Its time to dust of that scope, take a deep breath and carry on our adventures as Karl Farinburne as we jump back into the world Sniper Elite 4. Following straight on from the events of Sniper Elite 3 do we have a deserved sequel or are we looking at another IP suffering from fatigue lets find out in our Sniper Elite 4 review.
As a shooter fan I’m always open to new ways for developers to take risks and change up the pace with regards to gameplay and for me Sniper elite 4 creates a nice niche of delivering a great shooter experience without the need to go at breakneck speed. Well you can but I’d strongly suggest you don’t! Its gameplay stops short of being a sniper simulator but adds in large open worlds and environments to act as a playground you can attack in any way you wish. For those not familiar with the series think Hitman without the intricate nature and you’d be on the right lines.
So if you have never played a sniper Elite game before should you jump on in? Absolutely yes the game is brutal at points and will punish you for miscalculated mistakes but from a gameplay mechanic perspective its really easy to pick up and part of those mistakes is what brings joy to the gameplay. No level is played the same as you control completely how you approach it. Go stealth and melee kill through the foliage, go loud with your side arm/ trip mines or Snipe from your perfect vantage point. This variety is what makes the game so enjoyable and with the ability to save frequently this is a newcomers dream before you can really start to go for those masterful high scores on your later playthroughs.
Story wise the game is pretty poor, Sniper Elite 4 is set in Italy in 1943, in the immediate aftermath of the events in Sniper Elite III. Players control Karl Fairburne, an Office of Strategic Services agent, who is tasked to assist the Italian resistance force to fight against the Fascists in World War II. So yep you guessed it theres more Nazi’s and more Hitler than previous installments. I wont knock the game for being set in world war 2 certainly but its poor character design and overly simplistic dialogue really take away from the games more enjoyable features. Less talking more sniping is the request here. The story is certainly predictable and by the time you have completed the main campaign the memories are not about where the story took you but are those signature moments forged weaving your way through the maps.
An event that needn’t be undertaken solo either. Sniper Elite 4 has options which facilitate co-op play on the main campaign. Jumping in with your buddy and picking what the side of the map to go for is a real kick and for me is the best way to experience the much larger open sandbox environments delivered in Sniper Elite 4. These maps are around 3x the size of those found in Sniper Elite 4 and with a less linear nature due to quest selection becoming side tracked is a likely scenario. I found also that these maps also took a fair bit of playing time, Sniper Elite 4 will require some time commitment whether its playing through the story campaign or the survival modes. However partnering up in Co-Op significantly speeds the process up.
Helping increase the variety and immersion in the new sandbox environments is the improved enemy AI, I found they searched better, were quicker to spot me and depending on what difficulty you played were far more tactically aware taking flanking positions and searching of the beaten tracks. This also encouraged me as the player to look for unique ways to get round enemies and with added traversal and takedown options climbing pipes and silent enemy takedowns really support going stealth when theres simply too many bodies standing in your way. Failing this utilising the binoculars is key to plot your approach in battle and this also added a layer of enjoyment I didn’t expect, too many games simply tag the enemies you see but with Sniper Elite 4 you get tactical information and you can even found out some interesting back stories across the way. Just don’t run as you can be heard across the whole map nearly when you do something I really hope Rebellion patch as its a bit too heavy handed with regards to how large an area you can be heard in when you start to run.
For me multiplayer is where the real fun is at and there are two modes. Multiplayer in its traditional varying formats and Survival. My style of play is probably a little too heavy handed for the finest Sniper style gameplay so multiplayer allows me to pick that balance which suits my style. With gameplay modes allowing team death match, free for all and a few well know other variants of domination. Theres a choice for most players. Granted in playing these during embargo there wasn’t a huge number populating the lobbies and one downside that can be pointed at Rebellion is that the maps are probably too big for small lobby numbers. It would be good to see if the boundaries on these could be tailored to match the player numbers but I see the drawbacks as it would limit the sniping opportunities. However the maps are incredibly dense and offer plenty of opportunities to pick a perfect sniping shot the only challenge being its a very quiet map when everyone wants to snipe.
The most fun I had with Sniper Elite 4 was within its survival mode which can be played in either solo or co-op. This mode is a horde style design which sees wave after wave of enemy attack you. There also a host of difficulty settings so if your up for the challenge you will certainly find a difficult experience here. Its great fun is delivered through the ability to feel a little more free flowing, happier to pull out your machine gun and mow a few infantry down or lay down some well spotted trip mines to catch approach enemies unaware. Better still the game mode still offers those epic slow motion bullet kills.
Having played on Xbox One the game is both striking and jarring in equal measure
What was really impressive about all the modes on offer was the ability for cross mode progression. I was being rewarded for everything I do earning XP in the story missions through actions and earning XP for completing waves of survival and multiplayer. All of which leaves you feeling like you are always progressing towards that next unlock to put the finishing touch son one of your many customisable loud outs.
Where there is criticisms to be put to Sniper Elite 4 is in its performance. Having played on Xbox One the game is both striking and jarring in equal measure. There is of course the stunning settings that are illuminated magnificently and large open landscapes do look stunning. However up close some textures appear very edgy and lacking that polish. When the heat is on and your cover is blown I noticed varying drops in frame rates most notably when in a close quarters shooting match. Perhaps a drawback of that extra AI power pulling performance down. The performance issues can also be seen in the cut scenes which are rendered in engine. Both in terms of frame rates and flickering lines of graphical glitches its a bit off putting. However we would like to note we haven’t tested this on PS4 Pro where the developers have offered enhanced visuals in 4K checkerboard rendering and some other tasty goodness. The performance I wouldn’t say is bad and certainly wouldn’t put me of recommending the game but if your after a game to show of your fancy console to your mates then this one probably aint going to deliver on that front.
Sniper Elite 4 was reviewed on Xbox One supplied by Rebellion.