Editor’s Note: Lyle Arends, ex-G3AR reviewer took the opportunity to review Sniper Elite 4 for us here at Game Arena. Check out his review below!
I’m not overly familiar with the world of Sniper Elite, with my experience being limited to a single demo and previews/reviews and knowing you can shoot NAZIs in the balls, but through miracles and blood magicks, I’ve been hashtag blessed with the latest entry in the series, Sniper Elite 4. And after hundreds of brutal headshots, exploded hearts and eviscerated testicles, I have returned from 1943 Italy to tell you of my experiences.
Sniper Elite 4 puts you back in the boots of the elite sniper, gravelly voiced (and suspected jazz singer by night) Karl Fairburne, this time in 1943 Italy, tasked with assisting the Italian resistance fight the “Fascists” AKA them NAZIS.
The story takes you to numerous locations, from small quaint seaside towns to the gorgeous Italian countrysides to heavily occupied seaports — and each is a fun sandbox in its own right, which took me about an hour and a half each to finish.
Levels are generously large, but not overwhelmingly so in that unlike other sandbox games where it’s mostly wasted space, Sniper Elite dots each area with something to do, find or NAZIS to shoot… In them “nutz”.
The problem here though is that ultimately, the story is pretty formulaic and does little to engage you. Main missions are reduced to shoot that thing or this person (usually in the gonads), blow up whatever — but side missions are usually more varied, but usually, they’re also just bring death and destruction to X. Honestly, you’ll be hard-pressed to really give a fudge about the tale the game has to tell. NAZIs are butt-holes, you kill them. Clap once. However, Sniper Elite 4’s saving grace is its ridiculously fun gameplay.
As you probably guessed, Sniper Elite is all about being a super sneaky sniping bee (buzz, buzz, Sharron) and sniping is something you’ll be doing a lot of… But – plot twist – only if you want to.
SEV4 offers you a diverse smörgåsbord of tools to have funtimes murdertimes with, allowing you to tank it with SMGs, shotguns, rocket launchers, grenades and, brutal melee takedowns. But even of the easier difficulties, enemies work together, so they’ll focus fire and can mow you down fairly easy. Even if you hold your own, though, enemies will call in way tougher reinforcements to put an end to your Ramboing shenanigans.
But the true fun lies in taking the path of the ghost warrior >puts on rival referencing game shades<, using your trusty sniper rifle to put an end to the manglobes of many a NAZI and finishing levels without anyone knowing you were even ever there. Sniping is incredibly satisfying, as you’ll use vantage points and various other cover to pick off enemies from a safe distance, adjusting your sights, distance and factoring in their movement path to hit a teeth-shattering, eye popping headshot from across the map – and cranking up the difficulty adds more elements such as a wind factor which makes every single crack shot feel like an accomplishment.
You have the ability to enter a focus mode which, slightly slows down time, gives you extra zoom and allows you to fine-tune your shot to essentially guarantee a killing blow. You don’t even have to hit enemies directly, as you can use environmental hazards like the deadly red boxes/barrels, hitting enemy grenades or shooting haphazardly hanging items to inflict gruesome, explosive deaths.
But, even if you hang back, you’ll still have to be careful, as enemies can triangulate your position if you aren’t using suppressed rounds, or using environmental noises (airplanes, noisy generators, explosions etc) to mask your shots. This adds another level of strategy, as you’ll have to time your shots with that approaching plane to guarantee you don’t bring the entire camp down on you. But, if that does happen, you can booby trap your surrounding area with mines (or even enemy bodies if you’re so sadistically inclined) to give you extra protection from any wondering foe.
Doing all of the above nets you XP which will allow you to level up as you play, and this allows for numerous unlocks, which ranges from increasing the time spent in focus mode to reducing damage to item-based upgrades (starting a mission with extra items or finding more when you loot bodies) and these can prove vital in later missions. You can also upgrade your weapons by performing specific tasks with them (no scope kills, kills from a certain distance etc), which adds new zoom levels, extra damage and even ammo.
Graphically, SE4 is actually a surprisingly gorgeous game, and like I mentioned before, you’re taken to a variety of different maps, and they all look pretty gosh darn purrty. Whether it’s a sea-side town, moonlit docks or a snowy mountain base, SEV4 is fantastically designed, with an underplayed musical score accenting the action and tenser moments without overwhelming it, allowing gameplay to take precedence.
Where the game shines graphically is with its signature X-ray kills, where the camera will follow your bullet in slo-mo as it soars across the map and go into an X-Ray mode as it hits the enemy, allowing you to witness some >chef kissy fingers< carnage, as you see organs explode and bones shatter in horrifically delightful detail. Hearts, lungs, kidneys, love spheres – they’re all fair game for your bullets. Now, you’d think you’d get tired of these after a while, but I have over 500 kills with more than half of those involving X-Ray kills, and I can tell you now, I’m still not sick of seeing some NAZI marbles being popped.
There’s also multiplayer, where everything you’ve unlocked in the game carries over. You get a mix of traditional modes such as free-for-all, team deathmatch, capture the point — as well as unique modes, like one where the person with the furthest kill distance wins. I wasn’t all that impressed with these modes, but Survival and co-op were pretty fun.
Overall, Sniper Elite 4 is just plain ridiculously fun to play. The gameplay is an utter pleasure, it’s gorgeous to behold and overall, it’s just a fantastically designed game.