Sniper Elite franchise feels like it was made specifically for me. I instantly picked Zer0 in Borderlands 2 and if there is ever a skill for stealthy kills in any RPG, I’ll be sure to allocate my points there first. There is something super engaging in playing as an unseen predator, picking enemies off one by one while they’re at the end of their wits trying to find you. After the first game, the improved Sniper Elite 2, incredible Sniper Elite 3 and marvelous Sniper Elite 4, we are now moving forward to the….remaster of the second game? Hm sure, I’m a bit cautious (and interested) so let’s see what’s under the hood.
Once again we step into the shoes of Karl Fairburne, an elite sniper thrown into the heart of war-torn Berlin. It’s almost the end of the war and Nazis are losing on all front. Your mission is to prevent the V2 rocket technology falling into the hands of Red Army, aid any scientist(s) willing to defect to the US and make it out of the crosshairs of two armies. This time, we have all the DLC included in the remastered version and the ability to play as other characters beside Karl in both campaign and multiplayer modes.
If you’ve played the original Sniper Elite 2, then there isn’t much to say or add here. Seriously. When I heard that they were remastering this game, my first thought would be that it will get a fresh coat of paint with the improved stealth, game mechanics and engine from Sniper Elite 3 and more. Sure, we can play as different characters now but for some lazy reason, you will still be shown as Karl in all the cutscenes. There is also a new photo mode to capture and edit your x-ray shots. But besides that, everything else is the same from the original. If anything, I did notice that the AI was a bit more forgiving (if not dumber) compared to the original. They rarely move towards my position and only peek out once in a while from the cover, inviting me to play whack-a-mole with their helmets. for what it’s worth, the gameplay is still as engaging as ever and sniping their brains and guts will never get old. Aside from your trusty sniper rifle, you can also carry a submachine gun of your choice and a pistol. I’ll always recommend the silenced one, because why carry all three loud weapons with you. Another fun way to neutralize enemies is with mine traps, placing dynamite, land mines and sniping off the hand grenades from their belt (a bit tricky to pull off but incredibly satisfying).
Ah, here we are. The saving grace of this remaster. Or is it? To be fair, so changes have been made but it’s more of a game being injected with an incredible amount of botox rather than being improved. We can now play in higher resolutions compared to the original and the textures way sharper…..which also makes some parts of the game unnatural. The war-torn cities now look absurdly clean and washed and it’s n different with you and enemies. The uniforms are spotless, character models now resemble vax figures and I’m pretty sure Karl could now kill someone with his sharp and stiff hairdo. It’s been seven years since the release of the original game and some things that we could find acceptable are not anymore. Notably, the color palette in Sniper Elite V2. It didn’t receive any sort of visual remaster so you’ll be playing most of the levels in 50 Shades of Brown. I did notice some improved lighting, less obnoxious glare from the original and better shadows but that’s it. In general, the game does look better but that’s not much of a when almost everything is painted in monochromatic brown with some other color here and there.
I installed the original Sniper Elite V2 and after going back and forth, I can say that there is noticeable improvement in audio department. The echoing of sniper shots are better (especially in open areas), gun sounds are improved as well as ambiental noise. It’s kinda weird and sad that this part received way more attention than the visuals. Based on sound alone, you can pinpoint where the enemies are coming from towards you, which is something I couldn’t tell in the original. This angle of the game is actually the only one where the game doesn’t show its age and where the remastering makes some difference.
You know, giving a bad grade to a game is never easy. Every release had some effort and passion poured into it, it’s just that the sum of all isn’t enough for a passing grade. But you know what’s far worse? Giving a bad grade to a game that you love. I’m a big fan of Sniper Elite games, but this barely passes for a remaster. It’s a botched plastic surgery. If you never played any of the games from the franchise, this should be your entry. Now, is it worth spending more than 30 euros for some visual touch-ups that most developers would give as a free update? My answer is a firm no. Sniper Elite V2 Remastered tries to scrape the bottom of the barrel of what is considered as a remaster of a product. It’s sad because if this game was remastered in the engine of the games that came after, that alone would be enough to give it some new life. If I’m happy with this, then I will be happy with a different dev adding a couple of more trees or cars in their game and slapping a remaster on that. This is where I draw a line. Paraphrasing the words of a wise Gandalf: “This shall not pass!”
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