The lights are on
A sniper worth seeing...
Sniper Elite V2 is first and foremost a tactical game about enjoyment of the carnage you cause or have the abilities to cause as one of WWII's best snipers. The best part is that you can watch the visual mayhem that ensues in an x-ray kill-cam mode that looks like something out of Mortal Kombat, and is about as gory- if not more so. As Tim said in his official magazine review, this is truly a game created for gore hounds and sadists alike- as the kills cater to the hardiest slasher flick fans out there with their exploding heads and other spontaneous deaths littered about. Although it is inevitable that such a system would be abused for unabashed enjoyment by all sorts of players, thankfully the game is also a fun and enjoyable sniper romp through the soviet-controlled territories of WWII, which prove to be ripe for the picking in terms of both action and cinematic deaths as a result.
As it is the most rewarding aftereffect in a game that I've played in a long while, I'll go ahead and preach about the slow motion kill-cam really quick for a second here. Whenever you line up a killing blow or precisely placed shot, you are instantly shown the path the bullet travels in ultra slow motion as it speeds off towards your unwary victim. As the bullet realistically continues it's unstoppable spiral of destruction and doom, you also get to watch in glorious animation as it pierces whatever targeted body part or location in x-ray vision. Your Nazi enemies react quite realistically to the pieces of metal and lead that tear them to pieces throughout the game, and the details- gory and glorious as they are, only make it even more enjoyable to get back at Hitler and his gang over fifty years in the future, one bullet at a time. The kills never get old, as you will always discover a new body part you are able to destroy with gusto- and, sensitive as some may be towards video game violence, please note that this is as much of a warning of what's to come as it is a prideful speech on a neat feature.
Not only is this a sniper game that proves to go above and beyond to be realistic and action-packed, but it takes that realism to a whole new level with efficient scoping techniques, heart rate filters, and even allowing for attention to bullet drop as your distance increases. This not only makes it a more difficult and realistic approach to a fun and innovative shooter, but also one that allows for the greatest satisfaction when you finally nail that crafty kill or earn an especially pleasing nutshot on a lone gunman far away. If realism isn't quite your thing however, there are traditional options to take away some of the realistic touches and replace them with normal FPS mechanics on bullet effects and heart rate control. Of course, this takes away most of the difficulty and fun as well, so you might as well play with the other mechanics included for the full experience.
While the occasional annoyance or minor bug and technical issue may interfere with your gameplay by stopping bullets magically in mid-air, or performing other feats worthy of a spot in the most recent Wolfenstein game's Nazi spellcasters' powers, they do not entirely ruin the game at any one point. The best and often most lackluster part about Sniper Elite V2 is the fact that you can play as any mix of character as you want- whether you go all out stealth techniques or the more action-packed shooter path, it matters not. One major complaint in relation to the stealth side of things however is that- despite all of your unique tools available to take out and sneak past guards, often enough your streak is cut short by AI able to see through doors and other objects in their paths, or otherwise spot you with their eyes placed in the back of their head. As annoying as this is, the sad fact that every enemy spawns more units when you are discovered makes it even worse- because they don't spawn in diverse locations such as towers or on the ground, but often in the same place- making it not so much a hardcore sniper challenge, but a minor annoyance instead.
The greatest thing however, is the amount of action that even a beginning level player can experience and cause. Whether its shooting explosive barrels in classic shooter form, taking out soldiers covertly throughout a rainstorm that sounds like all hades is breaking loose around you, or infiltrating meetings and putting a bullet sized dent in a Nazi operation- you can accomplish any and everything you want, however you want. One of the greatest things about the game and its extreme tour de force all throughout Europe is the fact that the levels are many and varied, as well as diverse and interesting story-related areas too. Even better is the fact that you can experience the same thunder with a partner for double the action. Whether it be silently taking down enemies or blowing up some nearby facility, two makes for even more action- as if that were even possible to begin with.
Although there is no true online competitive multiplayer, you can enjoy the grand fun of working with a teammate in order to completely disfigure and dismantle a host of Nazi-related military operations through quite a few modes. In one, you must scavenge vehicle parts all the while defending yourself from enemy attack as you repair your getaway vehicle and race off across the battlefield. In another mode, you meet a knockoff of every Onslaught and Horde mode ever created, as you take on wave after wave of enemies and hope that you manage to see the light of day at the end of things. With objectives and missions in multiplayer cooperative modes such as these, you encounter a range of varying difficulties and options, and you also get to enjoy it with another partner in crime the whole way through. Sure, there's no classic one on one sniper battles, and some of the gamemodes are incredibly lackluster and boring- but they are fun nonetheless for the most part, and offer an intuitive and interesting cooperative experience in addition to the strikingly violent and dark single player one.
All in all, this shooter is far from perfect, but an incredibly fun and enjoyable Nazi-hunting experience that leaves you with an air of accomplishment after its completion. Even better is the fact that you can join in on the fun with a friend, even if that is not in a truly online mode or any sort of competitive multiplayer game. Aside from a few minor flaws in this stellar action title, you're set and all ready to launch the sniper missiles from the outset...
Concept: Shoot lots of Nazis, enjoy the mayhem with a partner in crime, and secure your place as one of the most famous Soviet snipers in the history of the war.
Graphics: While nothing to truly scoff or act in awe at, the gory visuals air with a realistic and unimaginable side of action and slice of the sniper pie, all rolled together into this one little package.
Sound: Although it is probably the weakest of the game's aspects in terms of depth and allowance, every meaty crunch of bone and grit when a bullet connects with leg or face is extremely satisfying to hear, even if the repeatedly shouted orders in German cover it up at times throughout the gameplay.
Playability: Despite minor annoyances in the form of glitches and bugs all throughout the entire game, nothing satisfies more than blowing a hole through your opponents skull- one bullet at a time.
Entertainment: The action never really halts throughout the campaign- especially in the incredibly enjoyable cooperative modes, and all the while- you know it's building up to that moment where you take Hitler's smug grin off of his face with a very happy bullet.
Replay Value: Moderate
Overall Score: 8.5