After the reasonable success of Sniper Elite, it was pretty much guaranteed a sequel/prequel/version number 2 would be released, and here it is, well at least in demo form. But with the first one receiving the praise it did, that would give the game a lot to stand up too.
Does it hold its own? Unfortunately that’s not something I can really comment on having never played or even heard of V1… But that shouldn’t be too much of a problem right? A good V2 game must surely be able to stand up by itself surely? Give the video below a look if you want to find out, it’s the entire demo played through, yes the video is 15 minutes long, the ENTIRE demo.
If, like me, you’ve never heard of this series before, Snipe Elite V2 is, yup you’ve guessed it, a sniper game. You play the role of Karl Fairburne (the same character from the first game) in 1945 Berlin, assassinating people with you’re sniper rifle whenever you get a bit bored. I had a small problem with this whole setting, in which that I didn’t have a clue who I was, why I was assassinating my target, and why I had just created a street full of corpses. I understand the fact the game is a demo, but surely the best way to reel me in and get me to part my cash is to give me a glimpse of the story and make me want nothing else than to play the entire game.
I can imagine plenty of people are going to disagree with that opinion, but I just felt the only reason I would put a bullet in my targets head was to watch him crumple like a jenga tower rather than because he had committed evil on society. Then again I guess when a game is set in Nazi Germany, any moving object is likely to have carried out atrocious crime and so should be cut down before it so much as looks at you. And cut down hordes of German soldiers I did, enjoying every shot vastly. There’s something quite satisfying about destroying a set of Nazi skulls to the soundtrack of helmet pings before they are able to touch a hair on your precious head.
When you do land that shot on the unsuspecting victim from a large distance, you’re greeted by an impressive slow-mo of the bullet leaving your rifle and implanting into the enemy, with the extra bonus of a Final Destination style skeleton cut-away, showing you fragments of useless bone you just disintegrated showering the closest baddie. When you first pull one of these off, you get the sense of “woah… awesome”, but when you shoot your 10th enemy in exactly the same place in exactly the same position, it drops to more “yeh that’s pretty nice, is it necessary though?”. The constant cutting away from you to show your bullet means that if you want to fire a lot of shots quickly, it’s tough.
The feature is great as an idea and a quick thrill, but then if you’re shooting someone, you can pretty much guess what arrangement their face will be in afterwards. Add to that the fact that on the easiest difficulty the AI helpfully try and get in the way of your bullets, and you end up with a lot of hopping from you to bullet to you to bullet, almost as though the camera has some schizophrenia issues. And the AI do like you’re bullets, than can be said.
The game has a few realistic nuggets in there, such as if you shoot someone in the leg the become incapacitated, rather than dying from extensive blood loss from the ankle as in COD. When this happens, another baddie will go over, pick up his dying teammate and walk him to a dying hole. Whilst this is a nice realistic feature, they tend to do this as slowly as they possibly can, meaning you can go away, get some toast, come back, then shoot them both in the back. But then I guess there has always been a compromise between realistic and fun, Sniper Elite V2 however seems to want both of them, and actually doesn’t do too bad a job.
These aren’t the only realistic features that the game will chuck at you, as it proudly displays its “realistic” ballistics, the first thing in the demo you actually have to choose is how real you want your game to be. This comes in 3 tiers, COD tier where the bullets go straight where you click, middle tier where the bullets go in a straight line but are affected by gravity, and elite tier where wind, gravity, moon position and anything you can think of affects where your bullet goes. I played in the middle tier, as I wanted to be able to actually hit something, and I can honestly say the realism was there.
If you fired at a dawdling enemy your bullet would hit below where you fired, more so at a longer distance. This means that you actually have to adjust your aim to hit what you want, or in my case, keep firing until one of the bullets hits its mark. This is not the easiest thing to have to do when a platoon of Germans know your exact location and constantly fire at you, but that’s real, that’s probably how it should be, and it certainly had me feeling like I was behind the sight of the gun. The game rewards you when you do pull off a spectacular shot, using a points system affected by hit area, distance and alertness of enemy to tell you how well you did. Unfortunately a perfectly silent pistol kill that no-one noticed got less points than a loud sniper to the face from close distance when everyone was looking, meaning if you want high point scores, you are forced into using the sniper and nothing else.
As with a lot of recent shooters, this game also has cover based controls, you press a button to hide, then when you aim down sight you pop out to find most of the army looking at you desperately trying to work out how to hit you with their seemingly useless guns. The cover system works when you are in buildings perfectly, but as soon as you try and use burnt out cars or other strewn objects in the street, Karl decides that actually he doesn’t want to shoot enemies, and refused to peek out from his hiding spot until I managed to completely peel him away from the object.
Other than that, the controls are seamless (well lets ignore the games random decisions on whether you can go prone or not). Its the kind of thing you would really expect however, especially when considering that shooters have been perfected by the world and his wife. You can tell however this game has watched others with interest, based on the inclusion of what effectively is time slowing. You press the E button, and the world ends up at half speed whilst you maintain your lightning reactions. What I can never understand though, is why any developer still thinks that holding a button to aim down sight works. What’s so wrong with the idea of simply pressing a button then being able to let go and avoid developing RSI in half your hand…
Although the only part of the visuals I’ve mentioned so far is the fancy bullet to the face shots, the game does actually contain other graphics. Whilst my graphics settings weren’t on max (pretty normal for my ancient PC), I would still say some of the visuals were a bit below par. Everything is war coloured, which sounds like an obvious statement, but with that it means that everything is devoid of any colour whatsoever. Its almost like the Germans went round and shot the colour out of everything that was deemed too bright.
You get piles of rubble that look like they’ve been slightly regurgitated, and in this day and age of gaming engines, I was a bit disappointed with the lack of destruction of normal objects. Even the smallest brick sits there like a stubborn mule, refusing to move even in the face of a grenade blast. Overall the graphics aren’t going to make you want to hide your eyes for the entire time, but there’s nothing to make you stop and admire the decor around you, although maybe that’s the idea, all part of the “enemies are here” with a big arrow sort of effect.
This may well have only been a demo, but the idea of a demo is to convince the player to play the main game, so I think it’s perfectly fair to judge what I saw or at least state whether I’m convinced enough to spend some of my small collection of money. If we ignore the graphics and decide solely by the gameplay, immersion and storyline, I’m more inclined to say something nice so lets do that. Rebellion decided to include plenty of realistic elements and those all work very nicely, giving the game plenty of positives. The lack of story presents a problem, a fixable problem after the demo, but a problem none the less, meaning the game felt more like a power rush, where I simply gunned down Germans for no other reason than it was fun and I could.
The immersion, well when you are holding the rifle, you really feel like a sniper and have to concentrate on all aspects to keep your shots steady. This however all goes out the window when you account for the fact you are given a sub-machine gun. The game tries to restrict its use by giving pretty much no ammo for it, but the sheer fact you can mow people down with a tommy destroys the sniper feel a bit, making me sometimes feel like maybe the silent way was actually the least effective. Which when you consider the games name, is all wrong.
So will I purchase this game when it’s released on the 4th May? I can honestly say probably not. The realism is fantastic, as I have pointed out many times, but I get the feeling I would get the same effect of playing the entire game if I simply played the demo over and over, perhaps using a different cover point each time. Rebellion have provided a refreshing break from the usual run and gun, multiplayer chaos sort of game that we usually see when guns are involved, but for me that’s all it was.
The game provided a nice break, but in doing this made me more willing to go back to the normal shooter without getting as bored so quickly. But don’t let me distract you from buying this, especially if you are a hardcore sniping fan or enjoy assassinating random people, I can well imagine this is for you.
Final demo score: 6.5/10