Sniper Elite V2 PS3 review
If this Sniper Elite V2 PS3 review feels a little familiar then spare a thought for United States uber-sniper Karl Fairburne. He isn’t likely to be a fan of Groundhog Day – it’s too much like his virtual life. Sent to WWII-stricken Berlin for the 2005 PS2 original (which you probably never played), then again for Wii in 2010 (which you probably didn’t know existed), he’s on exactly the same mission in 2012.
Fairburne doesn’t seem to mind, though. From the crow’s feet around his eyes to his dusty desert scarf – is this Nathan Drake’s weapon-obsessed grandfather? – he looks and sounds like a hero from an old pulp comic who’s raring to win the war single-handedly. Without a hint of back-up (or a tongue in cheek) you’re plunged into the fray with only a sniper rifle and hammy narration for company.
But let’s be honest with one another. You don’t want to hear about the graphically uninspiring but surprisingly detailed environments, or the impressive ballistics. You want to know about the X-ray kill cam. A cinematic that follows well-aimed bullets and turns enemies into walking biology class dummies, you see livers burst, eyeballs explode and lungs rupture in gory glory.
There’s immense satisfaction in finding your target hidden on a roof and following the bullet across the street, through his skull and out through the back of his head. My first X-ray kill sent a bullet flying into my victim’s mouth, turning his teeth into a violent explosion of molars.
Sniping controls are satisfyingly weighty. There are three modes, so even the least knowledgeable of sneaky shooters can appreciate the action. Cadet is the simplest, with no nasty wind effects. (Behave.) Marksman makes things a little more realistic, and Sniper Elite means relentless pursuit from enemies with heart rate, stance and wind all affecting targeting.
Emptying your lungs creates a steadier aim, and once your pulsating heart – pictured helpfully in the scope HUD – slows to a gentle rhythm, you can watch as enemies react horribly realistically to your bullets. Impressive physics mean that from just a glimpse of a shoulder behind cover, you can aim and maim with ease.
Exploration focuses on the choice between tackling enemies with all guns blazing or taking a stealthier approach through somewhat linear environments. Tripwire mines can be used to great advantage if you’re feeling Assassin-like, and some missions have a helpful meter in the corner letting you know when your victims won’t hear your rifle.
A fun sneaking mission has you waiting on church bells to chime before picking off enemies one by one. Sadly, the stealth option is marred by a clunky close-up combat system. A silent attack is possible but sometimes doesn’t activate, leaving you standing behind clueless AI, waiting for them to turn around. With no melee option, it’s a case of shooting and running away as you reveal your position.
It might be like playing a cheesy film you’d find on Movies4Men before 10pm, but Sniper Elite V2 is an atmospheric and compulsive experience. It’s only taken three versions of the same game for you to notice it exists, and if you can ignore the clunky controls and concentrate on aiming that gun, there’s much to enjoy.