What is Sniper Elite 4?
It’s 1943 and Sniper Elite 4’s hero Karl Fairburne is in Italy, attempting to save the country from the steely grip of Fascism.
There’s also the small task of stopping the Axis forces and destroying their formidable weapon, the Schwerer Gustav, before they can use it. Thankfully, he’s tackling that one with the help of a few friends from the Allied Resistance and a group of rebels called the Partisans.
Running at a stunning 1080p full HD and at 60fps on both Xbox One and PS4, Sniper Elite 4 is bigger, badder and more beautiful than ever before.
But there’s much more to Sniper Elite 4 than just good looks and the brilliant slow-mo bullet replays the series is know for.
Is Sniper Elite 4 good?
While the other Sniper Elite games have often been plagued by bugs and irritating quirks, Sniper Elite 4 is an incredibly solid game from the get go.
From the opening mission, the Italian setting draws you in with its wide open spaces, colourful tiles on buildings and strong Mediterranean vibe. With its glorious panoramas picked out by the setting sun in one mission, Sniper Elite 4 can almost feel like a glorious ad urging you to book a holiday, but then the real fun starts.
For each mission you’re dropped into a massive open level with one or two main objectives: kill this general, blow up that massive gun – there’s always something to aim for. But it’s up to you how you get there.
Each map is sprawling, with even the smallest apparently three times the size of anything you’ve seen before in Sniper Elite. But there’s never a feeling that they’re too large. Each one is littered with plenty of outposts, side missions, hidden quests and tunnels to discover, meaning there’s always a variety of ways to tackle the maps and the main objectives.
It’s easy to spend multiple hours on each one just exploring and getting a little obsessed with taking out every soldier on the map, collecting documents and generally causing chaos. Landing those long-range shots and watching the biological damage you’ve caused is strangely hypnotic and utterly addictive – if a little psychotic. There aren’t many games where you can watch your bullets ricocheting inside metal helmets and skulls, piercing lungs and doing all kinds of other strangely mesmerising yet brutal things.
Heck, there’s even a special mention for testicle shots.
It’s an experience that will have you flipping from tense exhilaration to gleeful madness as you land an X-Ray worthy shot or manage to take out a whole outpost without getting spotted.
Even if your location is rumbled and it all descends into hell, there’s an adrenaline rush as you switch between weapons and hiding spots. It’s a tightly knitted, tense game that doesn’t disappoint.
That’s partly due to the AI being much more intelligent, and therefore unpredictable, than in other Sniper Elite games or other stealth titles for that matter. They will react to dead bodies, notice if one of their colleagues has gone missing, surround your last known position or make sure they’re prepared for the next shot depending on where and how their comrade fell. You can even booby trap bodies and use them as lures for their buddies, which is a little twisted but utterly effective.
It’s a gloriously terrifying moment when you’re lurking in long grass seemingly hidden, but you’ve suddenly got a score of enemies surrounding you just waiting for you to make a move.
The combat has evolved too for Sniper Elite 4, so you’re not too reliant on only being a sniper assassin. There’s a brand new skill tree system, weapon upgrades and even new traversal tactics like ledge hangs, shimmies and more. It’s certainly not on an RPG scale by any means, but there are some great new ways to have a little more fun and creativity with Sniper Elite.
In many ways, it’s similar to the recent episodic Hitman release, with its massive open maps, tonnes of ways to tackle each mission and plenty of side content, just with Sniper Elite 4 all wrapped up in one epic package.
While Hitman saw you having fun with disguises and hilarious prank-like murders, the comedy in Sniper Elite 4 comes from its brutality. Smashing heads by dropping hanging pallets of goods; leaving a trail of mines along a country path for the unsuspecting armoured vehicle; blowing up an explosive barrel next to a group of chatting soldiers and watching the shrapnel rip through their bones.
It’s also an incredibly compelling co-op experience, as you can now do all of this with a friend and take on the game’s main missions together.
In fact, The only thing that slightly lets Sniper Elite 4 down is its story. Although there’s a fair whack of emotion in there and some interesting themes, it’s just not that convincing. There’s more of a focus on ‘kill this guy, take down that outpost’ than the reasons why you’re doing it. The levels are so well constructed and involving that you’ll forget about the story entirely – especially when you’re spending two hours or more meticulously sweeping across each out to eke out all its secrets.
Sniper Elite 4 really is Hitman for those who wants a bit more brutality, but with the same attention to detail and vast yet jam-packed maps. It’s arrived at the perfect time Aside from the slightly lacklustre story, this is an immensely solid game that we’ve come back to again-and-again with great pleasure and will do for months to come.
Sniper Elite 4 is released worldwide on February 14 on PS4, Xbox One and PC.