Sniper Elite V2 Remastered Review

Sniper Elite V2 Remastered is the latest release in the long-running WWII series from the developer Rebellion. Originally published in 2012 for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC, V2 was more of a reboot than a sequel to the first game and laid the groundwork for two sequels that would improve on that formula. V2 is also something of an anomaly, being quite linear compared to the other three Sniper Elite games. With that said, is Sniper Elite V2‘s unique take on the series worth revisiting or should it be left in the past (like Nazis)?

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Sniper Elite V2 Remastered (as with all of the other entries in the franchise) puts you in control of Karl Fairburne, an OSS soldier whose missions take him behind enemy lines in order to assassinate targets, steal intel, or to otherwise stop various nefarious Nazi plans. Mr. Fairburne is much less of a character and more of a body to inhabit. That is to say, his personality is minimal at best. The Sniper Elite series has never attempted to create compelling plots or engaging characters and V2 is no different. The narratives in these games simply seek to provide an excuse to snipe Nazis. MachineGame’s Wolfenstein, Sniper Elite is not.

I never got into V2 when it was originally released. I picked it up on a sale but only played a mission or two because, even for 2012, the game was stiff and the stealth poor. But after enjoying Sniper Elite III and absolutely loving Sniper Elite 4,V2 Remastered seemed like the perfect opportunity to revisit the final days of WWII. Unfortunately, the game is still stiff and the stealth still poor.

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When I say stiff, I don’t just mean that the controls feel rigid (they do though). The world and your interactions with it feel restrictive; you can only do what is allowed. As I wrote that, I realized it’s a ludicrous complaint because this is a game and of course you can only do what you're allowed to. But it’s the feeling that you should be able to do something based on other things you can do. For example, there are a lot of waist-high walls in the game and a good deal of them either do not actually protect you (from gunfire or lines of sight) or do not allow you to “enter cover.” Along these lines, some windows allow you to look over the sill while you are snapped into cover and others do not. This is despite that fact that the difference between the windows is seemingly a few inches. Another example is that you can shoot the fuel caps on tanks, cargo trucks, etc and make them explode. But only a small number of these vehicles behave this way, most are just set dressing. And it is in this way that Sniper Elite V2 feels very rigid.

While Sniper Elite III could be considered a stealth game and Sniper Elite 4 definitely is a stealth game, Sniper Elite V2 really isn’t. It is a tactical game with some half-baked stealth elements. You and your enemies are fragile and ammo is mostly limit but you can’t sneak by most enemies and you can only stealthily dispatch small numbers before being found out. There are many times where you cannot proceed stealthily at all because, at a certain point, enemies magically know where you are. Furthermore, V2 actively discourages traditional stealthful playing with its scoring system. As far as I can tell, the scores have no bearing on anything (except one multiplayer mode) but you are scored on your kills and a close-up stealthy headshot awards you with at least 3x as many points a stealthy melee kill. Which feels weird.

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What V2 is more interested in you doing is surveying your surroundings, fortifying your location with gadgets, picking off enemies with your sniper rifle (which you have plenty of ammo for), and defending yourself with your machine gun if necessary (you have precious little ammo for it). When this works, it’s great. The problem is that because levels are so linear, you can only scope out a small area at a time even though you can often see areas where you will be going and the enemies will not have spawned there yet so you can rarely take pre-emptive measures. Also, there are numerous “Nazi closets” where enemies spawn in rooms or areas that you’ve already cleared and there is nowhere for them to have actually come from but they show up all the same.

Anyway, on to what all V2 Remastered includes. The original game was kind of doled out in pieces. Upon release, the game sported a campaign and three cooperative multiplayer modes. Over the course of about a year, multiple single-player missions were released as a well as a traditional competitive multiplayer suite. V2 Remastered includes all of the DLC released for the original plus new character skins from the Zombie Army games from Rebellion.

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There are four DLC single-player missions, one was a pre-order bonus and three were post-release add-ons. These bonus missions aren’t anything special. They’re all tiny, taking five to ten minutes to complete (a normal mission takes 30-45 minutes) and there’s nothing particularly interesting about them. Originally included in these DLC missions were additional weapons and they have a greater impact on the game. In the original V2 you started with a Springfield rifle, upgraded to a Mosin-Nagant in mission three, and found a Gewehr 43 in mission six. Now, you have those three sniper rifles as well as six others, two additional machine guns for a total of five, and two additional pistols for a total of five as well. All of these are available from the first mission. This is honestly the biggest improvement in the remaster because you can customize your loadout the way you see fit.

The cooperative multiplayer has four modes: the campaign, Kill Tally, Overwatch, and Bombing Run. The campaign is simply a two-player vision of the single-player missions. Kill Tally is a wave-based horde mode (are we still calling these horde modes?) and can be played alone or with a friend as you fight up to ten waves of enemies. Overwatch has one player taking the role of an operative and one as a sniper. The operative is on the ground with close range weapons and can tag enemies for the sniper to target. Bombing run sees you and buddy scrounging through a map for parts to fix a plane and escape before the titular bombing run.

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The competitive multiplayer suite has five modes: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Distance King, Team Distance King, and Capture the Flag. The only real stand out is Distance King. Simply put, it doesn’t matter how many of your opponents you kill, it matters how far from them you are when you kill them. This is the previously mentioned mode where the points matter. Since Sniper Elite V2 was reviewed prior to release, so there was no one online to test any of these modes out with.

As for any other changes and upgrades to V2 Remastered, the main changes are found in the visuals. If you played the game on PC, it looks largely the same. There are some minor aesthetic tweaks (more ivy here, more rubble there, more fire over here, and better lighting over there) but none of them stood out to me while playing the game, only when watching the comparison trailer. If you originally played the game on console then the PS4 and Xbox One versions’ graphics are more or less boosted up to the PC’s level. The single biggest visual change is Mr. Fairburne’s hair, it is now parted (the way it is in Sniper Elite 4) instead of being slicked back and I wholeheartedly approve of this change.

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Sniper Elite V2 felt dated in 2012 and V2 Remastered definitely feels dated in 2019. The game is not terrible by any means, but it’s not particularly good either. As a package, V2 Remastered doesn’t offer much more than a “Game of the Year” edition would. The new weapons and visual upgrades are nice but uncompelling. For returning players, I don’t see enough new to really justify playing this version over the original. For new players, Sniper Elite 4 is simply a superior game in every single way and if you are at all interested in the series, I would highly recommend starting with it. Sniper Elite V2, remastered or not, is still a linear, stiff tactical shooter with half-baked stealth elements that is probably best left to the past. Just like Nazis.

Jonathan is the host of the DarkCast, DarkCast Interviews, and Gamers Read. He loves books, video games, and superheroes. If he had to pick favorites, they would be Welcome to the Monkey House, Mass Effect, and Superman respectively.