Lie prone, steady your heart rate, take aim, and hold your breath. Sniper Elite V2 Remastered’s greatest moments come as a reward for your patience. After stalking your target and placing trip mines to fortify your position, you carefully wait until your rifle fire is masked by a loud sound before squeezing the trigger to unleash a skull-puncturing shot that seals their gory demise.
It’s in these tense moments that Rebellion’s sniping experience never wavers in delivering a thrill, especially once you become so caught up in what you’re doing that you start to curse at the screen whenever your bullet sails past its intended victim rather than resulting in your perspective shifting to the gruesome slow-motion bullet cam.
You play as US sniper Karl Fairburne, who, parachuted into Berlin as the horrors of World War II near their close, has been tasked with stopping the besieging Red Army from obtaining the Nazi’s V2 rocket program technology.
That will see you set out to complete objectives such as assassinating a target carrying documents that will lead you to the V2 production facility, covertly blowing a bridge to smithereens to prevent Russian tanks from advancing, or saving a German scientist from a horrid execution.
Approaching missions stealthily will ease the progress that you make towards your objective, but, given the linearity of the level design, there’s only so much freedom that they can allow. You can hurl rocks to distract enemy soldiers or use your binoculars to tag targets, but, make one wrong move, and your mission can soon descend into a chaotic firefight.
After artillery bombardments masked my fire as I carefully eliminated soldiers along a whole street, I turned the corner only for two enemy snipers to spot me resulting in more soldiers rushing my position. It was this situation, among others, that taught me that Sniper Elite V2 Remastered’s gameplay experience is best kept at a distance, as your secondary weapons – submachine guns and pistols – were rarely adequate enough to save me from.
Once you’re forced into engaging patrolling enemies in close quarters, the game becomes unstuck. You can do your best to hide, leaving behind a silhouette to indicate the location where you were last seen. But, more often than not, the enemy response is overwhelmingly aggressive and the environments lacking in places to hide that you’re best accepting your fate – reloading your last checkpoint to make another attempt.
It’s the sniper rifle that, unsurprisingly, beats at the game’s core. You are constantly scored on your sniping prowess, which encourages headshots, taking out enemies at longer distances, and demonstrating your skill by neutralizing moving targets. The slow-motion bullet cam that comes as a reward for carefully lining up your shot helps to make gratifying – watching the flight of your bullet before it punctures its target, splintering their bones and shredding organs in the process.
Given the game’s linearity, it won’t take most too long to complete the main single-player campaign. However, there’s more than enough content to spend time with aside from that. There’s the chance to team up with another player locally or online in co-op, which was a lag-free experience when I checked it out with a friend. You can choose to cooperatively tackle the campaign missions, but, without patience and coordination, these can feel like harder work compared to playing solo.
There are also other cooperative options in Kill Tally, Bombing Run, and Overwatch, as well as eight-player competitive multiplayer modes such as Team Deathmatch, Capture The Flag, Distance King, Team Dog Tag Harvest, and others. Sadly, in the week after launch, this hasn’t been particularly active. Searching for matches at peak times has still only resulted in finding a handful of players – meaning that, on the portable home console at least, Sniper Elite V2 Remastered’s multiplayer component is best considered as a cooperative experience. It certainly doesn’t falter in that area.
There are in-game achievements to unlock that match other consoles, and a frame-by-frame Photo Mode for those that enjoy taking more dynamic-looking screenshots. There’s also all the downloadable content that was previously released, adding four new campaign missions – with one even tasking you to assassinate Adolf Hitler. And then, hidden away in the Controls options, there’s the chance to use motion controls that, while optional, some will like to use to lend added precision.
Undeniably, Sniper Elite V2 Remastered presents an experience that’s unlike anything else on Nintendo Switch at this point in time. But, knowing the improvements that were to come in the conflicts that its sniper hero has more recently participated in, the gameplay loop feels dated in comparison. That’s not to say that this sequel can’t entertain, thanks in large part to its endlessly satisfying slow-motion bullet cam. Without that spectacle, the experience is far too standard.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Rebellion