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Sniper Elite V2

Deep, slow breaths. It keeps the heart beat slow and steady- keeps the sight on the rifle still. The scope peers out into the darkness, the cross-hairs centered above the face of a distance enemy soldier. Finger on the trigger and at the ready, but not now, not now. There’s a proper moment and it isn’t now, it’s too soon. A flash of lightning breaks across the sky above. A warning sign that the moment is imminent. The noise of thunder booms, masking the gunshot.

It’s at this point that Sniper Elite V2 digresses to follow the path of the bullet in slow motion as it traverses from barrel to face. The view of the soldier turns from external to internal, borrowing the X-Ray card that Mortal Kombat exercised to watch bullet tear flesh from bone and bone from flesh. And then, once the soldier is clearly dead by both medical and philosophical methods, the impact-crumpled bullet tears through the back of the man’s skull to ineffectually scrape across the concrete rubble behind him.

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This dynamic, of utilizing environmental noise to occlude the sound of the gunshot, is just one example of the kind of sniping tactics you’re expected to exploit. The violence that occurs after a reminder that this isn’t a simulation, and the subsequent score brings the feel of an arcade game. It’s World War II again and it’s up to you to stop the Nazis before they do the evil they regularly do, using their latest super weapon: the V2 rocket! It is a weapon of amazing power, able to launch vast distances to rain terror upon its enemies.

Which at first makes it seems that there’s going to be an ordinary story involving the American sniper and his amazing journey in random locations in Europe that look very similar to one another, and his desire to blow up V2 rocket launch sites. But it’s not, and the replacement isn’t necessarily better. The war is ending, Allied Forces moving in from the West and the Russians from the East. In this clash there are ten German scientists. Five of them have chosen to defect to the Americans, the other five to the Russians. Your mission is to kill those defecting to the Russians, thus preventing the reds from acquiring advanced weapons information.

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So…you’re fighting the Cold War, a war that lacked battle, while also engaged in World War II, without necessarily planning on moving on the Germans. Just a specific few. It’s a generic story to guide you through generic rubble and placeholder laboratories as you make your way around Germany, searching for the scientists or information regarding the scientists. At times the Nazis are the enemy, at other time the Russians are. They all want to kill you, so the uniform doesn’t really matter.

And it’s not like either side is really going to be any smarter than the other. The AI is a flaky mess. During firefights enemies twitch and spasm as they flicker back and forth, unsure of which direction to go or which chest-high wall to hide behind. Then one of them will run out into the open just to stop and attempt to shoot you, no matter how far away you are. And there are the times in which stealth is expected, and for that I have a story.

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I entered the room, holding a silenced pistol, the Welrod. I see two Nazis, one on the right standing up, one on the left, sitting down. I shoot the one on the right and the one on the left jumps up from his chair and immediately starts shooting. I quickly took him out with the welrod. Then, I stepped into the room to find a third Nazi. He’s standing at the window, looking out at a nearby public square, oblivious of the carnage that just occurred.

But that wasn’t the strangest thing that happened. The strangest thing is the size of the the reticle when holding either the pistol or the machine gun. Accuracy is terrible with either, and it’s only the start of a few mechanics the game uses to ensure that the player spends as little time not sniping as possible. Bullets are found by the handful only to be spat out by the machine gun by the dozen. Bad accuracy combined with limited availability of ammunition make every weapon near useless in comparison to the sniper rifle.

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It’s a good thing that everything related to the sniper rifle in this game is good. Nay, fantastic. First there’s the difficulty. Raising the difficulty of the game adds on rules to the usage of the sniper rifle. Each mode factors in the heartbeat and breath. Run around too much and you’ll have too much of the former and little of the latter, making focusing the scope trickier. Switching from easy to medium adds gravity, and then switching from medium to hard adds wind. For all of this games faults, the act of aligning the perfect shot, taking it, and succeeding is highly rewarding.

It’s too bad that everything outside of the sniping is so mediocre. It makes Sniper Elite V2 the kind of experience that’s best recommended to the player that prefers the sniping in a Battlefield game over that of a Call of Duty because it’s more realistic. There’s a tremendous focus on taking the act of sniping and holding it for all its worth. For everyone else they’ll find a mediocre shooter on a battlefield that was old and worn years ago.

6 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in July 2011.

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