Despite riding high on the fourth main entry of the series doing the rounds, Rebellion have gone back to the last of its linear Sniper Elite games and given it a current generation remaster.
The problem is, it was made at a time when “realistic shooter” just meant “everything is brown”, which by today’s standard is such an outdated concept. But cast that niggle aside, and stick with it for what makes Sniper Elite the draw it is: cathartic, slow motion, long distance Nazi cranial carnage.
So, what is it about V2 that makes it special over its current generation sequels, or the Sniper: Ghost Warrior series? For me, it’s the lack of open world that makes it more fun. The problem that I faced with the later games is that having an open world makes it harder by design.
As I mentioned in the latest podcast, sniping an enemy 200ft away, only to flanked on all sides by those half the distance away and making escape harder isn’t fun. Unlike Just Cause and GTA with its many options, including verticality, or Metal Gear Solid V with its ground-based retreats, Sniper Elite only leaves you with feet or hiding.
By taking that away and focusing it into a linear, corridor experience in which you have to mostly fight your way through (I say mostly, but you’ll only sneak past small clusters of guards at any one time), it makes for a more action packed game. It also means you can better utilise your traps better, by knowing the enemy can only sneak up on your backdoor, not every which way.
However, that’s not to suggest that every level is a corridor, broken up by the odd courtyard, a la Gears of War. The second proper level, the Mittelwork Facility, has a large courtyard at the start, allowing you to pick off targets as discreetly as you can try. It does then turn into a procession of similar corridors that on occasion turn into more third person shooter if you’re not careful, but that’s sometimes inevitable.
So far, so 2012. This is nothing that we didn’t see back in the original release on the PS3/Xbox 360 back in the day. I finished it on Xbox, on one of the harder difficulties, before taking part in some of the co-op with my brother.
Besides the sprucing up of graphics, V2 Remastered doesn’t bring anything new to the table in that regard. Which, I suppose is neither good nor bad, as Rebellion haven’t promised the moon on a stick, nor compromised on the original vision.
Those warts I mentioned at the beginning are mostly benign, if you’re willing to look past the outdated graphics. If you’re someone who can’t resist the urge to pick, then you’re only going to be annoyed when you pick too far.
The problem with games of that time, especially military shooters, is “realism” became a shorthand for dull, brown and grey colour palettes. Bright colours were left to Borderlands and the like, whilst we broke in the HD era with all the muted, muddy colours.
Now, given that Sniper Elite is set in war-torn Berlin at the height of WWII, it’s not completely amiss to have this view of things. Buildings blown to rubble, streets torn and damaged by artillery and machinery, it’s not going to compromise on the vision of what war was really like.
That being said, this is only a graphical remaster, not a rebuild. So textures that looked flat previously, are still going to look flat today. Just shinier.
You may be wondering where the meat in this overhaul is then, or for the more cynical of you, why they even bothered in the first place? It’s been put into what made Sniper Elite popular in the first place: the slow motion, highly graphic kill-cams.
These still satisfy the gore hounds with their Xray kills; popping Nazi skulls, hearts and testicles aplenty. Now, granted that this has been vastly improved in the sequels, it’s not fair to say that V2 is worse. It would be like comparing Mario Galaxy to Odyssey: the latter is current, the former still looks great for its time.
But then, if you buy a remaster knowingly, yet complain about the older nature of it, you rightly deserve a slap upside your entitled head.
So, you’ve come this far, and if you’re new to the series, you might be wondering as to what the actual story is.
Placed in the eagle eyes of OSS officer Karl Fairburne, you’re dropped into Berlin during Operation Paperclip, during April-May 1945. Sent to either rescue or eliminate key personnel responsible for the building of V2 ballistic missiles, the first two missions see you take out a defector and scientist, respectively, leading to the discovery of missile production.
Tasked by high command, Fairburne is sent to stop production and launch at all costs, armed only with a Springfield rifle and a small arsenal. Things soon start to escalate as the Soviets get involved, as a discovery that the V2 rockets will be loaded with nerve gas as a payload.
It’s pretty straightforward military affair, as the mighty and noble American hero saves the day from the tyrannical Nazi regime. Unlike his blonde haired bulky counterpart in the Wolfenstein series, Fairburne cannot withstand barrages of bullets. The emphasis on gameplay is more attuned to at least trying to be stealthy.
Masking shots as tannoy announcements blare or aircraft fly overheard makes stealth a more viable option, as is the ability to hide bodies. However, it’s more an addition to the gameplay as a key component, as you never get snuck up from behind through levels.
On a positive note, the oft-seen “tacked on” multiplayer is actually one of the more positive aspects of the game. Besides the campaign co-op, there’s a small caveat of multiplayer modes that a few different ways to play.
Kill Tally is a horde-esque mode, seeing you and a partner compete for the highest score in a wave mode. Ammo is unlimited, and you’re essentially holding an Alamo-style score battle until you both fall.
Bombing Run is a timed event, tasking you with fixing a broken truck to escape in before the area is carpet bombed, all the while defending yourself.
Finally, Overwatch (not related to the MMO shooter), plays as a sniper/spotter duo scenario. Whilst the sniper hangs back and provides cover, the spotter is tasked with braving the firefight, marking up targets for the sniper to take out.
It makes a nice change from the standard PvP multiplayer tacked on in most games, and makes the prominent use of the sniping mechanic between you and a friend, not just relying on generic iron sight combat.
So in terms of bringing anything new to the table, content-wise, Sniper Elite V2 Remastered doesn’t blow any minds with that. It does feature the latest modern staple of gaming, a glorious photo mode for all you slo-mo sadists, which is quite nice in 4K.
Otherwise, it’s essentially a rehash of the 2012 classic, spruced up for the current console generation. As a negative, you could argue it’s not worth shouting about bringing anything new, but as a strong positive: it’s as fun as it was seven years ago.
If open world fatigue is setting in, why not give some “vintage” corridor shooting a go. There will never not be satisfaction in shooting Nazis, so go nuts.
If you missed it the first time around, treat yourself. If you’re coming back from the original, cast aside any aspersions and just lose yourself in some classic Sniper Elite goodness.
Sniper Elite V2 Remastered is available now on PS4 (reviewed on PS4 Pro), Xbox One, PC and Switch.
In order to complete this review, we were provided with a review code from the publisher. For our full review policy please go here.
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