Sniper Elite 4 has plenty to live up to. This series has quickly become a fan favorite in part because it eschews the typical features of shooter games. Instead, Rebellion Developments focuses on an entirely tactical approach where stealth and careful planning are as important as shooting skills. Rather than going in guns blazing, the goal is to take out enemies as efficiently and quietly as possible.
There are a few things in Sniper Elite 4 that will immediately stand out to fans of the series. Firstly, this title focuses far more on giving players the choice to approach each mission in their own way. With larger maps and a greater variety of ways you can take out enemies, playthroughs feel less scripted.
It is now also possible to clamber up ledges and get around in a more agile manner. To top it off, the developers have added an entire mix of side missions so you can earn extra XP and upgrade your character. Other than that, Sniper Elite 4 plays in much the same way as every other entry in the franchise.
Similarly, the AI has seen some improvement. Enemy troops now attempt to flank you in a far more effective manner than ever before, while those who have been pinned down by your efforts can expect some relief from their fellow soldiers.
For the most part, however, enemies still don’t pose much of a challenge by themselves. They still make confusing decisions, like failing to adequately search the area. Instead, they choose to check out dead bodies or your location from five minutes ago. It isn’t a major issue in the grand scheme of things. But, other games have managed to create more intelligent opponents.
Taking place in World War II, you play as special forces expert Karl Fairburne, battling his way through Italy. You battle alongside Italian resistant fighters and gain their trust. Ultimately, you must stop the development of a new super weapon the Nazis have designed — a weapon capable of devastating the Allied forces if it is deployed.
But, if you come to Sniper Elite 4 for a great narrative, then you are likely to be disappointed. Just like in the previous games in the series, this title does not put much emphasis on its story. Consequently, the plot is just not that important to the overall experience. What story there is mainly serves as a framing device to take you to different locations and advance the campaign. Therefore, it is quite difficult to truly get invested in anything that happens in the plot.
Characters and Maps
The characters are all rather bland, to the extent you’ll never want to explore their personalities or investigate what drives them in this fight. Even if you did want to, you’d be out of luck because Sniper Elite 4 contains no character development. Moreover, the dialogue is so cliche it just cannot be taken seriously.
Fortunately, the campaign itself does not disappoint. The maps for each level are huge and filled to the brim with collectible items, side missions, and encounters that make exploring the world a true delight. Above all else, having so many things within the maps stops the environments from feeling stale or barren. They seem more like a living, breathing world.
One of the most distinctive features of the Sniper Elite series has always been the killcams that come when you perform certain moves. These make a return in Sniper Elite 4 and show up a little more frequently now that they can be triggered via stealth kills as well as the signature long distance sniper shots.
You can be assured that they look as magnificent and gruesome as they ever did. Watching the bones of your foe splinter as the bullet you fired smashes through a skull is particularly satisfying despite the grisly nature. This title somehow manages to balance that sense of over-the-top violence with the gratification of pulling off a great shot so that things don’t seem too macabre.
Beyond the killcams, Sniper Elite 4 does a good, if not exceptional, job presentation-wise. The sound effects and voice acting are both strong. The musical score does just enough to carry the game and is varied enough so that it never become repetitive. However, you’ll be unlikely to come away from this game and want to check out the soundtrack on its own merits.
The visuals make up for any deficiencies with the audio. Everything looks detailed and even with the huge size of the environments, the draw distances ensure you can see everything on screen pretty well.
In short, Sniper Elite 4 is an enjoyable third-person shooter that has taken everything learned from the previous three titles to create a solid experience. The gameplay improvements work well and the killing cams are more gruesome than ever before. There are a few issues in terms of screen tearing and graphical glitches, but even the botched narrative doesn’t diminish the experience of being able to freely travel through each map as you hunt down your targets.