Let me start by being blatantly honest: Sniper Elite V2 Remastered Is a great game hampered by frustrating controls and design choices. Many aspects of the game are decidedly old-school, which has a lot to do with the fact that the game is a remaster of a 2012 release, but while the graphics and gameplay have been tweaked, many of the pitfalls of the older console generation have remained. Despite this, when the game kicks into high gear and plays how it was intended the thrill is unlike anything in most modern video games.
In Sniper Elite V2 Remastered the player take the reins of Karl Fairburne, a highly skilled sharpshooter tasked with taking out various scientists working on the V-2 rocket program in 1945 Berlin during the tail end of World War 2. Fairburne is up against both Nazis and Soviets, many times being the only American located in hostile territory.
The best – and worst – part about Sniper Elite V2 Remastered is its gameplay. Fairburne is a sniper and his rifle is his primary weapon, despite having both a machine gun and a silenced pistol on hand at all times. The sniper rifle feels great, and the bullet physics add a nuanced layer of depth to what could have easily been just another war shooter. The machine gun, on the other hand, is unwieldy and inaccurate – making it only useful during close encounters when you just don’t have time to set up a good shot. This isn’t necessarily a gripe, as I’m sure machine guns are not the best weapons for long range fighting or even close encounters, they were meant to fire off a massive amount of bullet in quick succession, and as such they succeed. The problem is you never have more than 30 to 60 bullets at a time, with the maximum capacity being so low that many times I was lucky to take out one or two enemies before switching back to my sniper rifle. The pistol is better, but only when used to sneak up on enemies. A well-aimed shot can take out a guard without announcing your arrival to the room – something that both the sniper rifle and the machine gun do immediately. But as a regular weapon, the pistol is all but pointless. Multiple shots do little harm and will usually end up with the player dead long before he can clear out a room.
I understand these design choices, considering this is a sniper-based game, and I wouldn’t have a problem with them if so much of the game didn’t involve being bum-rushed by multiple enemies in close quarters. You could argue that maybe I’m not too good at the game and just alerted too many enemies, and that may be true, but as there is no way to muffle the sound of your rifle the second you take out your first enemy the whole area goes on lock down. If you’re lucky you’ll end up in an area where you can hunker down and protect yourself, popping out to take out enemies one at a time and setting traps to guard door ways. But many times, you are out in the open, forced against walls which your character inexplicably can’t aim over despite being the perfect height to peek over, and having to come out of cover to shoot.
Again, all of this could avoid being frustrating if your character could take more than 3 or 4 shots before dying. It’s easy to be rushed and die almost immediately, or to get picked off by multiple enemies while trying to whittle the forces down. Again, I’m not complaining about the lack of health (It’s understandable, you’re a sniper – not superman) or the lack of weapons (you’re a trained sniper, the rest is secondary) – it’s more than the game so often goes against it’s core fundamentals to force you to fight in ways other than sniping.
This is where some of the games older mechanics start to hurt gameplay. In the few instances I was able to find a great sniping spot, enemies would stay hidden out of sight, or – more frustrating – they would run around like madmen, spinning in circles and running back and forth without ever stopping. A few times I was shot by enemies through walls but could get no clear aim on them due to a glitch that kept them from ever appearing high enough in the window for a shot. A few ill-timed checkpoints started me out in the middle of a gun fight, which served only to kill me before I had a chance to walk and forced me to restart the level.
Now if this all sounds super negative, I don’t really intend it to. I just want to thoroughly explain the best, and worst, aspects of the gameplay. When the game works – man, its really something special. Sniper battles are highlights, giving the player a chance to use their sniping skills and weapon ballistics to line up the perfect shot and the glorious slow-mo kill cam is a thing of beauty. A new photo mode allows you to capture every shot perfectly, as you can move frame by frame to get exactly the picture you want. Likewise, when on a level playing field and surrounded by multiple enemies, the game still feels great as you slowly whittle down their forces, tanks, vehicles, and turrets. There is no better feeling than sniping a grenade on an enemy’s belt and watching him take out multiple enemies in the ensuing explosion.
In a world full of call of Duty clones and fast paced shooters, it’s refreshing to play a game so set on making sure the player feels human. Twitchy fingers and running only serve to get you killed and the penalty for death sometimes means replaying entire sections. I felt far more tense and excited playing Sniper Elite than I ever have Call of Duty, although you could argue the two are entirely different genres of game and really shouldn’t be compared. Sneaking through dark corridors, destroyed cities, and enemy bases armed with only a sniper rifle, some land mines, and my wits – I felt challenged and excited. Clearing out an area after a hard-won battle made dealing with the more frustrating aspects of the gameplay worth it.
On the systems capable of handling it, Sniper Elite V2 Remastered boasts 4k resolution and HDR. While I’ve never played the original, so I can’t accurately compare the remaster to it, the game does feature some pretty graphics and can stand on its own against many modern games. It’s not Red Dead Redemption 2, the graphics have issues and the levels are linear and void of the smaller details that can give areas life, but the light effects, the cities surrounded in flames, the character models, the bullet cam effects, etc. are all impressive and make up for the missing details. If this had been a full-fledged remake then yes, I would have expected the levels to feel more lived in – but as it is a remaster of a seven year old game, I’m more than willing to forgive the sometimes empty areas and instead focus on what the game does right.
Sniper Elite V2 Remastered is not a long game, at least not on the casual or regular difficulty levels. My playthrough took me 7 hours and 41 minutes, and that included taking some time to look around in corners for hidden gold bars. Once you know where enemies are and how they are going to act in a given situation, you can run through levels at a relatively quick pace. Despite the short length, the game features a variety of locales to exploire and feels like the right length for the story it is telling. Any longer and the story would have begun to drag, which would hamper any emotional ties you may have to the storyline.
That said, if you play on the hardest setting you may be in for nearly double the length, as you have to take into effect gravity, bullet physics, and so much more without the help of any gameplay signals. It is for the elite snipers, and my guess is many who are drawn to this series will be playing the game on this difficulty anyway.
This remaster features all previous DLC, the addition of a photo mode, a revamped multiplayer mode allowing up to 16 players (8 on Nintendo Switch) to duke it out, and many new playable multiplayer characters taken from developer Rebellion’s other series, Zombie Army Trilogy. The DLC includes the “Assassinate the Fuhrer” mission in which, you guessed it, you get to take down Hitler. There are other challenge modes available as well.
Sniper Elite V2 Remastered is a mixed bag. When the gameplay clicks – like when you’re facing off against the Russian elite sniper team in an open arena full of bombed buildings – the game is magnificent. Aside from the Sniper Elite series itself, there are very few games which come close to replicating the tense, sniper-based gameplay on display here and for that alone Sniper Elite V2 Remastered deserves to be played.
Sure, there are a few issues and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get extremely frustrated at times – but nothing kept me from wanting to continue, nothing prevented my excitement to see the next set piece. What the game does well more than makes up for the glitches and dated gameplay elements. Treat the game as if it is 7 years old – a polished 7-year-old game, but 7 none the less – and you’re far less likely to be disappointed.
I enjoyed my time with Sniper Elite V2 Remastered and would recommend it to anybody that is a fan of the World War 2 setting or stealth based gameplay. There are action pieces throughout, but if you approach Sniper Elite with a Call of Duty based mindset, you’ll only end up angry. Taken as it is Sniper Elite V2 Remastered is a worthy remaster and a great addition to any game library.
Sniper Elite V2 Remastered is available now digitally on PS4, Xbox One, PC (Steam and GOG), and Nintendo Switch. A physical release for PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch will be available on May 19th, 2019. Sniper Elite V2 Remastered is published by Rebellion and has an MSRP of $34.99.
Disclosure: Fan Fest News was provided a review code of Sniper Elite V2 Remastered on the Xbox One.