Sniper Elite V2

Released: 03/05/2012
Developer: Rebellion
Publisher: Rebellion
Format played: PC
Hours played: 20
Last played: 05/06/2012

Sniper Elite V2 was kind of a surprise for me. I’d played the first game a little a while back, then when I saw a sequel was coming I thought it was going to be a modernised version of the original. I wasn’t entirely wrong, but I wasn’t entirely right either. SEV2 is, unfortunately, the latest in a long line of games that have been ‘dumbed down’ to appeal to the largest number of people possible. It does away with Sniper Elite’s variable movement speed, camo indicator and long-range shots, amongst many other things, in favour of a more close-range, run & gun type game, which is a somewhat bizarre choice for a game with such a title. To be fair, though, Sniper Elite was bloody difficult to play properly so you can see why they sought to turn it down a little.

Fortunately, they kept the bullet physics. You can choose the realism, too, you have no bullet drop like you might have in Call of Duty 10: Modern Warfare 19, bullet drop as you would find in Arma II and Battlefield, or, something I’ve not seen in any other game so far, bullet drop and wind affectivity. There’s probably a better word for that. This makes the sniping both fun and challenging, there’s nothing quite like getting truly ‘in the zone’ and landing shot after shot dead-on where you intended when you have to compensate for wind and gravity.

You already know, of course, about the X-ray kill cam and the incredibly thick AI which doesn’t really suit the game. My feelings on the X-ray camera is that it’s gruesome and sometimes I’d actually prefer to not see it, but it is actually quite a fascinating device for that very reason. It’s often said in the media and elsewhere that people are becoming desensitised to violence and all that and I used to agree, but SEV2 kind of makes up for the detachment that comes from shooting people who are essentially imaginary and trapped in a fake, 3D world which is presented to the player by a moving 2D image made of light by showing you exactly what’s going on when you shoot someone, and peoples’ varied reactions to it have been a really interesting thing to read on various forums and such.

The AI, on the other hand, is undeniably rubbish. In every film you see where there’s a sniper on the loose, people keep their heads down and try to get the sniper to expose themselves, right? So why, in a game all about sniping, do the AI just charge about like lunatics? What about tactics? Not once did I see an AI put their helmet on the end of their gun and pop it above the cover they’re behind to get me to reveal my position (there was a helmet on a rifle at one point but shooting it didn’t result in your swift death at the hands (bullets?) of a watchful counter-sniper) or anything like that. I’m sure they had smoke grenades in World War II. If I’m a specialised kind of soldier, why not design the AI so that it responds accordingly to the specific threat you pose? I was kind of hoping for some Enemy at the Gates type stuff but in reality it was just like any other shooter, except instead of me choosing to use the sniper rifle all the time, I was given the sniper rifle all the time.

However, the single worst thing about the game for me was the fact that the longest shot is about 400 metres, and even that requires setting up. Yes, that’s still quite far, but the original gave you the opportunity to hit targets up to a kilometer away. My record headshot in Battlefield 3 is in excess of 600 metres, and 600 metre kills in Arma II are pretty much commonplace as they’re pretty much the only way to kill stuff without being killed instantly in return, so it’s pretty annoying that a game whose entire premise is the art of sniping doesn’t even match it’s own predecessor nor it’s more general peers.

As it is, SEV2 would have been utterly unremarkable if it hadn’t been for the bullet physics and X-ray camera. The multiplayer mode was basically what I imagine any third person shooter being set to snipers only mode to be like and I was never able to play a co-op game but to be fair I only tried twice. The scoreboard encourages you to re-play the game to beat your score, which is great, but isn’t nearly enough to keep you actually playing the game. I finished the game in about ten hours, the other 20 was spent re-playing my favourite levels to try and complete them using made up rules; no scopes, perfect accuracy, headshots only, stealth, that sort of thing. That was great fun while it lasted, but I feel no need to return to it now.

TL, DR: Great bullet physics and the X-ray camera is definitely interesting, but the AI’s inappropriate response to your presence and the lack of properly long shots just don’t fit the sniper theme.

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