Sniper Elite V2 Remastered Review: A War Dog Losing Its Bite
In review, a lot has changed since Sniper Elite V2 originally released in 2012. Back then, the quasi-remake of the original Sniper Elite presented a tactical World War 2 experience from the lens of stealth. While other shooters set in the Second World War had stealth elements and infiltration missions, most had become more focused on the terrifying, yet more marketable, front-line violence.
Sniper Elite V2 slowed things down. Through the lens of the lone wolf, players gained a new perspective into the war's waning days. For some, it was the perfect marriage of games like Metal Gear Solid and Medal of Honor, Syphon Filter and Call of Duty. A more surgical experience, Sniper Elite V2 might have been niche, but it had a firm place in the shooter genre.
Enter Sniper Elite V2 Remastered. Boasting enhanced graphics and all of the original's DLC, Remastered seeks to rechamber the bullet that started it all. However, it does so with varying effect. This is, after all, a remaster and not a remake.
Similar to the Onimusha remaster earlier this year, it's certain that V2 Remastered will be criticized for its "outdatedness." Missions are linear and the save system byzantine. Sniper Elite V2 Remastered is, in fact, an old game with a new skin.
But in our review of the game, that didn't make it any less fun.
Players take the role of master sniper Lieutenant Karl Fairburne in his quest to stop the Nazi V2 rocket program from swinging the tide of the war. In propagandistic fashion, the story is trite and cliched, and you'll experience few if any surprises along the way. We've seen this sort of tale before in countless films and video game franchises.
All you need to know is that Nazis (and some Russian combatants) need killin'. Of course, you're the one to do it.
Gameplay mostly centers around you and your rifle. As you progress through the game's 10 story missions, you come across several rifles, including a Mosin Nagant and a Gewehr 43. Neither truly seem to provide any appreciable benefits over the other, and you only change between them because the story dictates it.
In addition to sniper rifles, you have access to a Thompson submachine gun and a silenced pistol called a Welrod. The Thompson comes in handy in a pinch, although burst fire is the only "accurate" way of hitting anything, and the Welrod comes in handy during stealth situations but is woefully inaccurate if fired from more than a few feet away from your target.
As with other stealth games, you can also distract guards by throwing rocks, blow up groups of soldiers with grenades, and set traps with dynamite, trip wires, and mines.
You have some choice in how you dispatch the enemies in your path, but you won't find the options/loadouts/skill trees provided by most modern games. Even those in Sniper Elite 3 and Sniper Elite 4 are (unsurprisingly) more robust.
Despite such a small armory, shooting a rifle in V2 Remastered still feels fantastic seven years later. On Cadet difficulty, simply lining up a shot and pulling the trigger often does the trick. That's especially true if you kneel and empty your lungs beforehand.
However, Sniper truly shines on its higher difficulties. Here, shots are more strategic and tactical. Most require patience and restraint, with all taking windage and drop into account. In these moments, you feel most like the methodical, skilled sniper you're portrayed to be.
That feeling intensifies when Remastered's X-ray killcam comes in to play. Sure it's old and now a staple of the series, but that doesn't mean it feels any less invigorating. There's nothing quite like the cornucopia of blood and bone that explodes from the backend of a well-placed shot.
Watching your bullet spiral through the air looks better this time around, too. Gone is the weird-looking airwave spiraling behind the bullet from the original. A small tweak, but one that makes the world just a tad more visceral.
The biggest "upgrade" in V2 Remastered is, unsurprisingly, the game's graphics. The comparison trailer above does a good job of showcasing what Rebellion's done, but I can't sit here and say the graphics are a huge improvement over the original.
For the most part, the game looks fantastic. Character models are smoother, although they show their age. Karl's fatigues aren't as muddy as they once were, and thankfully, his hair doesn't remind me of Bela Lugosi's in White Zombie anymore. But these improvements aren't game-changers.
Guns now have more accurate color palettes, with the game's rifles switching from the original's muddier tones to brighter ones here. Vehicles now look a touch more detailed, with better-defined edges and angles. But these improvements aren't game changers.
Where the graphics are seemingly most refined, though, are in its environments and lighting. Now, stages have more rubble in the streets or piled against buildings; individual pieces are more easily recognizable, looking less like muddy globs and more like defined shapes. In this version, cobblestone looks more like cobblestone, wood more like wood, and foliage more like foliage.
Since light and shadow play such integral roles in stealth games, it's good to see those have been improved as well. Street lights cast more uniform glows and lightning illuminates environments in more realistic tones. The most noticeable differences aren't in the game's many fires, but in the night and evening levels, where light creeps over the horizon or through slatted windows.
I never played multiplayer in the original Sniper Elite V2, so I can't make comparisons to Remastered. However, I can say that MP in Remastered is smooth. Servers aren't bustling a day after launch, but finding matches in both competitive and cooperative play is easy.
Overall, connections are good, load times are adequate, and lag is nearly non-existent. Maps aren't teeming with players, but in a game predicated on stealth and patience, that's a welcome change from the frenetic online battles found in other games.
Moment to moment, competitive play is some of the most stressful and nerve-wracking I've ever experienced. Playing with a group of like-minded snipers is long and laborious but extremely rewarding, especially considering the game's old-school mechanics. Along with the campaign's higher difficulties, this is where SEV2 Remastered feels the most like a sniper simulator.
However, I enjoy co-op in SEV2 Remastered the most. I'm a sucker for taking on the A.I. with another human player, so I'm biased here. Playing the campaign and the game's various challenge modes with another player opens up new strategic avenues, and I can only wish local co-op was an option.
- Lighting and shadows upgrades really make the world pop
- X-ray killcam is still as cool as ever
- Shooting a rifle feels fantastic
- Comes with all SE2 DLC
- While nice, the graphics aren't a monumental improvement
- Run-and-gun controls still suck
- No manual save feature
- Can't skip cutscenes
For those that already have Sniper Elite V2 and its DLC, it's hard to recommend Remastered, especially at the $9.99 upgrade price. There's just not much new here. Running the original V2 at 4K 60fps provides a similar graphical experience; Remastered looks great, but its graphics aren't leagues better. And the gameplay is essentially the same.
If you already have the game in your Steam library, you're essentially paying $9.99 for a skin upgrade. That changes if you don't have the game's DLC or want to play multiplayer on servers that are bound to live longer than those of the original.
But for those that have never played Sniper Elite V2, this is the perfect way to experience a classic, blemishes and all. Remastered is a throwback. Having read forums and conjecture on social media, I cannot stress enough this is a remaster — not a remake.
What was "wrong" with the original Sniper V2 is still "wrong" here. It doesn't have the quality of life improvements we've come to expect of third-person shooters — or even the Sniper series after games like SE3 and SE4.
That fact alone doesn't make it any less fun, but it does mean it's wise to temper expectations before deploying to World War II Berlin once again.
[Note: A copy of Sniper Elite V2 Remastered was provided by Rebellion for the purpose of this review.]
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