- Publisher: 505 Games
- Developer: Rebellion
- ESRB Rating: M (Mature)
- Genre: WWII Shooter
- Pros: Well-designed missions, unique shooting animations, detailed settings, weapon variety
- Cons: Visual glitches, repetitive combat, inconsistent difficulty, awful checkpoint construction
"Sniper Elite V2" puts you in the specialized shoes of Karl Fairburne, an American super-agent undercover in the OSS on a series of crucial missions during World War II. The game is divided into assignments like trying to plant explosives on a bridge in time to stop a Russian convoy or clearing an area of enemy combatants in order to save a crucial informant. The missions are different but similar as they force you to use tactical skills as much as they do firepower. You simply cannot expect to enter areas of combat with your guns blazing and survive. You'll need to use your binoculars, well-placed trip mines, and, of course, your scope to succeed and survive.
At first, the tactical approach to "Sniper Elite V2" seems overplayed. What most players really will take to is the power of crouching behind cover, finding your target in your scope, and perfectly accounting for all conditions like timing your shot with a loud noise to disguise your location or aiming just above to account for gravity (at higher difficulties, one even has to take into account wind). When a shot is perfectly lined up and executed, "Sniper Elite V2" goes into cinematic mode as the bullet is tracked as it cuts the air and slices through flesh and bone with x-ray detail. There's something viscerally exciting to war game fans about seeing your shot enter a Nazi's eye and exit his skull in gruesome slow motion. As you line up and execute these shots, "Sniper Elite V2" achieves its highest success.
However, while your scope and a well-placed crouch will win early, the game quickly forces you to get strategic. At one particularly difficult point, I actually placed trip mines and land mines at two doors near me and then threw a grenade out the window, realizing that if I could get the enemy to come to me, I'd have more luck. While that particular example may not seem like one that employs your sniper skills, the variety of gameplay is refreshing in that if the title was nothing but scopes and slow-motion kills then it would get repetitive quickly.
On that note, there are a few missions that suffer from the common shooter problem of repetition. As I was prone overlooking a plaza and truck after truck of Russians literally took turns coming into my sights, I wondered why they didn't try a different approach. The enemy A.I. often seems pretty silly in that the bad guys are clearly designed to pick up on certain things in the environment but ignore other, obvious ones. There were several times when I wiped out most of a patrol only to be startled by one wanderer who apparently didn't notice that all of his friends were gone. It's that kind of inconsistent enemy A.I. that can kill a game like "Sniper Elite V2" when it becomes common. It's not too prevalent here. Just enough to be annoying.
Even more annoying is the insane lack of a save system, which requires the player to restart any mission that they haven't completed should they need to interrupt their play. There are checkpoints if you die, but if you turn off the game then it's time to start over. As the missions get more difficult, they can take significant amounts of time and you'll be forced to complete them or lose all of your progress. That's just silly. If there's a checkpoint, you should be able to save there and pick it up again mid-mission. It doesn't help that the game has huge peaks and valleys in terms of difficulty. One section will take you seconds to cruise through and the next will require dozens of deaths to master.
The game also includes a pretty deep multiplayer portion although I had some difficulty finding people online willing to jump in. The multiplayer is co-op heavy but I'll always consider the sniper experience a solitary one. It's mostly just there due to the fact that a developer simply can't make a war game in 2012 without a multiplayer portion.