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Hands-on with Sniper Elite: V2

Sniper Elite: V2 recently released a demo within the past day or so and if the demo is any indication, the full game is going to be absolutely wonderful. Eschewing the norms of war hero melodrama, V2 instead hands players a sniper rifle and a few pieces of equipment before setting them less against the full might of the German army. Tasked with stopping the German V2 rocket program and recruiting German rocket scientists, protagonist Karl Fairbourne has to rely on stealth and excellent aim to complete his mission. The demo mission I played began as a simple assassination mission, or so it appeared.

The demo starts off innocently enough; I blow a few Germans off the street from a bombed apartment before proceeding to street-level. If I hadn’t opened fire, I could have snuck past without alerting the soldiers. However, I decided to be a ruthless killer and swept through the squad before playing cat and mouse with an enemy sniper on the city streets, busting eyeballs and hearts in incredibly graphic fashion. The X-Ray bullet camera that Rebellion has implemented suits Sniper Elite beautifully.

Speaking of beauty, I must say Sniper Elite looks great. The war-torn city I was introduced to actually looks like a war blasted the whole place to smithereens. Off in the distance the sound of gunfire and explosions echo across empty, lonely city blocks. It’s somewhat haunting to walk the streets where evidence clearly reveals life once lived here. However, the only people that remain all want to kill you and they all are modeled in grim detail. That means you can watch their expression change to horror as the bullet rips through their neck. Yeah, Sniper Elite really doesn’t pull any punches in the violence department.

I tested the demo on all three difficulties and decided that Cadet was my favorite. It simplifies the ballistics model, making it more of a point-and-shoot affair. On Cadet the game essentially becomes a kick-butt sniper movie flick where the main hero can withstand god knows how many bullets before dispatching a Panzer and a ton of German infantry. Notch the difficulty up though and the real Sniper Elite shows up. On Normal and Hardcore, every bullet fired takes into account gravity, wind speed, and wind direction. Enemy bullets can also spell insta-death if players aren’t careful. While Cadet was my favorite level of challenge, I appreciated the gritty, tough realism the higher difficulties brought to the game.

I’ve mentioned this before but I really must stress just how well Sniper Elite plays and feels. The visceral, gut-wrenching kills all highlight the stark realities of war and make every headshot or gutshot extremely rewarding. It’s an odd dichotomy of perverse glee and horrific violence that Sniper Elite has found a middle ground in. It also doesn’t help that the embedded scoring system rewards players for especially brutal kills. I can’t count the number of times I scored mega-points for an awful headshot.

Sniper Elite V2 is a markedly different shooter, emphasizing stealth and careful shots. A single missed round could spell disaster for players. Thankfully, Rebellion wants to make the game fun regardless of gamers’ experience levels and has catered different levels of challenge. The excellent gameplay and vicious satisfaction all complement the strong audio and visuals to create a cohesive package that shouldn’t be missed. Sniper Elite V2 releases May 4th and will come with the ‘Kill Hitler’ bonus pre-order mission.

Harrison L.

About Harrison L.

I eat, sleep, work, and play. Reach me at my Twitter handle!

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