We'll keep this relatively brief because there's not a huge amount you can say about a remaster of a seven-year-old game that hasn't already been said before, at least not without casting some sort of judgement, which we'll do properly next month when Rebellion's remastered WW2 shooter hits PC (where you'll be able to upgrade your original copy for $9.99/£6.99/€9,99), PS4, Switch, and Xbox One.
While we wait for that, we played a section of the game at Rezzed last month in London, and then this week we were sent access to the PC version and we were able to take a longer look from the comfort of our office. Having gazed down the scope at Sniper Elite V2 Remastered not once but twice, we have to say that we're looking forward to sitting down and playing through the rest of the campaign when it comes time to review the thing on May 14.
Our first encounter with Rebellion's sniper series was actually the first iteration of V2. Despite the grizzly Xray kill-cam that seems to revel in death and destruction with a touch too much glee, we have to admit that we're quite fond of the studio's third-person stealth-shooter series. The blend of action, sneaking, sniping, and hammy storytelling has carved itself a place in our cold heart, which may be why we were so keen to revisit the game despite the close proximity of its impending re-launch.
Rebellion is actually beavering away at four different Sniper Elite products right now. This is one of them, and there's also Sniper Elite 3 Ultimate Edition, which is heading to Nintendo Switch. Throw in a VR-specific game as well as the next main entry in the series, and you've got lots of sniping to look forward to. So, with all that in the pipeline, why remaster this particular game? Well, V2 was an enhancement of the very first game in the series, so there's no need to go back and rework the original. Because V2 was a reboot of sorts, that means that Sniper Elite V2 Remastered represents an opportunity to bring the revised opener and indeed the whole main trilogy (if you will) to the current console generation. Given how Sony and Microsoft are both targetting backwards compatibility, that should also mean future generations will be able to access this series one way or another.
Since the original V2, we've seen plenty of improvements and revisions to the formula appear in subsequent adventures in North Africa and Italy. Taking advantage of improved hardware, Rebellion is set to deliver 4K and HDR on supporting platforms, as well as a number of other improvements. We've seen evidence of that work in the PC build that we tested, which looks like a marked improvement over the initial iteration of the game. It does still look a little angular, with the kind of edges that you simply can't hide if you're porting a game of a certain age, but it's also clear that a ton of work has gone into improving the textures and adding in detail, and that only serves to make the experience more immersive.
We didn't play enough to get a sense of whether there had been any major revisions to the AI, but with updated environments, weapons, and characters, V2 Remastered certainly looks the part and is much closer to its successors. Naturally, the kill-cam shots are more punishing than ever thanks to the added detail. That said, while the series has never looked shabby, it's also fair to say that its main draw has never been the visuals. Sniper Elite has built up a loyal following because of the stealth-driven gameplay it offers, with long-range gunplay supported by detailed bullet physics, and that side of the game seems just as good in this new iteration.
It took us no time at all to start lining up our shots and start having fun with the physics. Sure it's a bit macabre to snipe enemies from range when they're helpless and can't hurt you back, but the setting at least makes some sense of that. Once again the player takes control of Karl Fairburne, a military man with a steady aim and eyes like a hawk. Karl is behind enemy lines, fighting the remnants of the German army inside Berlin as the Allies advance on the city. The plot has you trying to secure America's post-war interests, and you're involved in a plot to make sure that the Russians don't get their red mitts on any of Germany's V2 rocket scientists.
And that's all we're going to say for now before we risk putting the cart before the horse and saying more than we should. And so we'll leave you by noting that Sniper Elite V2 Remastered is shaping up to be a fun return to the game that really put Rebellion's sniper series on the map. There are a few extras (a frame-by-frame photo mode, seven new playable characters, 16-player online modes, and all additional content including a mission where you're tasked with taking down Hitler) that bring it in line with more modern entries, but the core of the experience seems intact and, despite having played through this campaign once before, we're looking forward to doing so again in the very near future.