Last May, 505 Games and Rebellion released Sniper Elite V2 for popular platforms. Now, the game is available on Wii U, but if you're expecting the most tweaked, complete version of the game, you'll be quite disappointed.
Note -- my original review of Sniper Elite V2 for the PS3 can be found here.
Re-releasing a game for a new platform outside of a tablet or a mobile should be an opportunity to make it the best version of your game yet. It ought to make fans and owners of the original release envious, and newcomers interested perhaps to a degree they weren't before. Generally, that's the way it's done; we've all seen "Ultimate" and "Legendary" and "Game of the Year" Editions before, and as long as they have enough content and aren't released too close to the original I really like those releases.
On the other hand you have rare, curious releases like Sniper Elite V2 (SEV2) for the Wii U. Not only was the single player gameplay exactly the same as the PS3 version I played over a year ago, flaws still intact, but co-op mode is gone and no DLC is available. The only advantages, if you can even call them that, that the Wii U version has is Gamepad integration which boils down to being able to play the game on your Gamepad so dad can watch baseball on the TV, or acting as a secondary screen which provides a map, quick weapon and inventory access, and a realtime heart rate monitor for your character. The map is a no frills, 2D, top down affair that is somewhat useful but it's not a game-changer. Quick access to inventory and weapons is marginally useful, but I found it just as convenient to use the d-pad to scroll through my items. What I benefited from the most with the Gamepad was the heart rate monitor, which is crucial when playing the game on high and custom difficulty settings.
Revisiting the missions of SEV2 was enjoyable, but I had hoped for a lot of the AI and other flaws to be cleaned up. Instead, the first few missions played out as familiar as they did over a year ago, enemies in exactly the same areas and reacting the very same way. There's still plenty of clipping issues and other miscellaneous quirkiness, none of it game-breaking, but much of it discouraging and sobering. The same could be said for the 2005 release which, again, was such a great idea but it just wasn't polished. Looking back at my PS3 review, I was probably too generous in the final evaluation, or at least playing this Wii U version made me wonder if I didn't score it about a half of a point too high. Makes little difference now (or even then perhaps), but what is really irksome is the fact that the Wii U version, with about a year's time since the original release, still has all of the glitches and flaws intact. Rebellion is a long established company that should have taken this opportunity to put out the best, most complete version of this game. Maybe they had that intention but poor Wii U sales made them shift focus completely to Sniper Elite 3? Who knows.
Besides the gameplay being identical, the removal of co-op play is both baffling and reason enough to skip this purchase entirely. While playing lone wolf is certainly fun, teaming up with a buddy makes this game far more special. I have fond memories of playing through the original Sniper Elite on Xbox with a friend. We played on the max difficulty and it took us dozens of hours over the course of a few months to get it done. It was frustrating at times but talk about some great co-op memories. Calling shots, trying to outdo each other's best kills, and saving one another -- it's what co-op gaming is all about. I have yet to play the SEV2 campaign co-op to completion in co-op primarily due to scheduling, but the fact that it's not even an option in the Wii U version is a flat out shame.
The same goes for the lack of, and inability to even acquire, the DLC packs which are significant. These mission packs include "Assassinate the Führer," "The Neudorf Outpost Pack," "The Landwehr Canal Pack," and "St. Pierre," almost all of which include new weapons, too. Plus, PC, PS3, and X360 versions also received separate multiplayer modes via DLC, and the standalone "Nazi Zombie Army" game could have very well been included in this Wii U version too, but it's not. It's an agregious oversight.
Critical disappointments aside, SEV2 is still a fun and engaging game as I first mentioned in the review last May. There literally aren't many games like this, and long range kills on any difficulty (but especially high difficulties) are still a thrill, even if you've see the impressive x-ray kill animations a hundred times. It's just too bad Rebellion couldn't make the whole experience more polished, especially with so much extra time for the Wii U version.
To the summary...