A Cat-and-Mouse Alternative to Run-and-Gun - shootist2600 Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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A Cat-and-Mouse Alternative to Run-and-Gun

When trying to convince a friend to play Sniper Elite V2, he worried that the game would be too slow. Ironically I consider that its greatest strength. The tactical gameplay rewards a more cautious approach than is common to many first person shooters, especially when playing against real opponents online.

Of course my friend's sentiment is shared by many fans of the genre who prefer the run and gun gameplay common to FPS competitive multiplayer. Indeed, I'd ranked up in Call of Duty: World at War and Modern Warfare 2, Battlefield: Bad Company and Killzone 2. But I've tired of the formula with each new sequel.

It's no exaggeration to say that Rebellion's reboot of its last gen Sniper Elite game goes a long way to restoring my faith in FPS multiplayer gameplay. The campaign itself was entertaining, especially when played cooperatively; but playing Deathmatch feels like a revelation in the multiplayer arena.

Rebellion has the sniping mechanic down pat. This is no small feat as many have tried but few have implemented as deep or rewarding a feature considering the variety of factors the developer has included that can impact this gameplay element alone. (See links above for more details.)

As in the campaign, there are a few difficulty settings that relate to sniping as well as other aspects of gameplay. I prefer the Marksman setting, which uses bullet drop and breathing as factors when shooting. Other settings include game mode, map, time and score limits, damage, weapons and private or public slots.

I've been playing with our own Jeremy Brown/mojomonkey12, my regular co-op buddy and all around super nice guy. That said, I won't hesitate to pull the trigger when he's in my crosshairs! Especially given his tendency to teamkill me or draw me into an ill-advised firefight. (You knew that was coming, Jeremy!)

We've sampled all the maps (Quarry, Graves, Opernplatz, Church, Kreuzberg and Beach?), and each one is exceptionally designed and one reason multiplayer is a joy to play. For the record, we played on the PS3, where multiplayer is free DLC.

The map shown above is a more open design than others, however, there is a lot of cover in the form of partially collapsed homes in this village setting, with a few multistory buildings spread out for better vantage points. With two players, the maps are expansive, covering a lot of ground.

At one point, I saw Jeremy in the room below the bell tower, but he stayed on the move, forcing me to abandon my position in search for him. Contrary to the concerns expressed by my friend at the outset of this blog, the game is not too slow and does not necessarily reward camping.

Yes, it is relatively slower than many of its genre counterparts but, as in the campaign, sniping in one spot indefinitely will lead to your demise. Once you've given your position away and have forced your opponent(s) from their location, the best strategy is to move on.

That said, when you do find a good vantage point from which to observe the large maps, it's wise to deploy defensive measures such as land mines (above) or trip wires. On the occasion when your foe decides to hunt you down, they can prove invaluable.

A word of caution, though. Deploy them carefully as your supply is limited, if I recall, to one of each, as well as one or two hand grenades. At the start of a match, you can customize your loadout. However, choices in this regard are limited, as opposed to weapons choice, which is more varied.

Thankfully you have several sniper rifles to choose from, with each sacrificing one strength in favor of another, so weighing one's options is important. And if you choose to play with more than a sniper rifle, choices also involve the kind of assault rifle and sidearm you wield.

A carryover from the campaign seems to be flawed targeting and hit detection when using any weapon besides your sniper rifle. On at least a few occasions I quickly ran out of ammo for my assault rifle when in a firefight with Jeremy, and we seem to absorb more than a little punishment.

The above scorecard is less a reflection of our aptitude than my initial camping and preoccupation with taking screenshots. Though we figure Jeremy must have run right past my position beside the stone wall next to the church, as he circled the map in search of me. In his defense, I am a wallflower, so ...

The above map not only presented quite a challenge in the campaign but also in Deathmatch as it is wide and line of sight is obstructed by many structures including buildings and equipment. The cover of darkness also adds a welcome challenge.

Despite having the drop on Jeremy (above), I misjudged the distance and bullet drop, allowing him to escape. An interesting sidenote, from my vantage point most of my shots appeared to miss, sending up puffs of dirt; but Jeremy insisted I hit him a few times.

Jeremy took advantage of my miscalculation to score I think the longest kill of our gaming session. In a nice touch, the person who scores a kill often gets a killcam, however brief, showing the hit. It's an abbreviated variation on the slo-mo bullet cam from the campaign, but a nice element.

I found myself too often on the business end of Jeremy's sniper rifle in this match (above), but he took advantage of the copious cover to move often and quickly. Indeed, I spotted him on several occasions but he usually was on the run from cover to cover.

Another element besides the killcam that makes a welcome reappearance from the campaign is the arcade type scoring, in particular as it relates to longest shots. The scorecard is nowhere near as deep in terms of stats tracking, but at least matches recognize this one stat, which of course is integral to a sniping game.

Besides distance, the match will note -- in game -- such stats as longest shot, scoring leader, etc. It's a nice element for those who keep score, in particular for bragging rights, and contributes to the competitive nature of online matches, particularly when such scoring factors more heavily in the outcome.

This is true of game modes Distance King and Team Distance King (which join Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch to round out the game's suite of multiplayer options). Distance King scores matches based on cumulative distance of kill shots, and as such is a nice tweak to DM/TDM.

If there's any shortcoming of Sniper Elite V2's multiplayer offering, it's that the game modes are not as varied or deep as the modes offered by its competitors. However, as free DLC it's a high quality addition, and as suggested can be considered a welcome and needed supplement to the genre's standard online fare.

(Above) Now you see him, now you don't. Here today, gone tomorrow. Easy come, easy go. Heeheehee. Sorry, Jeremy, I couldn't resist. Consider us even.

(Above) Hey, I said we were even! In a surreal scene, I respawned in the same room as I was killed, and was forced to see my own corpse. Does this qualify as an out of body experience? Speaking of respawning, it appears implemented in an arbitrary fashion.

On the previous map, I respawned in the same area, which didn't help me avoid Jeremy's keen eye. But usually one seems to respawn in the same general vicinity but far enough to avoid spawn camping. And once or twice, I think I respawned in the same building as Jeremy.

There are few moments that will quicken your pulse as much as surveying the battlefield only to find your opponent has you in their sights! This happened on several occasions and resulted in the most funny, panicked scenarios of who could pull the trigger first -- and accurately!

That said, in a similar moment as this I was able to kill Jeremy though he was incredulous, complaining that he couldn't even see me behind cover in order to get a clean shot off. This isn't rare for online shooters but of course can be frustrating in a game as precise as Sniper Elite, though in our session I think it happened once.

Our matches were fairly evenly matched and typically resulted in three kills for either or both in the span of 15 minutes. This might indeed be a pace too slow for many fans of the genre, however, I'd argue that there is no less tension, suspense or excitement from a well played game of cat and mouse.

The maps provide so much cover in the form of collapsed buildings or intact structures and are so spread out that mobility is not only necessary to cover ground and find your adversary but is well balanced so as not to be frustrating or too easy in relation to the sniping mechanic.

The variety of cover and myriad elevations make for dynamic maps that require careful exploration whether on foot or stationary. The gameplay is simple enough to jump into but requires careful strategy when deciding whether and where to camp or to move. Jeremy and I did both in equal measure, making for some fun matches.

Besides map design, production values are top quality. Attention to detail in the campaign really helped immerse gamers in the setting, and competitive multiplayer is no exception. Landscape and interior details are excellent, with complex textures and great draw distance. Plus animation is well implemented, which is integral to effective sniping.

The animation was in full effect when Jeremy ran away from this encounter (see his back to the right of the crosshairs, above). In truth he wasn't aware of my position, and in true form was wisely keeping on the move.

Unfortunately for Jeremy, his quick reflexes lost to mine in this particular encounter. However, Sniper Elite V2's competitive multiplayer is well balanced in general. Our gaming session was fairly even as Jeremy and I split our matches whether in DM or Distance King.

I have not played TDM or TDK, but even to judge only by DM and DK, Rebellion has crafted a thoroughly rewarding competitive multiplayer component. My only regret is that I didn't know this free DLC was available from Day One but Jeremy and I are catching up.

It should be noted that more than playing Jeremy and I use our online sessions to catch up and shoot the breeze in general. So server stability and mic support is very important, and in that regard SEV2 does not disappoint! Despite inconsistent mics in the lobby, matches offer clear communication and zero lag.

For anyone who wants an entertaining and quality alternative to the standard run and gun arcade action of most FPS multiplayer game modes, Sniper Elite V2 will let you scratch an itch you might not have known you had. It's hands down a rewarding option for fans of the genre.

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