A period ‘stealth’ game that might be better off staying hidden.
Sniper Elite V2 is a game confused about what exactly it wants to be. Set in the twilight of World War II, Sniper Elite stars Karl Fairburne, an American OSS agent assigned to assassinate key German targets behind enemy lines. Each mission tasks Fairburne with infiltrating hostile territory, completing an objective, and escaping. This setup could allow for a patient, stealthy dynamic that’s not often seen in realistic war games, but unfortunately Sniper Elite’s level design manages to keep pushing you back into the same open combat that every other typical shooter on the market is known for.
The key gameplay trait in the Sniper Elite series is its realistic ballistics system. While many shooters use a process called hitscan to fire your ammo directly where your crosshair is pointing, Sniper Elite simulates real-world physics that you need to keep in mind when aiming. The further away from you an enemy soldier is, the higher you’ll need to aim to account for gravity, and if it’s windy you’ll need to aim a bit to the side to correct your bullet’s trajectory as it’s blown off-target. To help judge where you should be shooting you’re able to slow Fairburne’s breathing to focus, causing a reticle to appear on-screen that shows where your bullet is going to strike. Your focus is limited by a meter that depletes when Fairburne is out of breath from running, so moving slowly and patiently is key to being able to aim reliably.
Unfortunately, the levels in Sniper Elite aren’t designed in a way that facilitates the methodical, careful action that the game mechanics set up. Too often I’d find myself in a linear, box-shaped area filled with enemy soldiers that would be alerted to my presence as soon as I fired a shot. I would try to sneak past enemies whenever possible, but I’d always end up at a dead end that could only be passed by revealing my position and alerting every soldier to my presence. The eShop listing for the game promises that “stealth is key,” and that you’ll “stalk your target, set up the shot, and use your skill, patience, and cunning to achieve the mission.” I never really felt like this was the case. With every linear level funneling me into open combat in box-shaped arenas until I was finally led to a clearly-marked objective, I can’t imagine when I was really supposed to use patience or cunning.
For what it’s worth, the Remastered version of Sniper Elite V2 is all right, but nothing special. When put side-by-side, the Remastered Switch version and the 2012 original don’t appear to have many differences. The texture quality has seen a big improvement, but some details such as lighting and depth of field are actually worse than they were on older consoles. This isn’t entirely the Switch version’s fault as the other versions of Remastered on PS4, Xbox One, and PC don’t actually have a lot of improvements either, so you aren’t losing a lot by choosing to pick up the Remastered edition on Switch.
There isn’t anything really bad about Sniper Elite V2 Remastered, but there also isn’t anything that’s particularly good either. The Remastered port itself is underwhelming, so I don’t think there’s much reason for fans of the series to take the opportunity to relive their memories of the original. Newcomers wouldn’t be making a mistake to pick up this game, but I can’t think of anything in the game that’s really worth going out of your way to check out. I’m really interested in the idea of a shooting game that’s leveraged on methodical and deliberate actions, but the level design in Sniper Elite V2 undermines its stealth mechanics so much that it ends up feeling like every other shooter on the market, but now with far less health and much harder aiming.