With Sniper Elite V2 Remastered developers Rebellion are bringing the 2012 title to current gen consoles including the Nintendo Switch. Pick up your rifle and sneak around the most popular shooter setting from the 2000’s, World War 2 of course, now all new and shiny. There is just one question: Will the gameplay and graphics hold up or have we simply grown too fond of the current quality of life standard?
The sniping is awesome… but I’m getting ahead of myself. The game puts you in the boots of Karl Fairburne, an American sniper in the middle of a war-torn Germany during WWII and he couldn’t be any gruffer, gravely voice, noir style internal monologue and all. Narratively, there are a few missions that tie into each other, but the story clearly isn’t one of the focuses in Sniper Elite V2 Remastered as some of the bite-sized levels the game is split up into lack any and all narrative cohesion to one another.
Instead, the game has more of an arcade feel to it, with levels ranging from 20 to 60 minutes, depending on how you approach the missions and how often you will be thrown back to a checkpoint. No worries though when it comes to checkpoints, they’re never unfair. Your objectives include killing VIP targets, getting to vantage points to kill said VIP targets, placing explosives and getting to vantage points to shoot said explosives to detonate them at the right time.
Of course, I’m kidding… to a degree. In combination with the varied level designs, the lack of too many different mission objectives doesn’t feel too bad but temper your expectations in the direction of something like a Hitman Lite. Equipped with an automatic rifle, a silenced pistol and of course the trusty sniper rifle you will be set loose to hunt America’s enemies in wide open spaces, tight corridors, and destroyed cityscapes. You can also employ stealth and items like rocks and booby traps in various situations, sometimes to disappear when found, or not to be found at all. Preparation like scrounging for ammunition and tagging your enemies via your binoculars also helps a lot.
And you will want to make use of all your tools of the trade as even on the marksman (read: normal) difficulty your enemies will kill you in a few shots. The tightly designed and very efficient tutorial level already tries to tell the player that Sniper Elite V2 Remastered isn’t your average run ‘n’ gun shooter despite the Gears of War style use of cover. Instead, you are shown how the basic mechanics work step by step while you’re already knee deep in the war.
At times you actually feel like a sniper on the run and on the prowl in equal parts. Collapsed buildings, the unending gunfire in the distance and overheard conversations of foreign soldiers create a great basis for the atmosphere. Unfortunately, lots of elements pull you right out of the immersion. Invisible walls, wonky enemy AI and way too short and lifeless music loops make sure to keep you grounded in reality. Oh, and doors are absolutely taboo, either they’re open or they’ll stay shut. Welcome back to 2012.
While the Nintendo Switch has been plagued with some lackluster last gen ports or remasters Sniper Elite V2 Remastered isn’t one of them. The performance is perfectly fine with no noticeable stuttering or blurriness and the lighting and shadow effects can actually be pretty at times. When it comes to the art direction you shouldn’t expect the color palette to wander too far outside of the typical WWII greys and browns.
Of course, the most stutter-free performance won’t get you far if the controls themselves are a mess. Luckily, they are absolutely fine and very responsive. You are given a couple of options when it comes to sensitivity but your options of changing the button layouts are non-existent. While this is a pity I felt the given layout to be a great fit for the gameplay and I never felt uncomfortable playing the game, no finger twisting needed here.
Being a shooter on the Nintendo Switch there’s always the question of motion controlled aiming and fortunately, Rebellion has seized the chance, put that option in and I wouldn’t want to miss it. While I would have wished for a wider range of sensitivity I put the motions controls to good use to fine tune my aim, especially through the scope of the sniper rifle(s).
Speaking of sniper rifles, how does the actual sniping feel? Brilliant, I tell you! The title absolutely excels at making that final pull of the trigger exhilarating. Whether it be your target of assassination or just a random soldier yet ignorant of his leaden fate the Max Payne inspired bullet cam that follows your projectiles to your target are pretty spectacular, including X-ray vision in the moment and at the point of impact. Depending on your choice of difficulty wind speeds and distance are factored into your projectiles but to mitigate this you can activate a time slow down while looking through a scope which also shows you the exact point of impact after a while.
Apart from the main campaign, you can prove your skill in a couple of challenge maps as well as a horde mode. There are also some online multiplayer modes and co-op available, none of which I was able to check out during my time with the game as I couldn’t find any matches. The Nintendo Switch also supports local multiplayer, though each player needs a copy of the game and a Switch, no split screen shenanigans here.
So what does this all boil down to? Sniper Elite V2 Remastered certainly has a unique charm about it, blending a few game mechanics into an experience that makes it rise above pure bog-standard shooting action. The sniping feels very satisfying and the developers did their best to structure the game around this very element, but apart from that, there are no notable gameplay twists and what little mission variety there is leaves a bit to be desired. On top of that Rebellion wasn’t really able to inject a lot of creativity into the WWII setting, so don’t get your hopes up, but if you are really starved for shooter games on your Nintendo Switch Sniper Elite V2 Remastered won’t disappoint.