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Sniper Elite VR Review: Sniper Elite At Its Most Immersive

Developer Rebellion has mastered the art of making killing WWII era Nazis as fun as possible with its Sniper Elite series, but the newest entry, Sniper Elite VR, has upped the immersion factor by placing the experience within virtual reality. Rather than feeling like a one-off or gimmicky game, Sniper Elite VR feels like a complete Sniper Elite title just as much as one of the mainline entries. Sniper Elite VR should be fun and exciting for fans of the franchise as long as they are able to look past a few rough edges.

Sniper Elite VR is set during WWII like the other games in the series, but this time players take control of an Italian Resistance fighter instead of the normal protagonist Karl Fairburne. The goal of this Italian Partisan is to help push out the fascist force occupying his land. Unlike the ridiculous Zombie Army 4, Sniper Elite VR presents more serious subject matter like earlier entries in the franchise.  The game's story is spread over 18 levels which can take anywhere from six to eight hours to complete depending on difficulty and level of skill.

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As a Sniper Elite game, it's obvious that most of the time with the game is inevitably spent handling sniper rifles. Rebellion did an excellent job transferring the sniping mechanics of the standard games to VR. Both of the player's hands in the game can be moved independently in order to operate their weapons. One hand holds the stock of a rifle while the other pulls the trigger after lining up a shot. Rifles must also be reloaded manually by pulling the bolt back and inserting a new round before being able to fire again. This makes Sniper Elite VR one of the only WWII shooters to embrace how difficult and time consuming operating these weapons was.

One of the more interesting aspects of Sniper Elite VR is that the player uses their own body as their inventory. This means that when they want to switch weapons, grab more ammo, or use grenades they have to look down and grab the items off of their person. The larger primary weapons are strapped to the back, which means that the controller has to be moved behind the head to switch them out. Pistols however can be held in holsters underneath either armpit or on the hips, and all four slots can hold a pistol simultaneously. It is exciting to toss the sniper rifle out of the way upon getting noticed by an enemy and grab two pistols from each hip to gun down the approaching assailants.

There are a few issues with Sniper Elite VR that can make it frustrating at times, however. Despite having several stealth-based missions, there are practically no stealth mechanics present in the game. The indicators showing if enemies can see the player are very inconsistent, and there is only one pistol that comes with a silencer on it. Every stealth encounter will wind up turning into a guns blazing firefight, which makes sniping difficult. Those who are playing on PSVR will notice that the image resolution quality is much worse than on PC. This is expected, but can be problematic when trying to snipe enemies from further distances or in darker areas of the map. There were times where telling the difference between an enemy head or the background was nearly impossible.

One thing that Sniper Elite VR does well to counteract these potential issues is offer a wide array of comfort and accessibility options. The game can be played using the DualShock 4 controller, the PS Move controllers, or even the PSVR Aim controller, with each one having their own unique control schemes. There is also the option to select between several movement types, decide which hand/eye will be dominant, and even select the frequency of the kill cam mechanic.

Sniper Elite VR may not be as polished as titles like The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners, but despite this, VR may be Sniper Elite's ideal eventual home. Concepts and mechanics that may have felt overdone in a standard console shooter are reinvigorated by the VR format. Sniper Elite VR has some rough spots, but it's easy to look past them when the end result is as fun and immersive as it is. This a must-play for fans of Sniper Elite and VR enthusiasts alike.

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Sniper Elite VR can be played on PlayStation VR, Steam VR, and Oculus. A PlayStation 4 code was provided for the purposes of this review.

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