It’s fascinating to think how far the Sniper Elite games have come in a relatively short space of time. Since Sniper Elite V2’s release in 2012, Sniper Elite 3 then bridged the generations, but brought in more ambitious and open level design and somewhat improved AI, while Sniper Elite 4 more fully embraced sandbox level design and got to push the boat out visually on the current generation. Stepping back with Sniper Elite V2 Remastered, which reunites the series on a single generation of console, how does it hold up and compare?
To put it simply, Sniper Elite V2 feels older than it actually is. I mean, it wasn’t at the bleeding edge graphically for 2012, but it struck a chord and sold well thanks to its enjoyable sniping and campy WW2 setting. That said, even at the time, the rest of the gunplay felt flat and nowhere near as fluid as its peers, while the stealth play was relatively utilitarian and lacking in nuance. None of that has really changed for the remaster.
Still, it’s a fun game, even once the X-ray kill cam’s novelty has worn thin. You can turn this feature down or off entirely, but there’s something gruesomely satisfying to seeing your more extraordinary shots going through multiple soldiers – my best this time around was managing to line up three enemies, getting two kills and wounding the third with the ricochet.
Thankfully, though it’s set in Berlin in the final days of WW2, you’re not constantly trudging through the bombed-out streets, and this does give the game a decent bit of variety. The sunny days in the city are traded in for moody nights out in the hills and mountains, as you infiltrate silos and hidden bases to dismantle what’s left of the Nazi war machine and their final dastardly plans.
The jump from PS3 or 360 to PS4 Pro or Xbox One X is simply vast. It’s now in 4K (on Pro and X you can prioritise resolution or performance, choosing between 2160p30 and 1080p60), it’s been retrofitted with HDR, new lighting, there’s more detailed textures and particle effects, and a bunch of other features like a photo mode where you can scrub forward through kill cams to find the exact frame that you want. That time I had Karl and a German sniper shot each other at exactly the same time would have been a real keeper, had I thought to open the pause menu and trigger the photo mode in time.
The thing for me is that I own the original on PC, and here the need to step up to V2 remastered is less clear. While my Intel Core i5 3570K might be on the cusp for modern games, it was a top draw CPU when Sniper Elite V2 first released, and with a modern mid-high end GPU like a Vega 56 in the mix, I can quite easily turn the graphics settings up to full and the resolution to 2160p. This hardware combo smashes it with 60fps performance, and honestly, the only differences I really noticed compared to Remastered on PS4 Pro are with the higher quality character models and some more refined, less jagged environmental shadowing. Sniper Elite V2 already had some strong light and shadow effects, even without the changes made in the remaster.
Sure, there are other improvements, like bundling in all of the DLC levels and bumping the player count up in multiplayer (something that I’ve not been able to test prior to release), but from the original game on PC to the remaster on PS4 Pro, I was hard-pressed to spot the differences.
Though it’s nice to have on current consoles, Sniper Elite V2 Remastered doesn’t feel like an essential buy for all but the most die-hard of Sniper Elite fans. It’s a fun sniping romp that’s nice to have reunited with its sequels on current gen consoles, where there is a huge step up compared to the last generation versions, but it’s also a reminder of how far the series has come in the meantime and simply makes me want to look to the future of Sniper Elite instead of wanting to step back to its past.