grounded in realism. Aside from the exploding nut shots, I suppose – although I
can't testify what effect a high caliber rifle bullet would have on that
particular part of the male anatomy.
Despite the realism, some kills are clearly meant to be entertaining
While I'm ultimate okay with Sniper Elite V2's graphic
violence, others surely won't be, and the game brings up the larger question of
glorifying violence for the sake of entertainment. There is no easy answer to
that issue, and every player will have to determine what he or she is
comfortable with. My best recommendation is to check out the demo and decide
What I played of Sniper Elite V2 has its problems. Enemies are
pretty clueless when it comes to the dying screams of their fellow soldiers,
and every now and then the gameplay strays from sniping and becomes
exponentially less fun (later in the Mittelwerk Facility mission, the game
committed the cardinal sin of triggering an alarm sequence during a cutscene,
negating all of my stealthy exploits leading up to it). Whether the final build
of the game fixes these issues remains to be seen, but the Sniper Elite
franchise continues to stand alone in how much detail it devotes to every
bullet fired, as well as the deadly aftermath they cause.
Email the author Jeff Marchiafava, or follow on Google+, Twitter, and Game Informer.
I really enjoyed the demo, so I suppose I should play this..
Didn't GameInformer have an classic GameInerfarcer where they previewed a game that was all about just shooting people and watching the bullets tear in slo-motion through muscle and nerves in gory detail?
I'm going to check my old issues in the attic, we may have another GameInfarcer prediction come true here.
The last game had a lot of issues, but it was still somewhat decent. This one is looking much better.
If it's better than the first, then it's a must buy.
Interesting. I like the X-ray shots idea. I wonder how this game will compare to the other major sniping games, particularly Sniper Ghost Warrior 2.
this looks amazing
I LOVE the xray kills!
Ugh. they should have a Dlc were they show a real dissection of a human.
I have a feeling that this game might be repetitive, with seeing the too many slow-mo kills throughout the game to be a day one buy. Most likely going to rent it though, cause it will be entertaining as hell blow the testicles off Nazis.
Hadn't given this game much thought till now defintly will be a game i get though.