14 February 2017 (released)
22 February 2017
Historical shooters are coming back in fashion thankfully and it’s about time. We’ve had our fair share of over the top futuristic shooters that overwhelm the senses with boring Sci-fi aesthetics for warfare. While Battlefield and Call of Duty are just leaving the realms of modern and future warfare, one series stuck to its roots and now celebrates it's fourth instalment. Sniper Elite 4 is back in all it’s bloody, gruesome and Xray glory.
It’s 1943 and you guessed it, those dastardly Nazis are up to no good again making super weapons that’ll win them the war (never happened thankfully). But stepping up from the concealing foliage is legendary war hero and master sniper Karl Fairburne who’s determine to ruin the Nazi’s plans once more. This time he’s been sent into the beautiful landscapes of Italy where the Nazis are developing a new weapon of mass destruction. However there's a rebellion brewing and this is Karl’s best chance to cripple the Nazi war machine and free Italy from the Third Reich.
For those who’ve played any previous Sniper Elite games will feel right at home here. Mechanically and in design the Sniper Elite 4 is very similar to that of Sniper Elite 3. Karl will have at his disposal a high grade sniper rifle, side arms and will be able to deploy a series of traps in order to disarm heavily armed enemy forces. But Sniper Elite has always been a series more attuned to perfecting stealth manoeuvres, careful planning your attacks and having patience. It’s about taking your shots at the right time, scouting the area to locate enemy positions and ensuring you remain hidden to your best efforts. Overall the gameplay is highly rewarding if players manage to accomplish their various tasks in a graceful and grotesque manner.
Even though players will have a range of methods for disposing those fiendish Nazis, the most important item in your inventory will be the sniper rifle. Overall it’s the player's skill which will determine its effectiveness on the battlefield along with keen observations and cunning. Sniper Elite 4 is fluently paced and offers a grand sense of reward through careful planning and execution. This is definitely not for those who enjoy gunning and running but rather thinking outside the box to overcome their opponents in the best possible ways. Pulling off those gruesomely beautiful Xray kills (which is the staple of Sniper Elite now) can be the most satisfying thing to play even after doing it for many hours.
The worlds are immersive and vastly beautiful as you explore and hunt your prey. Rebellion has done an amazing job at crafting a world that's flexible and engaging to explore due to the alternating terrains, multiple paths and interactive elements. I found the world’s design to be an improve over Sniper Elite 3 which to myself felt constrictive and linear. However you truly feel as though the world is highly organic and more enjoyable to engage with. There's even a host of environmental kills that allow you to take out your target without raising too much suspicion. Both entertaining and useful, especially when your playing the higher difficulties.
Often enough missions have a substantial amount of main and side objectives to play earning you XP and new unlocks. Even though objectives do tend to range from just finding people, killing targets and general fetch quests. There are a couple of missions mind you that deliver a grand finale such as my personal favourite, destroying the railway bridge with epic results. Otherwise I found the main problem with Sniper Elite 4 to be the narrative itself. It’s not flawed in the sense it's poorly written and has a little more depth compared to previous titles. But the plot, delivery and main points of interest in terms of story telling are just flat, uninspiring and a little tedious. Karl is again a very dull protagonist with very little to connect with emotionally while the Nazi super weapon plot device has been done to death.
This was my main concern with Sniper Elite 4 that overall it’s very safe and all too familiar. Story, gameplay and even the Xray death animations are the same as the previous instalment. I would’ve liked to seen an expansion on gameplay and level design to introduce new dynamic elements that make the experience different. The death animations haven’t seen more detail added and for those who’ve played Sniper Elite 3 like me, it’s just a little tedious after the first few hours. Again a deeper story or a dramatic change in plot elements would’ve been nice to see. Bringing in a new character, a new time period or possibly introduce an open world would be risky yet a worthy change.
However, these concerns didn't make the game any less fun and after 13 hours of play I was still highly engaged. I found Sniper Elite 4 to be utterly enthralling despite the issues with it's intense sniper gameplay and cleaver brutality. The upgrading systems kept my interest throughout with each weapon and new skill unlocking, making you a superior warrior with each rank earned. Survival and co-op are definitely major plus points here and offer more brutal, tactical combat situations that’ll keep you hooked and competing for many hours to come. Overall, I was captivated with Sniper Elite 4!
While Sniper Elite 4 is a grand and enjoyable experience, I hope Rebellion take the time to invest in developing the next game to be something different. Placing the next instalment in a new era would be great, something in the Vietnam would be amazing with new weapons, new characters and even an element like an open world setting would be the next step as Rebellion have shown themselves time and time again to be confident developers and designers.
This definitely gets a recommendation from me and for the fans, you’ll love it. But be considerate that this may feel very similar to Sniper Elite 3 and if you’re hoping for some big changes, they’re here but very few in place.
++ Enthralling and gripping gameplay
+ Enriching upgrading systems
+ Looks absolutely stunning
- Bland narrative
- Lack of new dynamics or changes
- Same Xray Animations with little improvements
A PS4 review code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review