When you pick up a game like Sniper Elite V2, you’re not exactly filled with confidence. There’s something about not-quite-double-A titles that are a real joy, but also something of a let-down (see Th3 Plan for an excellent example).
They’re of particular interest to me though, as there’s often an uncompromising nature to the gameplay, and personally I find that particularly interesting. Or at very least there’s often less of a feeling of design by committee and that, I think, is a great direction for games to go. Before I even picked up Sniper Elite V2, I knew it was going to be a 6 or 7/10 game with some interesting elements, but lacking the quality to make it genuinely great.
Sadly, I was right on the money.
Sniper Elite V2 is a remake of a 2005 game by the same studio, Rebellion. I played a fair amount of that title, and loved the concept. It was unforgiving, but Rebellion definitely seemed to have something a little special on their hands. I would question, however, the sense in remaking something seven years later that doesn’t really improve on the basic idea. This is pretty much the same game, just with a nicer skin and a few small gameplay tweaks. In many ways, I would prefer to think that Rebellion didn’t spend too much time on Sniper Elite V2, and are just releasing it as part of a quick moneymaking drive.
There are simply too many missed opportunities here for it to have been a title that a serious developer has put any real thought into. The meat of the game is crying out for a considered multiplayer element. As is stands though, the single player campaign is competent, but little more, and the multiplayer campaign doesn’t really work too well. What’s missing is any kind of difference in the play styles of each of the two characters. This is implemented excellently in one of the multiplayer modes but doesn’t feature in the main game at all, really. To have two different weapon load-outs and two different play styles would have worked wonderfully throughout the main game, but sadly, that just hasn’t happened.
The other main gripe I have is the solid, uncompromising linearity of the piece. I haven’t played a game quite as linear as this in a long time. In essence, each section of each game is a set piece of sniping followed by more under-pressure sniping if you cock it up. This doesn’t really work overly well, as the sniper rifle seems to be the most devastating weapon known to humanity, and you definitely feel like you have the upper hand in most situations, simply because you have such a destructive weapon in your hands. I have to say that when you get it right, the personal reward is immense. The trouble is that it so rarely happens. One small cock-up and you have half the German army after you. That rarely makes things too much more difficult, but it does take much of the fun out of sniping. For a sniping-based game, that’s not good.
Overwatch, for me, was the real highlight. This multiplayer mode separates you from your team mate and sees one person sniping, while the other works the ground. Offering cover while your team mate spots enemies and completes the missions below you is exactly the direction this game needed to go. Sadly, there are only a handful of overwatch missions and once you have a respectable score, you’re unlikely to go back.
And that’s probably the biggest drawback of Sniper Elite V2. In reality it’s something of a score-attack game. Combined with the linearity of the campaign mode, that makes for a very old-fashioned title. This could have been a genuinely progressive title that cashed in on the obvious gaps in the co-op market, but no.
Fortunately, it’s a reasonably high-quality title, with only minor glitches and annoyances. Indeed, as the few hours of single player sniping went, I enjoyed it greatly. I’m never going to come back to it though, making the score-attack element entirely redundant. I guess that this is a problem with developers being a little too self indulgent, and perhaps a little to egotistical to realise that their game is not going to be received by the mass market in exactly the way they want it to. I honestly can’t see anyone playing through the campaign in single player or co-op more than once.
I think without any real hook past the slo-mo kill cams, Sniper Elite V2 simply doesn’t stick out enough to offer you anything you can’t get elsewhere. You can make it as difficult or as easy as you like, and the number of options for customising the difficulty is enough to have fun with, but to be honest, I have more fun sniping on Battlefield 3.
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