Sniper Elite V2 Preview (PC)

I remember the first Sniper Elite – strange to think that it was only 2005, and stranger to think that for reason I feel it wasn’t that long ago, when in fact it was 7 years ago. We used to call it “Sniper E-light-ay”, for reasons that now escape me, but for which we found awfully amusing at the time… Sniper Elite was one of those games where you didn’t really play it for the story, or play it in a way you were supposed to – it was all about getting the best shot possible: longest, most awkward, most epic moving shot, double-dipping… it was a game we played to show off, and little else.

The kill cam makes a triumphant return, this time with added goriness. You only get this for the extra special shots though...

Sniper Elite v2, it seems, has other ideas. One of the first things we noticed was how it was a bit more linear than the last game. Not quite to the same corridor extent as many modern shooters, but you’re still (quite obviously too) being guided down a clear path. Rebellion would argue though that what they’ve lost in terms of ‘open-ness’, they’ve gained in increased ‘verticality’, and the ability to populate what room they have with more things. This is a fair point, truth be told, as now that we think about it, there really wasn’t a lot ‘in’ the original game’s levels. The odd soldier here and there, a tank would pop up at once point… but it was pretty open and sparse, and there weren’t a lot of opportunities to go high up and get the true ‘sniper’ vantage point.

This is where V2’s new direction comes in though – because of the condensed space, the enemies and challenges you face are more immediate, and often require quick thinking. The levels seem relatively short as well, with duration really only being determined by how long you take to do certain things, it’s usually to your advantage to clear out an area before moving on, which can take time and many, many re-runs if you’re a perfectionist. One problem we’ve noticed so far is that Sniper Elite gives off the illusion that it’s a bit of stealth game, when in fact it’s not. You can stealth around, but avoiding people is difficult because the new linearity means they are always along the path you need to go, so you end up with no choice but to kill them.
Peek-a-boo, I see you
One thing which we don’t think has improved much is traps and the other equipment you can pick up in the game. Despite this being the ‘thinking man’s shooter’ (something we’ve heard before, but never mind), the pace of the game still seems that it’s supposed to be relatively quick. There’s not really time, or at the very least time enough to think, about laying traps or covering exits… unless of course you’ve died a couple of times trying to get through a section and so are setting traps with hindsight, but that shouldn’t really count. The most obvious thing to do would be to set traps along your exit route, but we forgot to do it a lot and were rarely worse off for it. The first game was like that as well, but considering we’ve only seen a small snap shot we’ll have to wait and see if it becomes more natural to do as the game goes on.

A note must also be spared for the difficulty as well – the original game utilised a fairly upfront scaling system, with the easiest setting only really having you to account for gravity, with factors like wind, heart-rate etc… being factored in as you made it harder. In V2, a similar system is in place but it’s more behind the scenes. The easiest difficulty has you only worrying about gravity again, and you can also have an aim assist to help get used to judging distances, and you can tag enemies as well for easy tracking. As you get harder, tracking and aim assist is removed, and we believe more factors are scaled in as well but it’s not obvious about it, so we’re not entirely sure.

As far as multiplayer goes, there’s only co-operative modes at the moment (split-screen and online). There’s Kill Tally, which is basically a ‘horde’ mode which is also available in single player under ‘Challenges’, and it’s pretty much a standard horde mode with the context of World War 2 and Sniping. There’s Bombing Run, where you have to retrieve and secure an objective before the time runs out and the area you’re in is bombed to pieces, and then there’s Overwatch, where one person is an operative running around doing stuff, whilst the other is the sniper providing fire support. Sadly, we didn’t get a chance to try them out, but they sound interesting enough. Shame there isn’t a competitive mode though – nothing would be sweeter than having an Enemy at the Gates show-down.
Yeah, it's very much you vs. everyone in this game

So, not the most glowing of previews perhaps, but this is still a good game from what we’ve seen so far – it’s just easy to misunderstand what it ‘is’, especially if you remember what the first game was like. The missions are tight, and provide you with a lot of challenges along the way to keep you engaged, and there’s still that sense of trying to get the best shot you can, without detracting from the overall goal. Graphical fidelity is high, and this game really does stand-out from the shooters that are around today, so we think it will succeed in finding that new audience. Sniper Elite v2 is due out on PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 on 4th May, 2012.

Most Anticipated Feature: As always, it’s going to be about getting that sweet, sweet shot…

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