(Originally written July 13, 2012)
The first Sniper Elite was a third-person tactical shooter that came out in 2005 and stood out as very different from most WWII games. It was set during the Battle of Berlin and you played as American OSS sniper Karl Fairburne, a West Point graduate specially selected for this mission because of his childhood spent in Berlin. His mission is to sneak into Berlin dressed as a German sniper and stop the Russian NKVD from getting a hold of the Nazi nuclear program. He works with local resistance and other OSS agents to get the job done. Keep all this set up in mind because I am going to be making a point of it later. You used stealth, camouflage, and booby traps to sneak and sniper through the remains of the city as the Germans and Russians battle around you. One of the game’s major gimmicks was the bullet kill cam which was triggered when the player made an extreme range kill which lead to a mini cut scene where the camera fallowed the bullet in slow-mo as it hit its target. It was very gratifying to get. The game also had realistic bullet ballistics. When you took a shot, not only did you have to worry about aiming at the target, you also had to take into consideration your breathing, heart rate, wind speed, bullet drop, distance, ect. This added so much more realism to the game. Now don’t worry, all of this was adjustable and highly degree of customization on the options screen so the game wouldn't be impossible for most players. I was generally impressed with this game other than the graphics. The graphics were rather ugly. I felt it really deserved a sequel and I found out about a year ago that they were finally making a sequel. But it turns out that it wasn't really a sequel exactly, it was more of a remake and sadly this ‘remake sequel thing’ falls short in many places that the first game had going for it.
STORY: Oh my god, they ruined what I thought was an ingenious set up and story from the original game. Instead of focusing on stopping the Russians from getting the Nazi nuclear weapons, you are focused on stopping the Russians from getting V2 rocket technology (hence the title of the game: Sniper Elite V2). You also have to stop the Russians from using one of the V2 rockets from unleashing a deadly nerve agent the Germans had secretly created. HMMM! That kinda sounds familiar! It’s exactly like Nova-6 plot point from Call of Duty: Black OPS! You might call that a spoiler but the plot point comes up so late in the game and then gets resolved within the next couple missions, that it doesn't really matter.
Remember all that set up for the first game I gave a little while ago? That’s all gone. The character you play as doesn't even have a name. He might as well just be Captain America considering how easily he kills everyone in his path but I’ll get to that later. He is dressed in American uniform and using American weapons from the get go which totally defeats the purpose of such a high risk covert mission. There is no resistance to work with or other OSS agents. This guy is all alone and that doesn't seem to bother him. The main objective is to kill 4 German scientists with ties to the V2 program. You kill two of them in first couple missions so you’re already half way done by the third mission. I found myself not nearly as invested in the plot of this game as in the first one and it’s all just an excuse to shoot Nazis and Russians. Now, I know for some people story isn't important and they just want to play the game and shoot shit which is fine but for me, a game needs some kind of coherent story to work ESPECIALLY if it has a historical setting like these games. It’s also a lot shorter than the first game. It took me about a week to be the first game. I beat this one in a little over a day so it’s probably about 5 to 6 hours. Painfully average.
GAME PLAY: The game play is a mixed bag. The actual sniping is great. Most of the ballistics from the first game are there but the first game had a screen full of all the stuff that affected your shot that could be edited and customized Here it’s only a small list but you still have to learn to aim just above the target to make the kill. The bullet kill cam has been greatly improved with the new X-ray kill which you see when you make the perfect shot. It shows an x-ray of the bullet going through the enemy’s body and you can see their bones and organs getting ripped and broken apart. It is super gory and super satisfying to get. That is hands down the best part of the game.
However, the stealth that was a major part of the first game isn't really here anymore. The camo index from the first game is gone. In the first game, you spent much of your time crawling through the rubble and streets avoiding detection. Here, there are some levels where you can successfully do this but most of the time sneaking gets you nowhere really. It’s easier to just find a position and start sniping till all the enemies in the area are dead, move to your next objective and do the same again. The game level designs force you to do this over and over just to focus on action instead of stealth. This game would be much more nail biting and intense if you say had to hide from an enemy tank patrol or low crawl past an enemy foot patrol. NO JUST SHOOT EVERYTHING (including tanks) YOU’RE CAPTAIN AMERICA!
Your sniper rifle upgrades happen way too fast. You have the Mosin-Nagant for like one mission before you get the Gewhr-43 and it’s the best rifle in the game so obviously that’s what you will use for the rest of the game and once you get a new sniper rifle, you can't switch back to the older ones or anything. In the first game, your receiving of new sniper rifles was more spread out across the game. Another wasted opportunity. Also, the enemy AI is just dumb. Hence why taking up a sniping position and killing all the enemies in the area is easy to do. The game does feature a challenge mode set in various set pieces from the game where you fight off waves of enemies kinda like the survival mode in Modern Warfare 3 but it’s not enough to save this game.
GRAPHICS: The graphics are one of the few things greatly improved from the first game. Not the best graphics I've ever seen but they do look good. The first game had lots of browns and rusty red in it… It was very ugly game in terms of colors but it was fitting for the setting. V2 is much much more colorful and detailed. It looks especially nice during the bullet kill cam segments and the x-ray kills. I can’t complain too much about graphics over all.
SOUND: The sound is also one of the few good things in this game. When running, your footsteps give off a loud echo which would play into the stealth mechanic.. if it mattered but it still sounds good. The gun shot sounds also sound really good. Another game play mechanic that goes hand in hand with the audio is sound masking. When there are loud sounds in the environment like artillery shells going off or a bell tower, this sound icon will appear in the top right of the screen. If you make a shot while that is on, the enemies will not be able to tell where the shot came from. I really like this. The game’s music usually only starts playing when you are spotted by enemies and engage in a battle and this works. The music is fitting so I have no complaints there.
OVERALL: As much as I was looking forward to this game, I gotta say, I’m pretty disappointed with it. I should point out that this game is not considered a sequel (even though I do), it’s a remake. Why did they feel the need to remake it? The first one deserved a real sequel with a modern setting, not a half assed rehash of the first game, taking out many of the good points from the first. If they wanted to make a real remake, they would have left everything the same and improved the graphics and update the game engine. This is a video game, not a damn movie! Have they never played any video game remakes? Mario All Stars? Kirby Super Star for the DS? Earthworm Jim DL? Metal Gear Solid The Twin Snakes? Well maybe not that one.. I might do a review of that in the future but my point is remaking this game was pointless. The first game was what I consider an underrated classic and it deserves a real sequel. A modern setting where you use current sniper systems and tactics with a similar game engine and setting would be awesome. Bottom line, it’s worth a rental but I would highly recommend the first game over this one.