Ah, the Welrod, perhaps the worst gun in shooter history.
Originally a PS3/Xbox 360 release seven years ago, Sniper Elite v2 is getting a fairly surprising second life courtesy of developer Rebellion, which co-published the original versions alongside 505 Games. With improved graphics and all previous DLC in tow, Sniper Elite v2 Remastered is now a thing on PS4, XB1 and Nintendo Switch. That means it’s time to find out if the tactical third-person shooter really warranted the Lazarus treatment.
While it wasn’t the most refined experience when it launched, Sniper Elite v2 feels even clunkier today. There’s just no precision to movement, sprinting or getting in and out of cover – and don’t even get us started on how slowly you move when crouched. It’s all serviceable, but that’s as complimentary as we’ll go on it. The decision to make your sniper so ordinary with his secondary weapons is still mystifying as well, as even if you crouch and wait for an enemy, the reticule never shrinks down enough for really accurate shooting.
Luckily, the game is still fun when taking part in its signature activity: sniping. Your heart rate is shown in the corner of the screen, and when you’re calm you can “empty your lungs,” which slows time and creates a precise firing point. Snapping off those rounds and watching the bullet sail through the air to pierce your hapless target remains as fun now as it was in 2012.
We wouldn’t consider this game a looker at any point in its lifecycle, and whatever improvements have been made to polish it up can’t hide its last-gen roots. Everything feels closed off, designed to usher you through a pretty narrow path. Even the “open” areas aren’t very open. Despite that, the Kill Cam still delivers the goods, shattering bones and popping organs. It’s visceral and grisly, making for some of the coolest isolated moments seen in a shooter.
There isn’t a lot of dialogue, and what’s there underwhelms. The sound effects haven’t aged very well, either, creating a sort of distorted effect. At least the echoing shot of your gun is still good.
World War II is coming to a close, and the time is at hand for the United States and Soviet Union to “recruit” the top Nazi scientists to further their own military agendas. Set in Germany circa 1945, Sniper Elite v2 puts you in the combat boots of Karl Fairburne, an OSS (Office of Strategic Services) agent whose job is to extract certain Nazi scientists and eliminate those set to join the communists.
Each mission follows a similar structure: traverse an area via a sequence of checkpoints, quell hostile resistance and then either collect critical documents or kill/save a high-value target. The onus is on methodical, stealth-based advancement as Fairburne is far more effective when concealed and able to pick off enemy targets from range.
Get spotted and soldiers will flank your position almost without fail, even if it means a long, meandering path that often makes it tough to keep track of how many foes are still alive and where exactly they are at any given moment. That’s a byproduct of the uneven A.I., which looks to have been left untouched.
Sometimes soldiers will circle around, cutting through buildings to get the drop on you, while at other times they’ll go prone in a wide open area, making them easy pickings. Enemy accuracy is generally high, and snipers will cut you down if you leave yourself exposed for too long.
We’ve already touched on the clunky mid- and close-range gunplay, but allow us to reiterate: these missions are built with a careful pace in mind, and although it can be frustrating to line up foes with your Thompson and miss, it absolutely serves the purpose of making sniping your first, second and third options for fighting groups of soldiers.
That isn’t to say all you’ll do is snipe, however, as you’ll also have a handful of different offensive and defensive explosives at your disposal. When holding a position, mines and trip mines are invaluable tools to keep the aforementioned flanking enemies from gunning you down while you’re obliviously focused on their comrades. Grenade tosses are accurate and offer a realistic range, and dynamite can be placed and then subsequently sniped for crowd control.
In addition to the campaign, which should run around six hours, the Remastered version includes three DLC missions, all of which are pretty fun and add another hour or so to the single-player offerings. There’s also a wave defense challenge and a handful of online co-operative modes. These modes are highlighted by Overwatch, which has one player serve as a sniper while the other moves along the ground and spots enemies.
A flawed game at its release, Sniper Elite v2 Remastered missed an opportunity to clean up more than the graphics. Despite that, the hook of the Kill Cam and unique, methodical approach allow it retain much of its initial appeal. If you missed it the first time around it’s worth checking out for sniping aficionados.