Many may claim that there’s nothing interesting in countless killing. But with proper gameplay, it is what made Sniper Elite series a strong IP.
After his trip to Africa, Karl Fairburne didn’t have a chance to use some of his leave of absence. It is now 1943 and he is sent to Italy, where Nazis are still conducting their evil business of building another Wunderwaffe. Even though your main goal is to kill some evil officers, the Resistance and even strangely-speaking Mafia is involved this time around.
But if you wish for a great story, that’s the wrong place. It’s about killing, not the plot.
Trip to Italy
There are eight main missions, with additional one titled Target: Führer, where you – surprise, surprise – are tasked with killing Hitler himself. That’s well enough, as you’ll spend around 25 hours on finishing the campaign while completing majority of side objectives. Some claimed that Sniper Elite 4 looks like an expansion to the previous entry as there’s surely more of the same gameplay we are used to.
The main achievement of this game are the levels – much more impressive in scale and I’d like to reiterate that. Each mission is a semi-open world with a lot of reconnaissance, stealth action and planning. There’s also a lot of variety, harbors, villages and woods included. I like the general look of the game, but as you’ll notice in the videos embedded around, it’s not a benchmark-like title for your rig. I especially liked the lighting, but some textures are simply ugly. Fortunately, the whole title is masterfully optimized, with a stable framerate throughout the game with only small hiccups after some loadings and on one map especially (no spoilers here).
I also didn’t like the design of the characters. With problematic lip-sync, they are not the most impressive NPCs I’ve met in my gaming history. It’s hard to remember the heroes and, what’s worse, the villains. But you know what? When the real action starts, it’s easy to just let it go and focus on the gameplay.
Who shot first?
Long-distance sniping is still the focus of the game and the X-ray feature characteristic to the series thanks to the earlier entry is back with some gory additions. I’ve felt that this time around, however, it did not appear that often. Meanwhile, it was largely expanded with additional full-fleshed animations for explosions, environmental kills etc. Shoot a gasoline can and the mayhem is just beautiful. All in all, it makes your sniping a very satisfying experience.
I won’t lie when stating that some missions took me around 1.5 hour. Enemies are numerous and full stealth combined with a lot of scouting and sneaking is required, so the tasks are both demanding and rewarding. You have to look carefully at your surroundings – there are various occasions to silently eliminate an enemy scout for example by destroying a girder below the balcony on which he stands.
There are various side-quest scattered around each map as well. If you want to get a 100% playthrough, you’ll more often than not get off the beaten track. That’s good and advised as there are places on each map from which you can quite comfortably finish your main objective with a long-range assassination.
Unfortunately, the progression system seems added without any grand idea for Fairbourne’s development. During each mission you earn Experience Points and some cash. The former is used to get bonuses like faster marking of targets. The latter serves as a currency to buy new weapons. It collides with another mechanic, namely the bonuses that you unlock for proper usage of a certain weapon. If you find a gun you like, you probably won’t change it until another playthrough, if ever.
The binoculars seem too powerful, as they allow you not only to mark enemies, but also find weak points in cars and tanks. Nonetheless, you can customize your difficulty settings. There are some options for the AI, weapons and even some tactical aspects like auto heal or HUD visibility. To sum up, Sniper Elite 4 becomes as hard as you would like it to be and it can be played quite comfortably by casuals and hardcore players alike.
Help of a friend
You can play the campaign missions in co-op with another player, but I would recommend it for the second playthrough as the discovery is a fun process here. If you like Horde modes, there’s a Survival for up to four players, but it’s best to find friends dedicated to playing cooperatively (cheers, Plushowy!). I would like to write more about the competitive modes, but even after the debut finding a match is a lengthy process. It happened in the same manner with Sniper Elite 3, so no surprise here.
One side comment: I played both with a keyboard plus mouse and gamepad, and both configurations work nice. Of course the mouse adds some subtlety to your shooting, but yeah, I’m a dirty casual and the Xbox’s pad serves me well.
Sniper Elite 4 is a well-developed continuation that focuses on maintaining the heart of the series while increasing its scale. Levels are much bigger and X-ray kills are as joyful as ever. No rest for the Nazis.