Sniper Elite VR is the latest game from Rebellion, the makers of the Sniper Elite franchise. It’s a first-person shooter that puts the player behind the scope of a sniper rifle, allowing them to experience the game from an entirely new perspective. The game offers a unique twist on the genre by bringing the gameplay to a virtual reality setting, and even allowing players to customize their weapons and play through the game as a VR headset-wearing sniper, rather than a traditional first-person view.
Taking another step into the realm of virtual reality gaming, Sniper Elite VR is the latest effort from Rebellion. This is a squad based tactical shooter game where players are tasked with taking out targets from a sniper’s perspective. As such, the game is a dual-purpose experience, as a player can use it to hone their sniping skills, or they can use it as a means to navigate through the game’s campaign.
Sniper Elite VR – you don’t need an X-ray to have fun (Photo: Rebellion)
The Sniper Elite series is coming to VR, with a brand new campaign and one of the best motion controls on PS4.
When Sony tried to let fans know this week that State of Play would only include games from third-party developers, they made it clear that it wouldn’t include the new God Of War, Horizon Forbidden West, or… The next generation of PlayStation VR. It’s unlikely that many were expecting this, but it’s encouraging to see Sony put VR on the same pedestal as its most anticipated first-person games. Because even with older technology, VR can still create incredible experiences.
Sniper Elite VR isn’t a complicated game, and you can probably already tell most of what you need to know from the title, whether you’re familiar with the previous Sniper Elite games or not. The main details that aren’t so obvious are that the game is set in World War II and is compatible with the PlayStation Aim controller, making it instantly one of the most fun sniper games ever.
The PlayStation Aim controller, which originally came with the first-person game Farpoint, is essentially a modern light gun that uses PlayStation Move technology. The device looks like two plastic tubes bent into the shape of a gun, but when you use it in a Sniper Elite VR game, it feels like you’re holding a real World War II rifle. And that makes a big difference in the sense of accomplishment you get from shooting Nazis in the face.
Like many VR games based on existing franchises, Sniper Elite VR reuses many assets from previous non-VR games. In this case, the main donor is the 2014 game Sniper Elite 3, set in Italy and North Africa. However, it’s not the same game, but in VR, as it has a new campaign with 18 separate missions and a new protagonist who is part of the Italian resistance. You’ll need about six hours to complete the entire story, but even then there are plenty of opportunities to replay missions and try to score more points.
Contrary to what you may think, this is not a simple shooting range where you are stuck in one place and can only shoot. It has almost the same features as the regular Sniper Elite game, with free movement and an emphasis on stealth. If VR is new to you, it’s not worth free-running instead of teleporting because of the risk of nausea, but once you get the hang of it, it’s exactly the same as the other games – except now it’s all in first-person perspective.
If sniper fire is your main defense, you can also use a variety of precision machine guns, pistols and shotguns. Grenades and explosives are also part of your arsenal, and you can alternate them whenever you want, as long as you have ammunition. While some scenes feel more like a shooter on wheels, for the most part you have an impressive amount of freedom in how you fight the Nazi hordes. Stealth is desired but rarely needed, and it’s up to you to use silencers, distract soldiers by throwing bottles at the wall, or jump into the fray with a weapon at your disposal.
The game doesn’t claim to be particularly realistic, but the stress of running out of ammo and the time it takes to manually reload is very real. This is much more obvious if you’re using a PlayStation Move controller (or playing a version of Oculus Quest), because without an Aim controller you have to manually remove a magazine, discard the old one and insert a new one – some weapons even require you to shoot the bolt.
Sniper Elite VR – proof that motion control can work (Photo: Rebellion)
Not only is it super exciting, but it makes it even more so because you have to consider the physical limitations of how quickly you can transition to another role. Unfortunately, this aspect is lost when using an Aim controller that has no idea where your hands are. While we felt like you’re more absorbed in the game when you’re holding a real gun, it’s a shame that the two main functions can’t be implemented on one controller.
In addition to the intrinsic fun of shooting Nazis, your actions are rewarded in two ways, the first being the X-ray destruction effect that is characteristic of the main games. Honestly, you get bored pretty quickly in VR by following the projectile to its target. It’s clever the first few times, but it takes too long and ruins the sense of immersion. However, with a little common sense, you can disable this in the options or change the way it works so that it’s no longer a problem at all.
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It’s much more fun to just get a high score, as the game offers a wide range of criteria to judge your performance, including accuracy, completion time, total kills and headshots. With online leaderboards and in-game achievements, the replay value is very appealing, especially as your skills and strategies improve as you progress through the narrative campaign.
Sniper Elite VR does exactly what it says on the cover, and while the game would have a hard time justifying itself if it weren’t a VR game (in which case you’d be better off picking up Sniper Elite 4), the combination of software, headset and motion controls works very well. The end result is one of the best VR experiences on the PlayStation 4, and a tantalizing hint that it could be even better on the PlayStation 5.
Sniper Elite VR – Summary
In a nutshell: An excellent VR experience that is more than just a sniper simulator, with great replayable missions and an excellent combination of VR and motion controls.
For : A long, new narrative campaign and compelling incentives to revisit missions. Good use of the PlayStation Aim controller and motion controlled reloading.
Disadvantages: Neither control option is ideal: The PlayStation Aim controller loses most of its motion control functions and the PlayStation Move makes movements awkward.
Formats : PlayStation VR (review), PC and Oculus Quest
price : 24.99 £
Developer: Rebellion, Just Add Water and Coatsink
Release date: 8. July 2021
Age Group: 16
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