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What Sniper Elite V2 didn't teach me about firing a rifle

Hands on with Rebellion's sniper sandbox

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There's a cover system, but for the most part it's a stopgap measure rather than an impregnable sanctuary. Blind-siding is a constant risk, thanks to the scale of the environments, bullets are too scarce to risk a war of attrition, and the mid-range guns are so inaccurate as to be useless. If you're brought to bay, it's best to retreat - perhaps dropping a tripwire mine as you leave - and work your way round to a new attack vector. There are interfacial tricks to help you manipulate the AI: enemies can be tagged with the use of binoculars, appearing as red markers when they're out of sight, and a "last known position" ghost helps you predict their movements.

If Rebellion's open-ended action survives comparison with Io Interactive and Ubisoft's efforts, it hasn't yet managed to exceed them. The visuals commit the age-old sin of trying for photorealism without the necessary resources, a no-man's land of muddy texturing and lighting. More significantly, there are moments when everything collapses and you're left with a shooting gallery. At one point, I took out a round dozen guards just by crawling back and forth from the lip of a bisected apartment block, mechanically clearing out the neighbouring roofs, then the road below.

Zoom

Perhaps it's my fault for not experimenting, but players can't be relied on to experiment: we have to be goaded or encouraged, and Rebellion occasionally leaves you too much to your own devices. Most disappointingly, a later level culminates with you defending a church steeple against waves of distant Gerries. If such hackneyed design tactics prevail over the sandbox elements, V2 will struggle to compel. Those killcams should be the game's cinematic carrots, your reward for engineering the perfect arrangement of player, enemies and environment; without an intelligent context, they're no more than a gruesome gimmick.

Sniper Elite V2 hits shelves on 4th May. There's a multiplayer mode too, which we were unable to sample.

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