Platform: PS4, PC, Xbox One
Tested on: Xbox One
Sniper Elite 4 – Review
He hides in the dark to oversee the battlefield, not to be found by anyone. Remains silent as much as possible to avoid making the enemy aware of his presence. He is a person that strikes fear into the hearts of many Germans, or just shoots it out. His name is Karl Fairburne: covert agent, elite marksman and fulltime Nazi killer. Fans of the Sniper Elite series will be glad to see our hero Karl back into action, and this time he is helping the Allies take over Italy and uncover the secrets of the Axis new überweapon.
The game takes place during World War II in 1943’s Italy. We follow the story of our protagonist who is dropped in the hostile area to help the Italian resistance take back their beloved country from the hands of the fascists. Naturally they would never send a high ranking operative just to do so, the ulterior motive is because the Nazis have created a new super weapon that is doing tremendous damage to the Allied forces. This weapon is a remote controlled rocket that can be used to hit targets with great precision. You will have to track the creator of this wonder weapon and stop this armament dead it its tracks. In the flow of the story we see a good follow-up on events and the main plot slowly but teasingly unfolds. As it starts from just the bare fact about the rockets, it grows with every mission and you will uncover how everything is intertwined.
Sniper Elite 4 is a beautiful game to play and this is thanks to the work put into it. The game is set in the charming and sunny Italy which makes for amazing sightseeing while picking off those Krauts. Follow along the lively rivers to find an ideal dump spot for dead bodies or just throw them off a cliff. With some levels that have serious differences in height will show how realistically the maps are made. While not many environments are destructible, those who do are very detailed: shrapnel is seen flying around, walls crumble very realistic and blood will catch onto walls and plants, so paint the town red. What is a little downer for some nitpickers is that when you destroy a truck (what is a must do for diversion or killing) you will notice that the entire vehicle will disappear, while other vehicles will stay as a burned-out wreckage. Cutscenes are presented in many different ways, from normal animation that turns into a black and white film reel to drawn artwork and pictures, giving us a feeling of authenticity and takes us back to the old days.
In stealth sound is a key factor as it can be helpful but also hurtful. You can overhear soldiers talk and they will react if you are not silent enough. Even some smarter soldiers will refrain from speaking and will use hand gestures instead. The change in reaction also makes that some soldiers do yell panicky and will shoot like a madman while calmer ones will give orders and be more accurate. They can also be so silent that if you do not watch your back they will successfully flank you. The sound of a plane squadron flying over or artillery firing might be deafening, but will work at your advantage since it muffles the sound of your gunshot: more on this in the gameplay section.
Sniper Elite 4 is a third person shooter that mainly focuses on utilizing stealth elements that a sniper needs in his line of work. Before you start with the campaign you can decide if you either want to do this alone in single player or work together with other snipers in a four player co-op mode. If you rather want to go duke it out with other snipers you are free to do so in the online multiplayer mode with seven modes on six maps. In the main story mode every missions starts in some kind of safe zone where you have the ability to speak to a few allies to get a SITREP about the situation, giving you some extra side missions in the progress. To take out your enemy and liberate the streets you will have various tools to your disposal. As a sniper it is a key element not to just blatantly charge the enemy head-on but to be as tactical as possible. You can achieve this by utilizing your surroundings to your advantage, use a wide array of weapons or set traps for patrolling troops.
To be able to perform some stealthy takedowns you will need to abuse the stockpiling of goods and explosives. Luckily the warzone is a natural place for dangers and accidents are waiting to happen. This is something they teach us as the beginning of the game, where the first level is one big tutorial to let you get the hang of things. Intractable scenery means that you can shoot barrels or gas tanks to blow stuff up, or shoot a spindle to drop some heavy loads right on top of a group of unsuspecting Nazis. What aids us even more is when you get close to the hanging weights it will show you the zone where this will drop, while explosions are better known for their range but beware that most of the damage is done thanks to shrapnel flying around.
To achieve these ‘accidents’ in the best possible way it is best to wait for a soundmask to occur. This is for instance a squad of planes flying over or artillery firing as these will mask a big area. For more local soundmasks it is possible to sabotage a generator or create an explosion for muffling your gunshot. In cases where these do not occur, you can also switch to suppressed ammo. While very limited this does gives a nice way to keep your location hidden.
On the field your binoculars is your best friend: it helps you to spot enemies and show information about their loadout. Destructible items such as explosive barrels, jerry cans, winches and weak spots of vehicles show up as in a red color: this will assist you to know where to shoot for maximum effect. When it all does go wrong and your shot is heard the enemy will try to triangulate your position, meaning that if you stick to your current location they will easily find you. This is why the best snipers constantly move around to throw off the soldiers and creating confusion within the ranks. If combat does occur the enemy will point out your last known location. This is shown as a ghost figure and the search will be stopped when either A: they get to your location and you are gone or B: the searching party is wiped out. Then you are all clear and free to return into the shadows.
Since sniping is the main part of the game it is interesting to know how good it all is worked out. Bullet ballistics will differ with each chosen difficulty, ranging from none to simulation. Keeping an eye out on your heart rate is probably one of the key elements to get a good shot. When you are the most calm and concentrated you can empty your lungs to increase focus and predict where the bullet will hit. After you have killed your prey you can loot them for items and ammunition. Some carry around letters or documents that hold information or tell a bit about their personal life. Be sure to conceal the body where it cannot be found, don’t expect to stuff them into lockers or crates since this is not Hitman. Enemies will have a nice selection of weapons to their disposal, and because they are all dead why not use it against them? When standing next to a dropped weapon you can view the stats to decide whether you want to trade in your old rifle or to keep it. Karl can carry a sniper rifle, an assault weapon and a pistol and it is best to choose wisely for the occasion. Weapons will get upgraded as you become proficient with them. By taking out hostiles you will gain XP and with each level up you will get some war bonds for purchasing new gear, and every set levels you will unlock a skill from the skill tree.
For a game that has huge maps this will allow the player to have different approaches towards the enemy. A true hunter will know how to set his traps right, while it may not be your main focus it is good to know that all items have alternative functions. This means that you can use healing items to recover or stabilize you, making sticky grenades or having traps respond differently. Controlling all these actions do go smoothly most of the times, with the character reacting good to every input. However at some more stressful occasions (as in being chased and flanked by the opposition) the game does feel a bit clumsy and can suffer from a less fluent flow.
Now we are going to talk about the subject that every fan of the series will know: the X-ray killcam. This is a glorious and gory function that shows us in detail what damage the bullet does in the target’s body, making for some cool or outright frightening kills, this is one of the key elements where the series is known for. As it is been upgraded with even more detail this makes Sniper Elite improve on their success formula. If you are sensitive or there are some younger people in the room, you do have the option to turn this off, but be honest, this is probably why you buy Sniper Elite for in the first place.
Sniper Elite 4 is like its predecessors a super fun and open game for everyone to enjoy. Whether you are a new player or a war veteran, difficulties are set just right for each level. A wide array of weapons ensures each player has a gun to bond with and this can be proven with the proficiency upgrades. Be a heads-on sniper or a hunter laying traps for unsuspecting Krauts. Try to get the coolest and glorious kill through the X-ray killcam or get up close and personal. Be a shadow in the darkness or the Terminator of fascists. The large maps and many objectives ensure for hours of shooting fun.