If you are a first or third-person shooter fan, then you know that there is nothing that can quite compare to the satisfaction you get from sniping an enemy. It’s a gentler, more refined way of killing your opponents. Well, that’s if you get a headshot and not a toe-shot. Pull off the titular No-Scope in a multiplayer game, and you’ve got bragging rights for weeks (or at least for the duration of your session). Whether you play Battlefield 3, Modern Warfare 3 or are just dying to get on Halo 4, sniping will always be the domain of the elite few. Coincidentally, there’s a game for players who want just that.
Sniper Elite V2 kicks crude weapons like assault rifles and uzis to the curb in favor of a variety of sniper rifles. Precision rifles like the American Springfield, Russian Mosin-nagant and German Gewehr 33 are all at your disposal in this World War II adventure.
While WWII games may be nothing new, Sniper Elite V2 adds an additional layer of coolness to sniping. Instead of simply zooming in on a target and shooting, players can zoom in and execute Mortal Kombat style X-Ray kills. If you’re heart rate is below 80, you can enter Focus Time. It’s your typical Bullet Time feature, with one distinct difference. If you target an enemy just right, you will see a full animation sequence of your shot from the moment the bullet leaves your gun to a second after the bullet shreds through the body of your victim. As your bullet enters its target, you will see an X-Ray of the target’s bones and other vitals. The X-Ray Kill Cam isn’t just for headshots so you’ll see a variety of different X-Rays and different body parts getting torn up. I got to play Sniper Elite 2 for about an hour, and the X-Ray kills never got old or felt gimmicky.
Truthfully, the fun in Sniper Elite 2 comes from getting those precision kills. The Focus Cam and X-Ray are the cherries on top, which let you savor the exactness of each execution. The game offers custom difficulty levels for players who really want to test their worth as a sniper. At higher difficulty levels wind and bullet drop play bigger roles in the sniping experience. This improved ballistics system really captures the essence of sniping. In these instances, the Focus Cam becomes even more crucial. The farther away the target is, the more likely the bullet will begin to drop due to gravity. So, players will have to aim higher. By going into Focus mode, you will see an additional red target in your sniper scope. This shows the exact location the bullet will hit as it drops. Over long distances, you’ll learn to shoot over the head of the opponent to compensate for bullet drop. Sniper Elite 2 also takes into account breath control (marked by a lung icon in your HUD), muzzle velocity, and stability of aim.
The single-player campaign takes place in 1945 Berlin. The set design features a lot of blown-out buildings. This gives you and your enemy more places to find cover. In addition to standard sniping, players can also kill enemies by sniping the grenades right on their opponent’s belt or take out tanks by sniping a fuel tank. While the game is inherently about stealth, it doesn’t always play out that way. Gamers have an unmarked British pistol at their disposal for close-quarters kills. There are also some great blood-spatter effects for those up-close-and-personal handgun kill.
Gameplay doesn’t focus strictly on single-kill interactions. Often, you’ll have to “pick off” the best enemy (or enemies) first so that you stand a better chance of taking out the other nine attackers. Players can also set items like trip-mines to guard their sniper position.
In addition to using the environment to stay hidden, players can also mask their shots through the sound in the environment. For instance, on one level a bell begins to ring. If you snipe during this time, the other opponents won’t hear your gun fire. Using your binoculars you can mark your targets, which helps you to keep track of them as they move behind buildings. This marking feature comes into play in Overwatch, one of the game’s three online modes.
I got the chance to play Overwatch, which is a two-person cooperative survival mode. In this mode, one player works as the Spotter, marking enemy positions for the other player to snipe. As the sniper, you’re locked into a single location (such as the fourth floor of a building), while the spotter runs out into the battlefield to complete objectives. Snipers have to guard their spotters by providing cover fire. The spotter gets a chance to use more traditional shooter weapons, including a rocket launcher. The sniper isn’t always safe. There are always enemy snipers lurking about setting their sights on you.
Sniper Elite 2 also features a Bombing Run and Kill Tally mode. In Bombing Run, players have to pick up equipment parts to secure their escape before they get bombed. Kill Tally is a survival mode where you face off against waves of attackers.
Sniper Elite V2 hits Xbox 360 and PS3 on May 1. The game lists at $49.99.