I remember a few years ago everyone was hemming and hawing that World War II shooters were a thing of a past and that Call of Duty was launching us into a bold new era of warfare shooters. They were wrong, EA proved that with Battlefield 1 and Rebellion follows suit with Sniper Elite 4; World War II is here to stay. Thankfully Activision screwed the pooch with Infinite Warfare and shoved all of gamers back into the loving arms of head-shotting Nazi’s. And if there is one company and series that can perfect the Nazi headshot, it is Rebellion. I thought that after many entries into this series that it would have become stale, I was incorrect, there is nothing stale about sniping unsuspecting people from afar. Being a World War II era sniper rifle makes it a bit harder, but why make it easy then the kill just isn’t as satisfying.
Sniper Elite 4 continues the story of Karl Fairburne and his trek through the annals of history. Instead of fighting against Rommel in Africa or trying to acquire knowledge of the V-2 rocket you are in Italy before D-day. You are to assist with the Italian Partisans before General Eisenhower storms the beaches at Normandy. Within the overarching story of seeing the Allies succeed and win the war, you must complete other objectives that will make everything easier for the Allies and yourself. In one objective I had to battle another sniper to make my trek to the radio tower easier, needless to say, he didn’t survive long. The intel you collect during your objectives moves the story forward and propels you further into enemy territory where you are alone with only your wits and aim to keep you safe.
The story isn’t what brings a gamer to this series, though, it is the sniping; Rebellion has perfected that niche in their game. Gamers everywhere are better for having this type of series that focuses on sneaking around and sniping people from afar instead of the constant drum of the battlefield. Holding your breath with R1 makes your shot all that more steady and with that the hope of seeing the x-ray bullet cam. If you’ve never played this series just think about the broken bones x-ray mechanic in Mortal Kombat X, now amplify that into a bullet slicing through Nazi organs. Sounds like fun right? Now sadly you don’t get the x-ray mechanic every time, you have to earn them with trick shots and well-placed bullets. To get these perfect shots you have to navigate a Nazi and objective riddled map.
The controls are really simple and the hardest thing to get used to is holding down R1 to steady yourself and R2 to fire the fatal shots. Everything else is pretty standard, the thumb-sticks control your movement and camera. The D-pad lets you zoom in with the scope and the binoculars, plus if you hit R2 after hitting R3 to get to the binoculars you tag the enemy which makes creeping around much easier. The D-pad changes your weapons so if you need to run and gun you can press left on it and bring up your machine gun which you aim with L2 and fire with R2, always keep it loaded incase you are discovered. Holding down L1 brings up your weapon wheel where you can choose what other items you carry, these vary from grenades, mines and health packs. Keeping a health pack ready for a dicey situation is the smartest thing to do, those Nazi’s will gang up on you, to use that health pack just hit R1 and you’ll be fit to fight again in no time. Try to avoid getting surrounded, though, this game doesn’t forgive and you could be dead in no time out in the open, your best bet is to get close to an enemy and hit triangle, this prompts a silent kill that could save your life. Just don’t forget to hide the body.
I was pleasantly surprised when I ventured onto my first map, not only was it colorful, it was massive. I didn’t expect that map to be so huge and the objectives to be so many, I tinkered around on one map for over two hours blowing up trucks, destroying cameras and taking out the Nazi’s “top men.” Just like the Hitman games, you can go about your objective in many different ways, you can sneak kill the target, blow up a car near him or just give him a good old fashioned head shot. Either way, you do it, it is satisfying, especially if you kill them in many different and creative ways. While the map was lush and gorgeous the enemy types didn’t vary too much, the soldiers looked alike and you could differentiate them by the fact if they wore a cap or not. The officers did look different but that was just so you knew who to shoot first, enemy variety would have been nice for the masses of Nazi’s you get to slaughter.
What is unfortunate for a niche game like Sniper Elite is the fact that it gets repetitive very quickly. The objectives do differ, but accomplishing them get to be repetitive, I did get to fight an armored gun boat, but that went down with one shot. While it was fun, it was fleeting. I know that there really isn’t a way to make sniping unique all the time, but I wish there was a bit of a different route at times. This doesn’t take away from the game at all, but after playing about four hours straight for this review I was getting tired of looking through a scope. The only other negative that I saw was how the mission set up took away from the over arching story telling. Anytime there is a break between levels I get pulled from the games’ immersion, I don’t know if I’m the only one, but Metal Gear Solid V did that to me. I like the feel of a linear story with no breaks, let me move from map to map and tell the story like that. Don’t break it up and make it episodic, if I wanted that I’d download a TellTale game.
I’m thrilled that Rebellion decided to continue Karl’s story, instead of time jumping 60 years into the future and having Karl Jr. shoot Nazi’s in space. This series feels right at home in World War II and being a history buff I like hearing things I may not know about Churchill or Eisenhower. The negatives that I found in this title are not cringe-worthy enough for me to tell you not to buy this game; in fact, I implore you to buy this game. Rebellion has cooked up a nice little property here that I would like to see continue, the game changes enough with each iteration that it hasn’t gotten stale yet and that is rare nowadays with sequels being pumped out on a yearly basis. It is nice to see a fresh take on World War II that involves, but doesn’t rely on stealth, and that improves as time goes on. If you want to get back into historical shooters, like playing stealth games and enjoy a good melon popping every now and then, Sniper Elite 4 is the title for your February.
Sniper Elite 4
- Controls easily, sniping a Nazi has never been easier
- Leveling up garners you better equipment, which makes the side objectives less optional
- Graphics look great
- Very Repetitive
- Mission construction breaks up the story and pulls you out of the game
- Nazi's pretty much all look alike, no vast character design for the grunts