Chris Watters draws a bead on Sniper Elite V2 and squeezes the trigger in this video review.
There are many challenges that await the virtual sniper. Infiltrating an area undetected, stalking your prey, and acquiring an uninterrupted line of sight–the tension of the hunt. Picking off targets, moving to a new position, setting traps, and evading your enemies–the thrill of the chase. Taking aim, calculating distance, slowly exhaling, and squeezing the trigger–the release of the kill. The satisfactions of sniping are many, but Sniper Elite V2 serves them up inelegantly, making it an uneven game for those who love the long shot.
Like its predecessor, Sniper Elite V2 is set during the closing days of WWII. You’re an American sniper sent in to stop the Russians from scooping up Nazi scientists. Naturally, things don’t go as planned and you have to improvise. The story plays out in nicely acted voice-overs and perfunctory cutscenes, providing a decent backdrop for your missions. The solid level design makes good use of the setting, as bombed-out buildings and barricaded streets provide lots of nice hiding places for a lone sniper. Unsurprisingly, PC players get a much-better-looking version of ruined Berlin, enjoying crisp details and lovely skies while Xbox 360 owners deal with softer, more muted visuals.
The beginning of each mission starts out stealthily. You are behind enemy lines, and your only allies are the weapons and munitions you carry with you. You can carry a rifle, a submachine gun, and a sidearm, and though you unlock new weapons as you progress, the differences are slight. More crucial is your choice of explosives. Trip wires, land mines, dynamite, and grenades all blow up in different ways, and having enough firepower to set an extra trap or take out a cluster of advancing enemies can be a big help.
But before you start blowing things up, it behooves you to remain quiet as long as possible. Crouch-walking everywhere gets tiresome, but loud footsteps attract hostile attention, and even one enemy in close quarters can spell doom for the fragile sniper. You can often make good progress with sneaky melee kills, silenced pistol shots, and timed rifle reports that are masked by the noise of exploding bombs or tolling bells. Guards usually move in predictable patterns that you can exploit, or you can lure them closer for a cleaner kill.
While your SMG and pistol are great teammates, your rifle is the franchise player. Shots to heads and torsos usually kill or incapacitate your foes. You can hone your targeting by slowly exhaling, which slows time and zooms in slightly. If your aim is true, you are rewarded with one of the many gruesome and gratifying camera shots that Sniper Elite V2 lovingly serves up. The camera tracks the bullet and gives you a front-row seat to the moment of impact. Sometimes you just watch the bullet enter and exit the body, leaving a blooming exit wound behind. The more dramatic moments offer an X-ray view of the bullet smashing through bones and tearing through organs in grisly slow motion. These are brutal and gratuitous (perhaps too much so, for some), but even after hours of sniping, they never get old.