The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

Sniper Elite V2 Reflection and Review

“But real life doesn’t travel in a perfect straight line; it doesn’t necessarily have that ‘all lived happily ever after’ bit. You have to work on where you’re going.” ― Chris Kyle

In the final days of World War Two, American OSS officer Lieutenant Karl Fairburne is inserted into Berlin with the intent of hunting down individuals involved with Nazi Germany’s V2 programme. Fighting his way through the ruins of Berlin and V2 installation against the remaining Nazi soldiers and advancing Soviet forces, Fairburne learns that one Wolff intends to launch one final V2, tipped with the nerve agent Tabun (unrelated to the Japanese phrase “たぶん”, or “maybe”) at London in one final act of vengeance. He is able to take out the V2 and returns to Brandenburg Gate, successfully placing a shot that finishes Wolff for good. Sniper Elite V2 is a third-person tactical shooter, although the game’s emphasis on stealth typically fails the moment players shoot out their first enemy; enemies have an uncanny ability to track the player, and combat sections of the game mean taking cover and moving around to avoid being detected while taking out enemy units. This dynamic creates for tense, if somewhat predictable gameplay. Sniper Elite V2 rewards precision shooting, providing point bonuses to particularly tricky or distant shots, although other tools, such as trip mines and suppressed weapons, give additional options for players. In keeping with the notion that this is a sniping game, Sniper Elite V2 dissuades close-quarters combat: Fairburne will be felled in only a handful of shots from submachine gun fire and the reward for scoring a kill with submachine guns is low. However, the fact that submachine guns and pistols are available as close-quarters weapons allows players a last-resort means of survival should they find themselves engaged by soldiers at close range.

While the plot line in Sniper Elite V2 is simple enough (move through the ruins of Berlin and kill bad guys to stop them from wasting London), the main enjoyment in the game stems from knowing that everything boils down to a single thing: it’s just Fairburne and his rifle. Unlike other shooters, there is no radio contact with headquarters to provide further instructions whenever one objective is finished. No one will update the mission and instruct Fairburne where to go; in-game, he simply knows what needs to be done next. There are no squad mates or friendlies to assist with objectives, either. There is only a single point in the game where Fairburne must defend Schwaiger from waves of Red Army soldiers, and beyond this, Fairburne carries out each of his assignments alone. His monologues prefacing each chapter gives an idea as to what he’s up to, but it becomes clear that beyond the objective of tracking down central figures in the Nazi V2 programme, Fairburne must decide what his next move on his own. This set up means that Sniper Elite V2 is a very lonely game, but the sort of self-reliance and ingenuity also reinforces the notion that one man in the right place, at the right time, can indeed make all the difference in the world.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Being able to destroy tanks with a single well-placed shot probably won’t sit so well with anyone who’s got any sort of background with WWII-era armour, and Girls und Panzer fans favouring Black Forest’s doctrine will probably take double insult at the fact that one .30-06 Springfield round could wreck Maho’s preferred tank, thereby rendering the Nishizumi school utterly worthless.

  • However, Sniper Elite V2 is just a game, and so, it is perfectly acceptable that some creative liberties were taken for gameplay purposes. After beating the first mission and becoming accustomed to the controls in Sniper Elite V2, it was time to pay a visit to the Mittelwerk facility. This remote facility was the site of V1 and V2 production after RAF bombers targetted the Peenemünde Army Research Center, where V2 rocket research had occurred previously.

  • V2s undergoing assembly can be seen in the cavernous tunnels at Mittelwerk. While at Mittelwerk, Fairburne is tasked with locating Dr. Schwaiger, as well as sabotaging the facility; historically, the Mittelwerk facility was evacuated before the Allies began bombing it. So, the deviation from history should be enough to show that this game is a work of fiction and is not meant to be totally realistic, thereby placating a certain onee-sama who might claim that the game is desecrating their favourite German heavy tanks.

  • One of the most rewarding shots to pull off is killing two enemies with a single bullet: two soldiers lined up with one another will allow such a shot to be made, as the bullet exiting the first enemy will still have enough velocity to punch through a second. I’ve heard that a three-for-one is also possible. As per the usual formatting, this post will consist of the usual twenty screenshots; as with most posts, I spent a a bit of time whittling down the screenshots from 265 to twenty.

  • One feature in Sniper Elite V2 is the ability to have Fairburne hold his breath to stablise the rifle and also slow down the apparent time. Lower difficulties further provide a red indicator for predicting bullet drop, but on the highest difficulty, this indicator is not rendered; players must therefore use the mil-dots to determine how far away their target is and compensate for bullet drop accordingly.

  • While Sniper Elite V2 bills itself as a stealth game, traditional elements associated with stealth (sneaking around and being silent) do not particularly work well; the moment Fairburne fires, enemies are alerted to his position and will return fire in turn. The trick is to use cornering techniques and cover to keep the AI busy, since the game works by having the enemies fire on Fairburne’s last known position.

  • Here, I wield the Mosin Nagant, a five-round bolt-action rifle taken from the Red Army. In Sniper Elite V2, it’s the second sniper rifle found; like the Springfield M1903, it has a low firing rate. While the Springfield has a higher bullet velocity, its optics do not offer too much zoom compared to the Mosin Nagant, making the latter generally more useful. In real life, the Mosin Nagant is known for its high reliability and is one of the most widely-produced rifles in existence, having some 37 million units produced since it was introduced in 1891.

  • The Gewehr 43 is a German semi-automatic rifle with a seven round magazine. While it has the lowest bullet velocity of any of the rifles, its high fire rate, larger magazine size and superior optics allow it to be effective at all ranges. It is the last rifle to be found in the base game and remains with the player for the final few missions.

  • Here, I sneak up on the Tiergarten Flak Tower with the intent of infiltrating it and taking out a high-value target. Having watched Nazi Mega Weapons‘ “Fortress Berlin”, my curiosity was piqued and I decided to look up Flak Towers (especially images of their interiors). While there were some intriguing photographs, the search engines also returned Sniper Elite V2, which led me to wonder what the game was like. It turns out that the interiors are quite faithful, being solid concrete that presumably inspired the architecture seen in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

  • That Fairburne is searching for documents leading him to the V2 sites or other personnel always felt like finding a needle in a haystack, akin to looking for any signs that something such as Otafest occurred at a given venue. This was quite melancholic because probability suggests that exiting forces would likely take most of their possessions with them or else destroy anything of value, making it unlikely that one could actually find anything useful.

  • As the sun sets to this mission, Fairburne learns that Tabun is a nerve agent of great potency, interfering with the nervous system and can be lethal in as little as ten minutes if injected (inhaling the agent leads to its accumulation and can cause death within two hours). Tabun was one of the first nerve agents to be discovered; in 1936, German scientist Gerhard Schrader was developing insecticides and found Tabun was lethal to humans. The chemical was put into production, but the difficulties in handling it made it impractical as a mass production weapon.

  • From the Soviet headquarters, Fairburne only learns that the launch location is somewhere outside Berlin, and so, returns to Dr. Wolff’s Berlin office. While the office has already been destroyed, Fairburne finds a ripped notebook and establishes that Wolff is about to escape from an airfield. Enemy snipers are among the more deadly enemies at longer ranges, and on lower difficulty, their scopes glint, allowing them to be located and eliminated quite quickly.

  • Barrage balloons can be seen in the air: these were designed to slow down low-level and dive bombers. I remark that today is Friday, which means that tomorrow, I’ll invariably have to watch the sixth episode of Hai-Furi and put out a post. Unlike last week, this time, I have the Saturday off, and although I will have to step out to supervise a martial arts class, it’s a much shorter excursion; I should have the Hai-Furi post out before tomorrow is over.

  • By nightfall, Fairburne makes his way to the last of the V2 launch facilities through a field of Red Army forces. Caution is necessary here, since there are Soviet soldiers hidden in the rubble throughout the map. Moreover, the mounted machine gun positions will cover the open areas, so its imperative to make extensive use of cover and where necessary, return fire via a single well-placed sniper round.

  • There are collectible pieces of Nazi gold pieces and wine bottles throughout the game. Similar to Wolfenstein: The New Order, the gold does not impact gameplay and merely encourages exploration. While we are on the topic of Wolfenstein: The New Order, I have plans to play through the game a second time to complete the Fergus timeline, although the main challenge will be finding the time to do so.

  • This is because at present, I’m spending most of my waking hours pushing my thesis paper to completion: as of today, all that’s left is to finish the final appendix and then move the first draft into LaTeX. Once that’s done, I’ll spend the upcoming week putting in all of the figures, tables, equations and citations. Hopefully, that will be done by the time the Victoria Day Long Weekend arrives. It’s going to be busy, but I’ll try to take at least a little time off to enjoy things.

  • The food trucks I usually buy lunch from weren’t present, and so, I decided to try something different. Perogy Boyz appeared quite interesting, and ordered the poutine perogies, a delicious perogy dish topped with beef sausage, double-smoked bacon, garlic-herbed gravy and cheese curds. The flavours blew me away, with the smokiness of the bacon and savory sausages complementing the potato and cheeses very nicely. Back in Sniper Elite V2, the last task in this mission after shooting out as many Soviet soldiers as possible is to snipe the fuel cap on the V2 rocket to stop it. This took me a few attempts, and in the end, I nailed the shot after using mines to protect my right flank.

  • The final mission returns Fairburne to Berlin, close to where the game began. However, after eight hours of gameplay, the mechanics are now old-hat, familiar, and as such, navigating my way through the rubble to engage distant enemies is now straightforwards. Sniper Elite V2 was released in 2012, the year that Borderlands 2Trials Evolution and Skull Girls came out. As such, it’s no surprise that the visuals in Sniper Elite V2 are quite good.

  • At the end of the day, Sniper Elite V2 is an entertaining game, and for the price I purchased the game at, it was well worth it just for the single player campaign. I hear that the multiplayer and cooperative game modes are inactive, so it’s not exactly economical to purchase this game at full price at this point in time. That’s pretty much it for this post: I’ll return tomorrow to write about Hai-Furi at the halfway point, and then roll out a talk about Valkyria Chronicles within the week.

  • The Brandenburg Gate is visible here, acting as the destination for the game’s final objective. After ascending it, firing a single, well-placed shot will trigger the final cut-scene and end the game. Fariburne remarks that while this war has ended, he’s now become the first soldier to fight in the Cold War. It’s been some eight months since I bought Sniper Elite V2, and now that I’ve beaten it, I can finally set my sights on Alien Isolation.

From a gameplay perspective, Sniper Elite V2 represents a virtual journey through Berlin and Mittelwerk as the final days of World War Two in the European theatre approach: in providing a reasonably detailed depiction of these locations, Sniper Elite V2 crafts a convincing world where Fairburne can carry out his assignments. Furthermore, the game’s higher difficulties depict the mechanics and frustrations of being a sniper: bullet trajectories are affected by gravity and wind, and the rubble often makes it difficult to spot enemies even when using the binoculars. Thus, when players begin familiarising themselves with the game mechanics, landing distant headshots, multi-kills or ricochet kills becomes incredibly satisfying. Sniper Elite V2‘s built-in kill-cam further reinforces this: players will immediately know when they’ve landed a shot, as the game will wrest perspective from the player and follow the bullet as it travels through the air before punching through the target’s skull or other organs. Further to this, armoured vehicles can be (unrealistically, but hilariously) destroyed by shooting out their fuel caps. Although some might consider the X-ray feature to be a bit gruesome, the mechanic lets players know when their shots have connected in a hugely entertaining way. Sniper Elite V2 is quite an entertaining game; I picked up the game during an eighty-five percent off sale (having paid 4.94 rather than 32.99). It’s probably not worth dropping the full price on the game to explore and fight through Berlin as the Red Army closes in on the beleaguered German capital, but at 4.94, this decision becomes considerably easier: for that, I’ve spent around seven hours immersing myself in some of the locations mentioned in the PBS Special, Nazi Mega Weapons.

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