Review: Sniper Elite 4 (Xbox One)
If you enjoy explosive head shots and a little over-the-top gore then let me introduce you the the Sniper Elite series. For those of you that have never heard of the Sniper Elite games then don’t worry because they can be summed up pretty easily. All the previous games have seen you play as an American Sniper during WW2, with the simple task of taking out as many Nazi’s as you can. The series really made a name for itself with their extremely brutal X-Ray kills that would follow the bullet from your rifle and show you all the damage it does to your victim as it tears through organs and shatters bones – it’s as cool as it sounds. The latest entry – Sniper Elite 4 is without a doubt the most ambitious game in the franchise to date and some of the greatest work to come out of developers Rebellion since their Alien vs Predator games.
The latest game takes us away from the deserts of North Africa and transports us to the beautiful vistas of the Italian mountain side. Once again you play an American sniper with a dead aim who is tasked with taking out key German officers. The first thing you will notice when starting the single player campaign is the map size. Even the smallest map in Sniper Elite 4 is three times larger than any map in the previous games. The extra map size allows you to get more creative when it comes to your approach to your target, also there are plenty more traps to use, such as a conveniently-placed crane with cargo dangling above some poor unfortunate German officers head.
Two birds, one stone
If you are a little more sinister you could blast a Nazi’s knee cap open and leave him to scream for help – another great trap system. His buddies won’t be far away and will try and pick him up to get him off the battlefield and that’s when the Nazi two for one special starts. One of the biggest new improvements is the close quarters combat that has added X-Ray kills to take downs – a simple addition but very satisfying. It reminded me of the X-Ray moves in Mortal Kombat X and it really makes a big difference to the overall enjoyment of the game, as you will often try to pull off a stealth kill just to be rewarded with a slow-motion presentation of your knife traveling through organs and bones – like a hot knife through butter.
The gunplay with your other weapons also feels tighter, using a Thompson machine gun and shooting out of cover feels like it is one step closer to being as good as big AAA third-person title – but still not quite there yet. Also, enemy AI feels smarter, once you blow your cover they will triangulate your position and will hunt you down, leaving you with few options that often results in you to retreating and hiding. There are plenty of side quests within each mission for extra XP that really stretches the game time for each mission. On average a mission took me around 2 hours to complete but it’s up to you in terms of how long you choose to spend on each level. If you are not interested in the side mission objectives you can get through it much quicker than that.
A game of patience
One aspect of Sniper Elite 4 that really impressed me was the amount of effort Rebellion put into the multiplayer. For starters, you can once again play the entire single player campaign with a friend via online co-op, allowing you to sync up head shots and perform perfectly-timed double kills. Then there is traditional multiplayer that include games like team death match and free-for-all. I must say if you don’t enjoy camping or falling victim to a camper’s bullet then you will more than likely not enjoy the multiplayer aspect. Games can often be very slow, I didn’t manage to find full servers so there was only ever a handful of people in a match at any one time, which led to very little action.
However, I can imagine that these games would be filled up with players after launch when more people get their hands on the game. Survival mode also returns which lets you face off against waves of enemy soldiers until you run out of either bullets or blood – whichever comes first. This mode was thoroughly enjoyable and my favourite aspect of the multiplayer offering by far, sadly it did not have bot support so I often had to go at it as a lone wolf. I think there is a lot of hours you could sink into the multiplayer offering but, as I explained earlier, if you are looking for something fast-paced in terms of multiplayer then it might not be for you.
I feel that overall Sniper Elite 4 just feels much more polished than the previous games but it certainly doesn’t introduce anything ground breaking for the series. As always I really enjoyed watching slow motion head shots and I feel that even the X-Ray kills are the best they have ever looked, especially the close combat kills. However, I feel that having four games set in the same era is pushing it a bit, I would have loved to see a new setting, perhaps Vietnam, or even modern day combat. The bottom line is that if you enjoyed Sniper Elite 3 then this latest entry will most likely be your favourite in the franchise to date, but also it will leave you expecting some big strides forward with the next game.