Sniper Elite V2 Remastered Review

By Mark Delaney, 8 days ago
Rebellion has made a name for themselves as a studio who knows how to make a fun shooter on a lesser budget than many of their contemporaries. After quietly debuting on the original Xbox, the Sniper Elite series has been delivering better and better sequels each time. But such an upward trajectory also means going back to Sniper Elite V2 Remastered is a bit of a chore for those without nostalgia in their sights.

Screenshots

For the uninitiated, Sniper Elite is a series based on American sharpshooter Karl Fairburne and his global exploits during World War II. Before heading to Africa and Italy in later installments, Sniper Elite V2 and its newly remastered version take Fairburne to Germany during the Battle of Berlin. Fairburne's task is simple in scope (no pun intended): stop the launch of German rockets at all costs, and eliminate the men who developed the technology. Like a far-off hitman, Fairburne will sneak, perch, hold his breath and eliminate the Nazi scientists and commanders responsible for the weapons program that must never be allowed to get off the ground.

The main appeal of the game comes in its bullet physics which features three difficulties. On the easiest mode, it's point and shoot. On normal difficulty, you'll have to tend to bullet drop, while on the hardest difficulty wind is added on top it all, making you have to adjust not just vertically but laterally too. A well-placed and perfectly timed shot is rewarded with a gruesome slow-motion killcam that takes you inside the enemies as you watch their bones break and their organs deflate as you unload a high-caliber rifle into their soft tissue. Later iterations of this feature have expanded on it in even nastier ways like seeing Nazi testicles explode or their eyes disassemble, but like a lot else with Sniper Elite V2, here this feature feels somewhat primitive.

Though the sniping still feels really good, shooting with other weapons is often terrible. The design of most levels suggests that you hunker down, set up a perimeter using defensive traps like trip wire mines and land mines, and take aim, perhaps even using the cacaphony of war to hide your shots. When the enemies do know you're nearby, they'll try and get close, which makes for a fun shooting gallery unless any finally reach you, then the poor secondary weapon gunplay will often get you killed because they're so unwieldy.

Lighting and textures are much improved over the game's backward compatible version.Lighting and textures are much improved over the game's backward compatible version.

This issue is made worse by the game's unforgiving checkpoints. Sometimes long, tactical sections that are otherwise fun are liable to break down as enemies swarm and kill you quickly — as they do on most difficulty levels — forcing you to respawn and erasing a lot of progress. Enemy snipers are also incredibly accurate, to an extent which I did not find familiar despite having completed the achievement list with the original game on the 360. I don't actually suspect this has been rebalanced, but it does point to a larger problem with the game which is that the AI can really be too much to handle when you're left with great sniping but not much else. The game also lacks a minimap and its design really calls for one, and the default control scheme is far less than ideal but the game offers no substitutes.

The levels lack aesthetic variety overall, though it's really a necessary constraint due to the story which never leaves the region save for one early level partly inside a large bunker, but that's also the weakest level in the game. Seeing the same crumbling and tan-colored German cities get old after a while. Again, later games improve on this tremendously, but V2 was early days for the series and it really shows in most ways.

Where it doesn't show is in the visuals, which were properly upgraded and look great. Lighting and environmental textures are both noticeably improved, even as faces are still all a bit too smooth. Rebellion has even added a photo mode with all the usual touches like filters, borders, and a wealth of camera options. It's a nice touch to bring this part of the modern gaming world to this revitalized game.

If you don't walk away from an explosion without looking back, are you even an action hero?If you don't walk away from an explosion without looking back, are you even an action hero?

Outside of the seven-hour campaign, there's also an entire multiplayer suite including PVP and co-op, both of which offer several modes each. You can even play a full campaign in co-op, which is the game's best attribute. While the PVP is a serviceable afterthought, the campaign is the best mode and co-op makes most things better. It's simple math. I have fond memories of playing the game in co-op in 2012 but I don't think I'll go back to it much this time, instead opting for something like Strange Brigade or Zombie Army Trilogy if I want my co-op Rebellion shooter fix.

The achievement list was unavailable in my time with the game but by all accounts, it appears to be identical to the original list. That means you'll need to gather all collectibles, of which there aren't too many, beat the campaign on hard, and play several multiplayer modes. It's not too tough if you can get past the legacy issues resurfacing with this remaster. It should take no more than 20 or so hours assuming there are no curveballs in the remastered version's list.

Summary

Despite being a veteran of the series, I jumped back into Sniper Elite 3 and 4 during my review time with V2 Remastered just to remember how it's grown. In virtually every way, the series has improved in important ways since V2 – from a more intuitive control scheme to better level and mission design, more varied environments, and improved gunplay across the board. All of this makes it hard to argue that anyone new to the series should try V2 Remastered. It offers too many 2012 issues in a prettier 2019 package. However, if you're already a fan, these poorly aged issues are more forgiving, making Sniper Elite V2 Remastered worth aiming for.
3 / 5
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent 9 hours sniping people in their heads and watching their skulls explode. He is now dead inside. The achievement list was not yet live so an unknown number of achievements were unlocked. A review code was provided by the developer-publisher.
Please read our Review and Ethics Statement for more information.
Mark Delaney
Written by Mark Delaney
Mark is a Boston native now living in Portland, Oregon. He's the Editorial Manager on TA, loves most kinds of games, and is the host of the community game club TA Playlist. Outside of gaming, he likes bicycling, binge-watching, and spending time with his family. He almost never writes in the third person.