Recent events have brought the simple act of punching Nazi’s in the face back to the forefront of popular culture. It is somewhat good timing that Sniper Elite 4 is coming out now.
This review is focusing on the singleplayer experience of Sniper Elite, I wasn’t able to get online at the same time as anyone else in the pre-release period to experience any competitive multiplayer, or co-operative action. I’m aiming to get some online action in over the next week or two, and will deliver further thoughts on this at a later date.
From a singleplayer perspective, you have a variety of well sized open maps that are your very own playground for eliminating Nazi’s as you wish. Playing on Normal difficulty as I have been, you can adopt a variety of different play styles, while the customisation on offer with the difficulty modes allow you to make the game as hardcore as you wish.
There is an overarching story about how you are helping Italian Partisans and members of the Mafia work to free themselves from Nazi oppression and lay the groundwork for the ultimate Allied invasion. Pre-mission introductory voice overs set the scene, while you also have the chance to talk to different allies to receive your objectives before entering the action. It’s perfunctory enough to set the scene, but your character of Lieutenant Fairburn is well acted and has clearly received an extra bit of TLC in the visual department. There’s no problem with any of this, as it’s all a setup for some cracking levels to explore.
The settings for the missions are great, even if visually the game falls a bit short of matching the best looking games out there. But the team at Rebellion have done a great job of setting the scene and making you feel like you belong in Italy.
Each mission has a distinct look and feel with a nice variety of city, industrial and rural environments meaning no two levels feel too similar. They offer different challenges, some wide open levels have an intermittent noise which can cover the sound of your rifle. These noises, be it planes patrolling overhead, or the blast of a massive railway gun are set up in the pre-mission briefing, helping them feel earned, not cheap additions to help you out. These open levels allow you to sit back and let rip with your rifle with ease and experience the series staple x-ray vision of the destruction your bullet inflicts.
A mission set at night in a dockyard saw me take a run and gun approach to the action. This wouldn’t be possible on higher difficulty levels, the AI becomes that much more intelligent and your weapons behave ever more realistically, but on Normal, I was able to run riot and really enjoy myself. I did fall foul a few times when I found myself cornered and outnumbered, but by making effective use of cover and the environment, I was able to escape. The oil barrels and hanging cargo that litter the maps don’t feel out of place, and offer a quick assist at times to help you get out of trouble.
It was after the dockyard that I finally started to make use of the toys in Sniper Elite. Set in a sleepy village in the shadow of a huge monastery where your target awaits, it is a challenge to get past the various patrols without great patience, or by getting your hands dirty. It was here that playing on Normal was a blessing. By luring guards to alleyways surrounding the village square, I started to make use of the assorted mines that you will pick up around the levels.
Each weapon or tool has a secondary ability, so setting mines to go off after being walked over twice will allow to catch a group of enemies in the blast, but this setting isn’t much good if only single enemies are walking past.
Making judicious use of my tools, and booby trapping bodies, I was able clear the village and move up towards an artillery piece that I had been asked to destroy as a secondary objective. Locating a power generator outside a small house overlooking the artillery, I rigged it to make noise. Taking up position on the second floor, I took out the guards with the generator masking the sound of my rifle. With the artillery taken care of, I proceeded up the hill to an old fort sitting in the shadow of the monastery.
Here, I took another approach entirely, sneaking around and taking out guards with sneaky melee attacks, before proceeding to use the silenced Welrod pistol to take out guards with carefully planned headshots.
Within half a mission, I had used three distinct combat approaches, and that was without taking any long range shots with the rifle. The variety of approaches you can take to missions is what sets this game apart from other shooters.
Once you have completed a mission, a variety of challenges are opened up, offering welcome replayability. Can you take out ten enemies with melee kills while hiding in bushes, or can you race through the level without having a resting heart beat for two minutes? The challenges offer a fun way to revisit missions with a different approach to your original plan.
I’ve spent over two hours on some missions as I plotted my approach and worked my way methodically through groups of foes, collecting as many collectible letters and orders as I could. On another, I blasted my way through in half an hour.
Alongside the campaign, there is a wave base survival mode. Playing by yourself is fine and dandy, but I can see it coming to life when playing with up to three friends. There is also a firing range where you can test your skills against targets with the various weapons on offer.
There are numerous rifles, all with different attributes, though I largely stuck with the classic Springfield. You can collect new rifles or secondary weapons from fallen foes, but to start a mission with a different weapon, you have to buy it with dollars that are your rewards for completing different objectives. All of the weapons on offer have upgrades, be it to damage, recoil or suchlike, unlocked after completing a mini-target such as 50 noise suppressed kills with a rifle, or 25 environmental kills with the Welrod.
It is only once you set foot in Sniper Elite that you can appreciate what the game has to offer. As a singleplayer game, it is full of things to do with a great level of variety to how you approach missions. I’m just looking forward to checking out some of the co-operative and mulitplayer modes.
The Verdict – Headshot
Platforms Available – PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Platform Reviewed – PC
For more on our scoring system, please head here. Review code supplied by PR.