Turns out there's only so many times you can watch a man's skull get cracked open by a sniper bullet in lavish slow-motion. Only so many times you'll tolerate Sniper Elite V2's glorification of pinpoint murder. Only so many times you can observe the grisly effects of your aiming and clicking before you tire of arterial spray and gobs of brain matter. In one sitting of Sniper Elite V2, that limit is about 20.
The first shot is mesmerising. An accurate, long-range round fired from one of Sniper Elite V2's period-accurate rifles by American behind-enemy-lines Karl Fairburne, causes Sniper Elite V2 to whisk the camera away from the game's standard third-person view to follow the bullet's trajectory. The camera pans as the round spirals through the air, near-silent until it thunks into skin, through bone and into brain. Your bullet enters your target's face pristine, and comes out mangled, tumbling away as dented and ruined as the wrecked skull it leaves behind. Watching your first victim die in X-ray vision is fun.
With your fifth shot, you start to get a feel for your rifle. Sniper Elite V2 is set at the end of World War 2, but a World War 2 on a parallel Earth where gravity is six times the norm. Bullets drop almost as soon as they leave your gun, meaning shots over distance - the standard for a game about sniping - need to be aimed over the target. On harder difficulties, bullet drop is more significant; on lower, it's less of a factor. With a lungful of air and a low heart rate, Karl can slow time for a moment, also giving you a helpful red indicator of where your bullet will fall. Get it right first time and you're treated to another mini-scene of carnage, your victim's eye bursting and nose shattering as the bullet enters his head.
Tenth shot, and you've alerted half the level to your presence. Sniper Elite V2 tries to reward sneakery, and hyper-careful players can pick off targets one by one until whole sections of the multi-stage maps are cleared. Most levels have environmental effects to cover the bang of a rifle discharge - bells, bombs, and rocket launches are signified by a sound indicator in the top right of the screen - and the standard loadout includes a silenced Welrod pistol for close range kills. But the sheer number of guards makes spotting all of your potential targets hugely difficult. Executing each one individually requires hours of planning: pointless when it's simpler to make a loud noise, then hide behind a box to plug away at alert enemies.