Note: At the time of review, multiplayer servers were not available, so the following will be a review of the single player campaign only.
Sniper Elite V2 originally released in 2012 on last gen consoles and the PC. Developed and self-published by Rebellion Developments, the Sniper Elite series were and have always occupied that mid-budget space which frankly and unfortunately doesn’t exist in the same capacity as it did last generation.
My first game in this franchise was Sniper Elite 4, which I absolutely love. So in a sense, I’m going back to older mechanics to see how this franchise has progressed. There is a lot that I expected to be different in Rebellion’s sophomore outing of this franchise. Sniper Elite V2 Remastered promises to include updated visuals, different playable characters, and a photo mode when it releases on May 14 for $35 on Steam. I’ve been playing it, and this is our review of Sniper Elite V2 Remastered on PC.
You play as an American OSS officer named Karl Fairburne tasked with eliminating the key scientists involved in the German V-2 rocket program during WWII. Taking place between April and May 1945, this is clearly during the death throes of the Nazi regime. This hindsight brings with it added tension. As the player and modern person, you know that the war is ending soon, but Rebellion nevertheless still manages to create tension against this backdrop with mixed results.
I’m playing this on a pretty high end PC equipped with the following:
- CPU: i7 8700k
- GPU: RTX 2080 Ti
- RAM: 16 GB DDR4 @ 3200 MHz
- Monitor: Acer Predator XB321HK 4K Gsync @ 60 Hz
- Nvidia Driver: 430.64
- Game installed to Samsung 850 EVO 1 TB SSD
Playing fully maxed out at 4K, overall performance is pretty damn great, as expected with a remaster played on these specs. Initially, I did experience some stuttering. My GPU usage at 4K was pretty low, so I upped the internal resolution scale to 2.25x. This did relieve the stuttering, and also resulted in a ridiculously clean supersampled image. Despite this insane internal resolution, I was still easily able to hit and maintain 60fps without a single dropped frame. More modest PCs should easily be able to maintain 60fps at various resolutions in Sniper Elite V2 Remastered.
Graphics options are a bit limited. I find this is a bit disappointing. Even though this is an older game, I was hoping a modern lick of paint would bring with it additional options. I wasn’t expecting Ubisoft-level of control here, but certainly more than the limited offering on hand.
You can change the usual things like texture resolution, antialiasing (which appears to be post process in nature), and draw distance. The game also includes some post process toggles for motion blur, ambient occlusion, and compute shaders. I would have liked to see more modern touches such as tooltips when selecting a graphics option to provide less savvy players with some additional information on the options available. Overall, the options could be more, and I wonder if their limited nature is due to limitations with the engine.
The graphics themselves are a bit of a mixed back. Short of fully remaking a game like Capcom’s excellent Resident Evil 2, there is a limit to how much you can improve in a remaster. For instance, textures are much improved from the original, but fall short of modern titles on PC. Lighting appears volumetric, like a late last-gen/early current-gen console title, but nowhere near as accurate or gorgeous of titles from the past few years.
Motion blur is actually not too bad and appears to have a decent number of samples. Since motion blur is a simple toggle, we cannot control the accuracy of this effect in-game. Overall, the post process suite has been given an update to bring some modern flourishes, which I do welcome.
Subsurface scattering appears to be present, at least on the player character. Character detail is still last-gen with regards to polygon count. Ambient occlusion is present, but relatively inaccurate as is evident by the shadowy halos around my character’s fingers in the screenshot above. It looks unnatural.
Tessellation looks to be present, yet its usage appears inconsistent. For example, look at the barrel of the gun above and note how round it appears, yet my character’s fingers appear fairly polygonal by comparison. Overall, Sniper Elite V2 Remastered definitely has a “last-gen uprezzed” look, which I suppose is to be expected. As a I stated above, we must remember that this is a remaster, not a ground-up remake like Resident Evil 2. It’s not the worst-looking graphical remaster I’ve seen, but far from the best.
The audio is perfectly fine, with sliders for music, speech, and effects. The music, while not outstanding, nevertheless does its job telegraphing the situation to the player which can add to the tension. The sound design is decent overall, with one exception. I found that my own footsteps were much louder than any other sound effect, which I found legitimately distracting.
Photo mode has been included as part of the remaster. It does feel a bit limited compared to some other titles out there. It includes basic options to modify like camera movement, FOV, depth of field, filters, vignette, etc. I found it a bit lacking in fine control compared to other photo modes from more modern titles, but its inclusion is nevertheless welcome. I’m going to keep saying this till I’m blue in the face: all games need photo mode
This being a PC game, the keybindings and mouse control options are decent but, like so many other features in Sniper Elite V2 Remastered, a bit lacking. Unlike the graphics, however, I don’t believe the oversight in granular PC control options are due to any inherent engine limitation.
The good thing is that it does have the basics, but that’s about it. We receive toggles for mouse smoothing and reducing input lag. However, we do not get independent sensitivity sliders for gamepad sticks and mouse movement. Both are controlled by a single set of sliders, meaning any change on these sliders affect both gamepad and mouse. Additionally, the game does not feature secondary key bindings. Rebellion could have done more for PC controls here.
Before any mission, you’re briefed with the objective you’re tasked with carrying out. Here, you can change your loadout. You have a limited number of points with which to allocate to items in your loadout, so choose carefully. For example, I never use grenades, so I have an extra point which I use towards trip mines. The game also sports a bunch of different types of rifles, secondary, and pistols to select.
You can also choose a playable character, a new addition to this remaster. I primarily played as Beth Coleman, a former painter who put down her brushes and picked up a gun. Note, this is effectively just a skin. In cutscenes, you default to the main protagonist, Karl Fairburne.
This feels a bit jarring when you go from gameplay to cutscene because you’re suddenly no longer seeing your selected character in the cutscene, but I get why Rebellion did this. They wanted to give people the option to customize their character to an extent, but this is still Karl’s story.
If you’ve played any Sniper Elite game, you’ll be familiar with the gameplay. You’re tasked with completing an objective in a level, and then extracting from that area. You can tag your enemies similar to Far Cry and decide how best you want to deal with them. I primarily took the stealthy route, though you can be more aggressive. This is obviously less effective. I found the mission design to be a tad repetitive when at the end of seemingly every mission, you need to shoot your way out.
Unlike the more open spaces of Sniper Elite 4, Sniper Elite V2 Remastered still features more constrained levels. This isn’t to say the levels are poorly designed. Rebellion does a good job recreating the war torn Berlin. And, given the destruction, the neoclassicism architecture decays into something more brutalist in nature creating hiding spots for the player.
The player movements and animations show their age. They’re not as smooth as Sniper Elite 4 and animations don’t interpolate as well. This isn’t necessarily a knock, rather an observation which betrays the age of the original game and technology.
I found the AI to be inconsistent at best. Sometimes, I’d strangle an NPC right next to his friend, and his friend wouldn’t react. In other instances, the AI would appear to be randomly OP. For example, I’d be clearly concealed behind cover, yet the AI somehow were able to find a part of my body and shoot me seemingly through my cover. This proved to be a frustration, especially given the fact that there’s no manual save option, and the auto-save checkpoints are too far apart.
On the positive side, the slow mo sniper cam never gets old. You enter this mode by aiming down sights and emptying your lung. This then creates a shrinking reticle you use to aim at your target. Pulling the trigger enters the slow mo kill cam which shows the trajectory of your bullet and, most satisfyingly, the impact of your bullet upon your enemy. It’s gruesome, and it’s so video gamey. I love it.
Overall, Sniper Elite V2 Remastered is a fun if slightly dated affair. Having played Sniper Elite 4, it’s difficult to go back to V2 and not be influenced by hindsight. I can so clearly see how much Rebellion has improved their craft from Sniper Elite V2 to Sniper Elite 4 in virtually every single aspect of game design.
However, this is a review of Sniper Elite V2 Remastered, and not its successor. And there is so much I really wanted to love about it. But small annoyances do add up: inconsistent AI, limited control options, and slightly repetitive mission structure to name a few. If you are looking for a decent game and are willing to put up with such annoyances, then you could do worse for your hard-earned $35.
Compare to: A less-polished version of Sniper Elite 4, a less stealth-focused affair than Splinter Cell Chaos Theory.
Disclosure: Game code was provided for the purposes of this review.