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Sniper Elite V2 Review

 
 
 

Tired of the traditional first person shooters where the bullets fly and it doesn’t really matter where they land?  Time to open BOTH your eyes, keep a steady hand on the trigger, and get ready for Sniper Elite V2.  If you find your heart steadies too easily as you are beading your target, put on the 3D glasses, because we will be testing Sniper Elite V2 in stereoscopic 3D as well!
 
 
 
Out of all the video game genres, 1940’s World War II is my favorite.  I like the style and simplicity of it all, and the concept of who is good and who is evil has few grey areas.  The weapons are equally uncomplicated.  Modern heads-up displays with flashing lights, heat sensors, and fire & forget weaponry are replaced with raw nerve, critical thinking, and fast  reflexes to separate life and death.  There was also a cold practicality to the whole thing.  Tanks and planes were seemingly mass produced low-tech killing machines that just worked.
 

Sniper Elite V2  takes this comparatively simple technological period and forms up into one of the most nerve wrecking games I have ever played.  You are Karl Fairburne, an OSS officer dropped in 1945 Berlin to assassinate the scientists involved in the development of the V2 Rocket, Nazi Germany’s dream weapon of mass destruction.  The tools of your trade include a powerful sniper rifle that gets upgraded through the game, a machine gun, a silenced pistol, trip wire mines, landmines, sticks of dynamite, and lots of rocks.
 
Using the sniper rifle isn’t too difficult to grasp, though you will have to consider things like trajectory and gravity depending on your level of play.  For the best aim, it’s important to keep yourself calm and let your lungs fill with air.  Once you are in this relaxed state, time will slow down, your scope will zoom in closer, and you can focus your shots with deadly accuracy.  When you are in this state, try and get as many targets in a row as possible, because it will take time to refill your lungs and have this advantage again.
 

When bullet meets Nazi bone and brain, it’s a grossly cool lesson in human anatomy.  In (literal) bullet time, you watch the trajectory as the projectile enters your victim’s skull, chest, stomach, and…er…groin…and exits out the other side.  I’m pretty sure that these aren’t prerecorded elements because they are uniquely rendered according to how your bullets are going to and through your target.  My favorite is when you hit Nazis wearing a helmet, and you hear a metallic “bing”, crunch, and “bing” when the bullet gets through the other side of the skull.  Macabre?  Perhaps…but they’re Nazis, so it’s all good fun.
 
Would you believe that your sniper could take out an entire truck or a tank?  I doubt this is doable in real life, but in Sniper Elite V2, you can shoot the gas caps on tanks and vehicles and literally blow them up.  If life were like that!


The problem with being a sniper is your gun makes a loud bang, and as soon as the Nazis hear you, they will be coming.  The first thing you can do is muffle your gun shots with the environment.  Sporadic noises like church bells, artillery strikes, and active machinery are all forms of audio camouflage you can use to hide your deadly strikes.
 
When you do find that spot to hunker down and take out your fascist victims, you don’t want a Nazi to sneak up behind you, so you need to lay down traps.  Or maybe there are so many of them, you need to thin out the herd.  Trip mines can be placed just about anywhere, and will kill any Nazi that walks over them.  Landmines are great for hiding under corpses, and you can move the bodies around to draw their mourning friends where you need them.  Dynamite is good for making a big bang even bigger, and if you need to get some fresh meat out into the open, you can throw rocks to draw them out.
 
I can’t say enough about how stressful this game really is.  You have to be patient, and while you may seem to be armed to the teeth, it really doesn’t take much to get killed off.  It’s very unnerving when you are sneaking through a Nazi fortress, and you hear a phone ring.  Is someone going to get it?  Will it give your position away?  Is there someone still alive who can pick up the phone?  I’ve never played a game that made me this nervous to turn a corner until now!


I would have liked to see more variety in the types of foes you face.  While you fight against Nazi Germany and Stalin Russia, the enemies and enemy abilities aren’t very diversified.  Even though it would have gone against the spirit of Sniper Elite to have unrealistic bosses, I’m sure something could have been done to break up the fixed nature of the game.  For example, it would have been cool if you had responsibilities or activities between sniper missions like having to travel from one location to the next, or some side missions that help you get better stuff.  It would have been super cool if you had to disguise yourself and walk and talk amongst the enemy to get things, etc.  Lots of creative things could have been done, but weren’t.  While this doesn’t take away from the game, it would be good to see some of these opportunities taken advantage of in future renditions.
 
All that being said, how is Sniper Elite V2 in stereoscopic 3D?  Time to find out!
 
 
 
System Specs:

AMD 1090T 3.2Ghz
Patriot DDR3 1333Ghz RAM
Windows 7 64 Bit
Samsung S23A750D 23" Monitor
Catalyst 12.7 Beta
 
Unlike its competitors and partners that are mainly based on middleware or stereoscopic 3D drivers, the AMD solution is 100% dependent on a left/right standard for AMD GPUs called HD3D.  It requires an AMD GPU and DisplayPort 1.1+ / HDMI 1.4 compliant 3D monitor to work.  I apologize in advance for not being able to share 3D images from the game based on the AMD native HD3D solution – the software isn’t available to do this just yet.


In the case of Sniper Elite V2, Rebellion custom programmed the game to support the HD3D standard directly, and features stereoscopic 3D options from within the game itself.  Even though there is only one stereoscopic 3D setting that controls 3D intensity, the game takes advantage of out of screen effects.  It’s a third person game, so as you walk, objects behind your character will often pierce the screen.
 
The available 3D flexibility for Sniper Elite V2 should meet the needs of most gamers, though it’s always good practice to have separate convergence control so gamers can get the exact experience they are looking for.


There are two bugs with the game.  First, there is a nearly transparent clipping error that surrounds objects in stereoscopic 3D mode.  It’s very easy to mistake this for ghosting, but it isn’t.  This bug appears throughout the game and on all levels.  The second error only happens after you die.  A black shadow is supposed to swarm over the screen, but it only appears in one eye instead of both in 3D mode.  This is a very minor problem, but it should definitely get fixed.
 
Despite these minor gaffes, Sniper Elite V2 is very stereoscopic 3D gaming worthy.  The environments are full of well defined edges, the zipping bullet paths are really cool in 3D, and the immersive nature that 3D adds really takes the game up a few notches.  Even though a 3D patch would improve this game further, it comes highly recommended for AMD gamers.

EDIT: I learned after this review was written that this game is 2D+Depth, and is NOT a true stereoscopic 3D rendering.  This explains the anomalies I was seeing on the screen and the lack of convergence control.  As shown above, I gave too strong a recommendation for AMD's outcome because the alternatives were far, far worse, GameGrade3D was used to test when it shouldn't have for this rendering technique, and their results seemed to stand out.  More than that, since I couldn't record screen images of the game, I did not have the opportunity to properly analyze the visual quality.

2D+Depth technologies do not qualify in the GameGrade3D ranking system because their visual expectations and anomalies are not the same as true stereoscopic 3D renderings made from left and right camera views.  For this reason, we had to remove AMD's score from the GG3D database.  This is a blessing in disguise, however, and the silver lining is outlined below.
 
 
 
System specs:
 
Maingear X-Cube
Intel Core I7 Processor 2.66GHZ
6GB RAM
GTX 580, GTX 275 (PhysX)
Windows 7 64 Bit
NVIDIA 304.79 Beta Stereo Driver
ASUS VG278 27" 3D Display
 
Similar to the way that other driver developers have had to develop compatibility for Nvidia branded and likely pre-optimized 3D Vision games, the shoe is on the other foot with AMD’s influenced Sniper Elite V2, and Nvidia is now left to their own devices to innovate and support a new title.

According to Nvidia, they reached out to the developer, but they weren’t very helpful.  When I underscored that all driver developers have at least seven days to develop and improve their results before testing and review, they indicated they have no intention of fixing the profile further.
 
During testing, when I upgraded my 3D Vision drivers to the latest version, Sniper Elite V2 went from being a game that was titled and recognized by the drivers (though “not rated”), to invisible and untitled according to the 3D Vision games list.
 
The visual bugs and problems with Sniper Elite V2 on Nvidia’s 3D Vision drivers are numerous.  The skyline is reversed, the shadows are at the wrong depth, and light auras are in the wrong places.  I recommend turning the shadows to LOW and Compute Shaders off, but you still aren’t going to get a satisfactory result.  You will need to use Nvidia’s 3D cross-hair with the game, but it works well and could actually be a gaming advantage.

I would have liked to see more effort on Nvidia’s part to get things working before the game review was complete.  Even with these flaws, you can clearly see the potential with all the remaining 3D flexibility that can be achieved with the Nvidia drivers and full convergence controls, and I really think Nvidia 3D Vision gamers would like to see a functioning profile for this title.
 
 
 
System Specs:

AMD 1090T 3.2Ghz
Patriot DDR3 1333Ghz RAM
Windows 7 64 Bit
Samsung S23A750D 23" Monitor
Catalyst 12.7 Beta
DDD TriDef 3.5.32 Beta 1 (unreleased)
 
While DDD’s results are very problematic, they are making a very concerted effort to get the best results possible.  Since informing them of the review, I have received two unreleased beta drivers, and I have confidence that there will be further improvements still.


Unfortunately, both profile results are equally bad – just bad in different ways.  In one instance, the shadows have reversed polarity, are often in mono, and there are all kinds of lighting clipping errors.  In the other instance, they turned off the shadows, but ended up inadvertently scraping away all the ambiance and lighting effects in several key levels.  I would have just submitted an uncertified GameGrade3D result, but given that these are unreleased betas and that each profile release is inconsistent from the last, I will give DDD an “A for effort” and state that their Sniper Elite V2 compatibility is “Not Applicable”...yet.  It’s just not ready to be reviewed, and I can’t recommend that they announce support for this game in its existing state.
 
However, I’m very confident they will continue to update their results to get something workable, though this game clearly requires special measures beyond a game profile.
 
If you do want to get something basic going, it’s best to turn shadows to LOW and reduce AA to medium for reasonable performance.  The dominant eye system works well with Sniper Elite V2, though you can also use DDD’s crosshair too.

EDIT: As you can see, this entire article has been refreshed with images created by DDD's TriDef Ignition 3.6.1 Beta 1 drivers.  After I learned that I erred in how Sniper Elite V2 was reviewed, I set down a challenge for DDD to get this game working as it should.  I honestly didn't like the idea of stripping a positive score from the developer because of my mistake, so I wanted an alternative.  While it took some time, DDD's results are nothing less than stellar, and far surpasses what the game delivers natively.

All the shadows are rendered properly, the doubled low contrast effects have all been fixed, the game has all the require stereoscopic 3D flexibility, and none of the game's ambiance has been scraped away.  I think this is a major boon for gamers because it demonstrates that driver developers do have the power to innovate where needed, and aren't dependent on private game developer relationships to deliver positive results.
 
 
 
Sniper Elite V2 is a great stereoscopic 3D game for AMD GPU owners with the right 3D display equipment.  Even though the 3D adjustment options are limited, the default 3D convergence settings should satisfy most gamers.  It’s easily one of the most stressful games I have played to date, and strays away from the too easy to spray and slay shooters that have saturated the market.

EDIT: Sniper Elite V2 is NOW a great stereoscopic 3D game for AMD and Nvidia GPU owners with the right display equipment thanks to a major upgrade to the DDD TriDef Ignition drivers.  It was a grievous mistake on my part to give Sniper Elite V2's 2D+Depth rendering such high marks prior to seeing what DDD could deliver with true stereoscopic 3D capabilities.  I am certain that gamers will be very happy with these results, and I apologize for not spotting my error sooner.


After seeing what DDD could deliver with this game, I'm hoping that Nvidia will take a second look at developing a new profile for Sniper Elite V2.  Until then, the best bet for Nvidia 3D Vision users is to wait for an improvement via the Helix Mod or seeing if DDD's unofficial 3D Vision compatibility still works.  We’ll have to wait and see.
 
Game Play
8.5/10

Sound
7.5/10

Presentation
9/10

Immersive Nature
8/10

How Memorable Is This Game
8.5/10

Stereoscopic Effectiveness AMD HD3D
6/10 (Subjective Score, 2D+Depth is NOT GameGrade3D Compatible)
 
 
AMD HD3D Overall Rating
7.9/10

NVIDIA Overall Rating
7.16/10 (not applicable in stereoscopic 3D based on GameGrade3D scoring)
 
DDD Overall Rating
8.5/10