Sniper Elite v2 hands on

Are you marks-man enough to conquer the demo?

Sniper Elite v2 is the sequel to Rebellion's 2005 well regarded Xbox stealth shooter and with the main game releasing next month, a brand new demo hits Xbox Live tomorrow and PSN on Wednesday. So we thought we'd do a little reconnaissance of our own and see how things are shaping up with the World War 2 marksman.

Sniper Elite v2 sees you reprise your role as Karl Fairburne, the undercover American OSS agent from the original game and V2 is based around Operation Paperclip, the US effort to recruit German rocket scientists for its ballistic missile programme at the end of the war. Your mission in the demo sees you stalking the ruined streets of the town of Schöneberg, charged with blowing up an armoured convoy which has a Nazi rocket scientist called Gunther Kriedal on board.


Your first major choice will be the difficulty level, with Cadet offering a light challenge, Marksman a reasonable one and Sniper Elite a properly tough fight. There's also a custom setting where you can mix 'n match enemy skill levels, ballistic realism and tactical assists and it's important to choose wisely, as SE V2 can be quite an unforgiving and challenging game.

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For this no run 'n gun, spry and pray blaster, but a battle of stealth and skill, forcing you to use cunning and ingenuity to take down your targets while avoiding detection. In reality, snipers don't just pull a trigger and see their bullet go speeding straight through the top of their target's head like most standard FPSs. They have to compensate for bullet drop (gravity) and at extreme ranges, also allow for drift where the wind can literally blow their bullet off course. Snipers may make the kill with a rifle like Fairburne's Springfield, but their binoculars and brains are equally deadly weapons, allowing them to move into position silently, spot their enemy and down their target undetected.

So with all these in mind, we begin the Schöneberg mission in the upper storey of a ruined house, with our first task is to reconnoitre the way ahead. A quick scan of the area and there's movement some fifty metres ahead and switching to binoculars, reveals a German lieutenant leaning in the doorway.

Hitting RB, tags the victim, bringing up a red indicator which allows us to track them on-screen and also reveals data like rank, armament and even state of mind. This lieutenant is on his own and fairly isolated so this is too good an opportunity to miss. Moving into cover, we bring up the sight and get a good look down the crosshairs, zooming in a notch to get a real close up. Because we've been pretty quiet, Fairburne's heart rate is low making his aim ultra steady, then it's RB to zoom in even closer. Holding our breath, we aim slightly high to allow for a small amount of bullet drop and gently squeeze the trigger.


Boom! Suddenly the camera spins around, showing the bullet leaving Fairburne's rifle, tracking its trajectory through the air and then switching to a Mortal Kombat style x-ray kill cam to show the impact. The last thing that goes through the lieutenant's mind is our bullet as its enters though an eye socket, shatters the skull, drills through his brain and passes clean out the other side. It's a gorily impressive little sequence and really gives you a feeling of having made a deadly shot.

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