I’ve always been rather fond of the Sniper Elite series, and up until Strange Brigade came out, I held it as Rebellion’s finest work. There’s something particularly striking about it, being that it houses a framework and some distinct characteristics that few other sniper-specific games can replicate. This gen alone, we’ve been treated to two new games in the series, and Rebellion are already hard at work creating a brand new installation. Though, until then, we’ve got the newly released Sniper Elite V2 Remastered to keep us all entertained.
Let’s get the fundamentals out of the way first. Sniper Elite V2 Remastered is a comprehensive package. Here, you’re getting the core game as well as its pre-existing DLC; all of which comes with gorgeously remastered visuals. Further to that, the game includes some additional extras, such as new playable characters that have been plucked from Rebellion’s Zombie Army series. Fans can also look forward to a fairly extensive photo mode, and the return of co-op and multiplayer support for those that enjoy online action.
For its cheap cost, you cant really go wrong. There’s enough content here to justify its price-tag twice over, and heaps of replay value to soak up past that. The game’s campaign is relatively straightforward in regards to its story, but then, these games tend to be alluring due to the explosive gameplay alone. Players take on the role of elite sniper Karl Fairburne. Parachuting into Berlin in the midst of Germany’s final stand during World War II, Karl has orders to prevent Nazi V2 rocket technology from falling into the hands of the Red Army.
What ensues are constant bouts of assassinating high-profile targets and destabilizing your enemies wherever and whenever you can, as you seek to fulfill your mission. The story is presented to you via mission statements and cutscenes. Whilst the pacing of the plot can be a little off, the gameplay remains gratifying from beginning to end. There’s a range of different difficulties that you can take on; from Cadet through to Sniper Elite. You can also customize the difficulty, tweaking enemy skill, ballistic realism, and tactical assistance.
I chose to play the game on Cadet, and still found it to be rather challenging to say that it’s the easiest variant. Switching it up to Sniper Elite only showcased how out of my depth I was. Enemies are relentless, and despite the fact that a fair few of them will act like village idiots, there’s no shortage of challenging play to be found here overall. Each level in the campaign plays out in the same way. You’ll be given an assignment before being spawned onto a vast map and sent on your way, typically with a full suit of weaponry and ammo.
You’re always informed as to where you’ll need to be heading, with objective markers and waypoints keeping you in the loop every step of the way. Despite knowing your route, the game’s tough, heavy-handed action rarely loosens up. Here, victories are earned, not given. It’s honestly refreshing being forced into thinking tactically and playing strategically, rather than that simply being an option, as is the case in many shooters of this kind. It helps, of course, that regardless as to its harsh framework, the game remains rather accessible.
Not only is there support for mouse and keyboard, but the controller is wonderfully mapped. Movement is tied to the thumbsticks, with all the standard action prompts tethered to the controller’s face buttons. Weapon switching is achieved through the D-Pad, with the ability to browse objectives, maps, and scoreboards, through tapping the view button. Finally, you’ll use your weaponry in pretty much the same way that any given shooter works; aiming with LT, firing with RT, and tossing frags through hitting RB.
The only notable difference is that in Sniper Elite, you’ll use LB to aim down your scope. Once aimed, you’ll then use RB to fill and empty your lungs, giving you a steady hand and slightly slowing down time for you to align your shots. Using these functions, you’ll slowly move through the fields of play as you take out opposing forces. Now, stealth is everything in Sniper Elite V2 Remastered. Despite the fact that you typically have a range of weapons to choose from, you’ll never stand a better chance at surviving than when you’re incognito.
Sure, the options to go in all guns blazing is present, but it rarely plays out in the way that you would expect. It’s far too easy, even on Cadet difficulty, to bite the proverbial dust when you’re careless. Instead, it’s better to play strategically and pick off your foes from a vantage point, or, gradually stealth kill them from the shadows when the occasion calls for it. The game makes a habit of forcing you to play in different ways, consistently putting you into some deadly situations and against all odds, ultimately making for a tense affair.
This can be anything from being isolated in a vantage point with dozens of enemies concentrating fire at you, to being shoehorned into tight, packed locations. Each level can last anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour on a decent run, with hidden collectibles and a scoring system in place to further bolster replay value. There’s some neat mechanics in place, such as the noise masking mechanic. Essentially, in sync with a loud event that’s present in a level, you can mask your shots to keep enemies oblivious to your presence.
Though, it’s the series’ trademark X-Ray Kill Cam that steals the show. Every so often (you can change the frequency in the settings) you’ll be shown a kill via the aforementioned cam. These moments slow down time and show the bullet leaving your sniper, and then following it into the body of your target in a cinematic, gratifying fashion. It’s quite a spectacle, watching the innards of your enemies getting shattered as you sit back and marvel at bones and organs being ripped and obliterated. I cant say that ever gets old, nor boring.
I found the game’s AI to be surprisingly robust, save the occasional enemy that seems content in idiotically standing in plain sight, begging for a kill. The majority of play sees your opposition tactically calling your position out to other enemies as they slowly advance on your position, concentrating fire whenever they see an opening to exploit. Sadly, there’s a few technical issues to be mindful of throughout; the occasional spot of delayed rendering and a slight drop in frame-rate when the action picks up, but it’s very, very infrequent.
Sniper Elite V2 Remastered performs well overall, and these few problems will no doubt be tidied up in a post-launch patch. That, ladies and gents, is the sum of how the game’s campaign plays out. You’ll drop onto a map with heaps of enemies to contend with, and will work towards your objective points before moving to the next level. You’ll pick up some new weapons along the way, such as new sniper rifles that offer varying qualities and zooms, though it never really matters what you’re using as they all do the trick in the end.
Once you’re done with the campaign, there’s plenty of other things to get up to, such as the Kill Tally and Challenge modes. The former is a wave-based mode that spawns you into tight and confined maps, tasking you with surviving wave upon wave of enemies. This will be especially fun for those that enjoy chasing leaderboard dominance, and if that’s you, you’ll be glad to know that the game is chock-full of systems that will accommodate you; from career stats through to leaderboards for just about every mode that you can take to here.
The Challenge mode is where you’ll find the previously alluded to DLC, including the iconic “Kill Hitler” mission. Here, you’ll find a small range of varying missions to take to, all of which prove exciting in their own way. If you’re hoping for a game that’s heavy on the online front, you’ll not be disappointed. Sniper Elite V2 Remastered shows a lot of support on this front. The campaign is fully co-op, as is the Kill Tally mode and some additional extras. Those of you looking for more of a competitive PvP experience are not left in the cold.
The game’s multiplayer offers a range of different modes to dive into, ranging the likes of Deathmatch, Dogtag Harvest, and Capture the Flag, complete with a sizable portion of varying maps to take to cater for its sixteen player capacity. Naturally, I’ve not been able to test the game’s multiplayer performance, but Rebellion have a strong track record for trouble free releases, so I’ve not concerns on this front whatsoever. In regards to the game’s visual and audio design, I can only sing the game its praises. It looks and sounds great.
The game sports a shed-load of enhancements across the board, from improved textures and particles, through to a completely revamped lighting system, along with 4K and HDR support for the Xbox One X. The differences between this version and the original are night and day, and it all sounds beautifully crisp too. The bottom line in all of this is that if you enjoyed the game the first time round, or, never got a chance to play it but enjoyed its successors, Sniper Elite V2 Remastered is a game that you simply need to pick up.
Overlooking the occasional technical fault, Sniper Elite V2 Remastered is well worth your time and attention, especially if you’re a fan of the series. The game bundles together the core experience and all its pre-existing DLC, complete with additional extras and wonderfully remastered visuals. Comparing it to its original version is truly night and day, and it remains every bit as deep, as action-packed, and as brutally delicious as it ever was.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.