Game review: Sniper Elite V2 Remastered has some refurbished sights

Hunting Nazis in WWII Berlin has never looked so good, as Rebellion update their fan favourite sniper sim for the current gen.

When thinking of long-running video game franchises Sniper Elite is probably not the first one that comes to mind. But the series is 15 years old next year and publisher/developer Rebellion is keen to celebrate that fact with a series of remasters, spin-offs, and a mooted fifth entry. The first of these is this remaster of Sniper Elite V2 from 2012, originally released last gen and the point at which the franchise really started to earn a name for itself.

Given its pleasing lack of ambiguity it’s pretty obvious what Sniper Elite V2 is all about just from the name. Set in the last days of the Second World War, you play as an American sniper trying to stop Russia from capturing defecting German rocket scientists. Storytelling isn’t one of the game’s major preoccupations though; with no time for any fancy between mission cut scenes, just a quick voiceover and a bit of vintage footage.

There was originally a lengthy time gap between the first and second games, with V2 acting almost as a reboot of the franchise. Certainly, both games have the same general premise and gameplay: a third person shooter where you have to think very carefully before you get out your sniper rifle or silenced pistol, let alone your machinegun.

As you’d expect, sniping is a very involved process in Sniper Elite, as you’re forced to account for both wind and gravity, as well as your breath – while learning to use background noises (thunder and lightning in one memorable set piece) to mask your assassinations. Hit your target and you get to watch the bullet pass through Nazi body parts in a slow-motion x-ray sequence that almost makes Mortal Kombat seem tame.

At other times you’re aiming at petrol cans on the sides of tanks or the tyres of passing cars, all creating an impressive amount of variety for what could easily have been a tiresome and nitpicky game mechanic.

The other main gameplay element is stealth, as you not only try to avoid being seen but set-up booby-traps and tripwires to discourage pursuers. This is something the subsequent games greatly expanded upon and in V2 it can all come across as a little shallow and restrictive, especially as the stage designs are a lot more linear than they first appear. There’s also a tendency to flood an area with respawning enemies if you trip an alarm, which is very frustrating if you feel you only made a minor mistake.

The game provides you with route markers for the most obvious path through a level and while the game certainly doesn’t encourage going in all guns blazing, most missions require only a minimal amount of forward planning. Turning up the difficulty does focus your mind on more indirect plans, but it doesn’t change the level design or the realism of the soldier responses.

Nazi soldiers will hear any shot and they’ll also notice dead bodies on the ground, but the original version of V2 was almost ruined by poor quality artificial intelligence. Unfortunately, the remaster shows only moderate improvement, which is a shame as it would have been a much more beneficial thing to focus on than the graphics. It’s not quite as bad as we remember from the original – which probably means it was improved in the interim via patches – but enemies can still be frustratingly inconsistent as they fluctuate between having the eyes of a hawk and extreme myopia.

Most of the work for the remaster has gone into improving the visuals, with not just an increase in resolution but also more complex level and object geometry, improved textures, and new lighting and particle effects. On a technical level it’s a good remaster, even if the last gen origins are still fairly obvious.

The remaster also adds a photo mode and new playable characters from sister series Zombie Army; while there’s now a variety of multiplayer modes, including Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and a variant of Capture the Flag. That’s in addition to a series of co-op modes including a riff on Gears Of War’s Horde survival mode and another where one player protects another from afar. The Bombing Run mode is the best though, where you have to collect parts to repair your vehicle.

The price tag isn’t the most generous imaginable but the amount of content is, with all the previous DLC included and a sense that Rebellion is doing all this because they’re genuinely proud of the game and not because they think the remaster is going to be any kind of massive seller. No matter how much it’s been polished up Sniper Elite V2 is still nowhere as good a game as Sniper Elite 4, but this remaster does close the gap a little and makes the anticipation for a brand-new entry all the greater.

Sniper Elite V2 Remastered

In Short: There are still problems with artificial intelligence and level design, but despite its age this is still one of the best sniper games around.

Pros: The sniping is handled very well and there’s an impressive variety to the missions despite repetitive objectives. Lots of content, both old and new, and a good quality remaster.

Cons: Artificial intelligence and magically spawning enemies are still a serious problem. Level design is too linear.

Score: 6/10

Formats: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC
Price: £29.99
Publisher: Rebellion
Developer: Rebellion
Release Date: 14th May 2019
Age Rating: 16

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