You guys want to kill some Nazis? Of course you do.
Sniper Elite V2 is the new 3rd-person shooter from developer Rebellion Games and publisher 505 Games. I didn't play the original Sniper Elite, so I couldn't really speak to the series' overall quality and/or values. I can, however, say that this game is pretty alright. Players inhabit into the shoes of—you guessed it—an elite sniper during the closing days of World War 2. The Germans are on the run and everything seems peachy for the allies. That is, until the US government discovers Hitler's plans to launch V2 rockets at just about everything everywhere. Armed with a few explosive tricks and your trusty scoped rifle, you must traipse across Europe in an effort to kill the V2's engineers and destroy any chance the Nazis have of killing everybody everywhere. There's a twist (of course there is) as you find out there may be more to your simple "blast fools!" mission than meets the eye. Will it be rough going? Yes! Will you kill everyone in your way? You bet! Can you save the world? Probably!
The high point of Sniper Elite V2 is the game's slo-mo x-ray kill cam. That's a mouthful, but to simplify it, well-placed shots trigger slow motion cinematics of skull-shattering, teeth-rendering, heart-bursting awesomeness. We all hate Nazis, right? So what better way to stick it to those jerks that a few bullets to the face (I particularly enjoyed shooting those bastards in the eyeball). This is the type of insane gore that protest groups might cite as a reason to ban video games, but so long as you aren't showing it to children it's rather enjoyable. Missions run the gamut from "stealthily infiltrate this bomb factory and only snipe fools when a loud enough noise will hide the sound of your gun" to "set up the explosives, get to the vantage point, shoot the explosive, run like hell!" There's enough variety to be found that the game never really gets stale. Sure, you wind up doing the same thing an awful lot, but the developers have done a wonderful job with pacing so you're never stuck in the same mission type for long. The developers have also thrown in collectible items in the form of stolen gold you must seek out and bottles of wine you must snipe. Every game needs its collectibles these days, so why not a sniper sim? Anyway, this game lets you kill all sorts of Nazis and Communists, and if that's not American we don't know what is. Joking aside, if you ever get bored from shooting Nazis, you'll know something is wrong. Hardcore gamers will enjoy the harder modes which takes things like gravity, wind resistance and the coriolis effect into account. In other words, your crosshairs might be on that commander's melon, but unless you work out the math involved with the aspects listed above, he's gonna go home to his children...you can't let that happen!
The graphics found in Sniper Elite are just ok, especially when stacked up against similar 3rd-person titles like the Socom series. Both the hero and his opponents are minimally detailed if you look close enough (on a 50-inch plasma there was noticeable weirdness) which caused this gamer to believe Rebellion just didn't have a whole ton of money to work with. Whether you're sniping Nazis or Russians, enemies have the vision of genetically modified cats, which is to say you'd damn well better be patient and hide well, because those fucking Nazis can pretty much see through walls, cars, crates, et al. The realistic manner in which our hero takes damage may be a delight to certain types of hardcore gamers, but for those of us that play for an escape from reality, it sure is frustrating to restart checkpoint after checkpoint because that one dude was hiding behind a mailbox when we were surveying the area with our sniper scope. Multiplayer does exist, but after several fruitless attempts to join the few modes available I simply gave up. Finding collectible wine bottles and gold bars is hard as hell.
The Bottom Line
Sniper Elite probably won't take home any awards, but its ability to breathe semi-fresh air into the WW2 shooter genre is fairly impressive. I went in with the express desire to shoot Nazis in the head, and that's exactly what I did. There are a few tricks and surprises to be found that make the overall experience worthwhile, but in the end I found myself aching to play superior games like Medal of Honor: Airborne or Call of Duty: World at War. Given the game's $50 pricetag (that's around ten bucks cheaper than most new releases for all y'all not in the know), it's at least worth a trip into the crumbling streets of Europe to put an end to that stupid iron curtain and their bullshit rockets.
Platforms: 360, PS3, PC
Developer: Rebellion Games
Publisher: 505 Games