Scott Watson reviews Sniper Elite 4…
The Sniper Elite series has been on the go since 2005, with an impressive 10 million plus units shifted since Rebellion first brought it to console and PC. It may have been around for the best part of 12 years, but Sniper Elite 4 is my first introduction to the series cool, central character, Karl Fairburne. A man of few words and I’m pretty sure a close relative to Wolfenstein’s BJ Blazkowicz!
Set in Italy in 1943 and following directly on from the events in Sniper Elite 3, Fairburne is tasked by the Office of Strategic Services to assist the Italian Resistance Force in their fight against the Fascists in World War 2.
In short, the game is a set of wonderfully designed sandbox levels that are built to get the most out of your sniper skills and creative ways of taking out the enemies. And these levels are pretty damn huge too. Multiple paths, secondary missions, collectibles and bonus tasks mean there’s plenty of replayability too as you traverse through each level finding that killer position to take out your targets.
It’s evident right from the off that Rebellion are totally at home with this series. The interface is slick and well laid out, there’s options for not only a single player but co-operative and multi-player, plus a training range to hone those all important sniping skills. The game does a tremendous job of getting you set up to indeed become a Sniper Elite. More importantly, it also makes sure you’re going to enjoy the game in a way that suits your playing style and capabilities with a lot of customisation of difficulty.
Make it a more arcade style, metal gear solid type affair and you’ll find your enemies with cones of vision, the ability to spot and track them with binoculars and a forgiving play through that will allow you to have some fun while doing so. Alternatively you can indeed go full on sniper simulator… no help, no hand holding, just you, your rifle, your wits and no small amount of luck when you need to make that killer shot.
It’s a hugely rewarding experience that you find yourself very quickly losing hours to, thanks in no small part to the flexibility the game gives you to play it the way you want. At the start of each mission you’ll have a primary objective and several secondaries or side missions that can also be unlocked. The game introduces these as part of the overlying narrative, and are usually added to your mission brief by talking to your resistance allies before your mission starts in earnest. It’s a really great way to get you invested in the story and those characters around you.
Once dropped into your mission, the game has a great ebb and flow to it as you make your way towards your objectives. Scouting out the enemy positions, using the sights, sounds and cover around you and then patiently waiting for that perfect moment when you either make the shot or ambush an unsuspecting enemy with a silent take-down is glorious. It’s glorious for two reasons; one, the x-ray kill cam synonymous with the series is back with a vengeance for not only pinpoint sniper kills but also melee attacks and two, there is so much satisfaction to be had when your planning and awareness pays off.
And the game does need you to concentrate and take all this into consideration too. The enemy soldiers don’t miss a thing and can be relentless when they notice a comrade missing or find a dead body. Rebellion have re-worked the AI for Sniper Elite 4 and they are definitely a tenacious bunch. Even after a perfectly executed removal, soldiers in the surrounding area stay on high alert and are also prone to calling in reinforcements to ensure they hunt you down. It does have its advantages though, as you find these distractions working to open up a new way forward in the level and your mission.
This is really the hallmark of a truly great game for me. Rebellion have created, in Sniper Elite 4, a game that gives you lots of wonderful toys to play and experiment with while still driving a strong narrative. Karl Fairburne may be your typical lone wolf gaming hero type, but it’s everything else around him that comes together to make this potentially one of the games of 2017.
- Intuitive and responsive gameplay
- Sandbox levels allowing for creative play
- That simply awesome x-ray kill cam never gets boring
- Impressive enemy AI
- Autosave is a bit too efficient for its own good
Platform review on – Xbox One (also available on PS4 and PC).