Developer Rebellion’s successful tactical shooter series may not be that old, but it’s already updating itself for a new generation of gamers. The sequel to the original Sniper Elite was first released in 2012 during the PS3/Xbox 360 generation. Now players can revisit the title with Sniper Elite V2 Remastered, available now for current generation consoles.
Sniper Elite V2 Remastered Details
Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4
Developer: Rebellion Developments
Publisher: Rebellion Developments
Genre: Tactical shooter, stealth
Modes: Single player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: M (Mature)
The final days of WWII
Sniper Elite V2 Remastered takes place in Berlin during the waning months of the second World War. You’ll play as Lieutenant Karl Fairburne, and American sniper tasked with interrupting the development of the V-2 ballistic missile. While the Nazis are already on the brink of defeat, the V-2 missile program is at risk of falling into the possession of the Soviets.
Fairburne must hold off both sides in a bid to keep the technology out of enemy hands. Along the way you’ll also attempt to aid and recruit enemy scientists who wish to defect to the U.S.A.
A stealthy approach
There are many military shooters that allow for (if not straight-up reward) a run-and-gun approach to combat. With spare ammo lying around every corner and an uncanny ability to heal, players often take advantage in the faster pace of these games. However, Sniper Elite V2 Remastered strongly encourages a more tactical approach.
You are a sniper after all. In Sniper Elite V2 Remastered the best approach is to hang back and take on enemies and challenges methodically. Sniping enemies at long distance before they are aware of your presence is vastly preferable to charging in guns ablaze.
That said, while I appreciate the way Sniper Elite V2 Remastered leans into realism in its approach, it still doesn’t get it 100% perfect. While playing on normal difficulty, I did find it a bit jarring when making a mistake and stumbling into an open crowd of enemies—only to find that I could still take nearly a dozen bullets from all directions and still scamper to safety.
For a game that rewards stealth play and tackles the ballistics of sniping so thoroughly, the level of forgiveness here does ruin the immersion that the game does so well to create otherwise. It’s almost as though Sniper Elite V2 Remastered is afraid to surrender fully to its own agenda. It still clings to just enough of the traditional conventions of video game shooters for fear of alienating broader audiences.
Each level is a challenge in strategy
Levels are linear for the most part, but still offer multiple options for success. In this sense, Sniper Elite V2 Remastered somewhat takes on the form of a puzzle game. The objective is to find the best “line” to victory, by making good decisions and finding the optimal path to victory with the tools at hand.
Sniper Elite V2 Remastered leans further into this concept by scoring players on their performance. Having a quick time will increase your grade, but so will feats of exceptional skill and tactics. Headshots naturally offer increasing bonuses, as do the results of placing traps in optimal locations.
As such, Sniper Elite V2 Remastered incorporates a higher level of replayability to its roughly 7-8 hour campaign. Replaying levels as a challenge to increase your score and find better and more efficient routes to victory can be addictive for those who enjoy chasing personal bests.
The infamous Kill Cam
Since Sniper Elite V2 Remastered naturally focuses on long distance combat, your enemies typically perish at long range. That won’t stop players from getting a close-up of their gruesome demise though. Frequently a killing shot will cause the game to enter the “Kill Cam”—wherein the camera leaves the player and follows the speeding bullet all the way through its trajectory until it reaches its target.
The graphic nature of the kill cam doesn’t just stop at a close-up however. As the bullet penetrates its victim their body enters an x-ray representation of their skeleton. Players will see with excruciating detail every bone that snaps as the bullet passes through their enemy.
The mechanic is extremely similar to that found in recent Mortal Kombat games, designed solely to up the “gore” factor inherent to your violent actions. I have to admit though, at the risk of sounding hypocritical, for me I’m just not sure I like it so much in Sniper Elite V2 Remastered. It’s one thing to experience it in a fantasy fighting game, but another entirely to associate with the very real horrors of war.
It’s easy to classify your enemies as the “bad guys”, but in a historical scenario these are still proxies for real human beings. I’m not sure I want to explore the bone-shattering realism of historical fiction in my gaming time. Luckily the Kill Cam can toggle on and off in the menu if you feel the same way.
Sniper Elite V2 Remastered features a number of graphical improvements over the original release. These include modernised renderer and post processing effects, enhanced level geometry, textures and particles, a revamped lighting system, and 4K HDR support.
While the improvements to lighting and other effects certainly do look great, Sniper Elite V2 Remastered still has a few shortcomings that even a remaster can’t fix. For example I can’t seem to look past the odd way in which the main character’s upper torso moves in tandem with his legs. It’s certainly far from a game-breaker, but the fact that this locomotion is slightly off means that I often can’t help but fixate on it a bit when playing.
Sniper Elite V2 Remastered is a stealthy tactical shooter with interesting replay potential
What I enjoy most about Sniper Elite V2 Remastered is treating each level like a puzzle. By finding the best solution and improving on my personal best the game becomes like a challenge with persistent room for improvement. The stealthy, realistic approach favours those who enjoy tactical thinking over run-and-gun action.
Unfortunately the Kill Cam feature really isn’t for me. Personally I think it’s a bit much in context with the gravity of the historical events the game takes root in, fictional though the specific story beats may be. Overall the game really benefits from the visual boost it received during the remastering process, although not everything about the game holds up over time.
+ Challenging levels with replayability
+ Updated graphics
– Kill Cam can be a bit squeamish in context to historical setting
– Some odd movement animations
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF SNIPER ELITE V2 REMASTERED
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 3.5/5