Overall - 60%
A lack of depth in character progression and weapon variety, coupled with a stagnant and unimaginative competitive multiplayer element hold the game back, but it's still one of the best entries in the series so far.
Rebellion Developments’ Sniper Elite tactical shooter series has long been a familiar face since its debut in 2005. Nearly 12 years later, has the franchise made enough of a leap for its fourth rendition? Check out our honest game review of Sniper Elite 4 for the full lowdown.
Sniper Elite’s trademark bullet cam was the one feature that helped the original climb to success more than a decade ago, and it wouldn’t be unfair to question whether that single element has survived the test of time. With a sickening and slightly sadistic smile on my face, I’m happy to report that it has. For the fourth time in the franchise, I was running around realistic military environments to find the highest possible vantage point with one single intention: killing as many people in the most disturbing way possible.[columns count=’2′] [column_item]I could understand how getting so much joy from Sniper Elite’s grossly realistic bullet cam kills could be seen as a trigger for some sickening emotions deep within my psysche, but I was more than happy enough to lead myself down this twisted rabbit hole. Whether it was a quick bullet through the cranium or a jaw-shattering bullet that launched the teeth of my enemy 20 feet into the air, every long distance sniper kill was rewarding and enjoyable, even if they were somewhat twisted.[/column_item] [column_item] [quote style=’1′ cite=” title=”]The level of satisfaction reached from seeing the innards of an enemy soldier shatter into pieces from a single bullet is disturbing[/quote] [/column_item] [/columns]
if by some random urge for normality you grow bored of shattering enemy organs from afar, there’s a number of tweaks made to the bullet cam that add more depth and variety to the different types of takedowns you can deploy. Up close and personal melee kills can also trigger the bullet cam, while a grenade showcases slow-motion shrapnel deployment that tears through human flesh like a 1000 degree knife slicing satisfyingly through butter.
Obviously a game cannot ride the train of success on a single feature alone, but thankfully Sniper Elite 4 backs it up with solid and reliable stealth mechanics. Moving around the map is simple and responsive for the most part, though the inability to climb natural obstacles can feel frustrating at times. Instead of having the option to navigate over rocky terrain, the game instead forces players down a linear route that doesn’t provide many options when it comes to taking down a choke point of enemies and vehicles.
While the game lacks the ability to climb the natural terrain, the additions of basic vertical elements are a big improvement on previous entries. Scaling the exterior of buildings or well placed pipes and other navigational elements does create for a lot of freedom when the game allows, but it still feels like there are a number of forced paths.
Outside of the inner workings of the games’ bullet cam and stealth mechanics, there are a wealth of other features to keep you busy. Performing feats of impressive ability during missions and completing sub-objectives awards experience points that can be used to assign special abilities, such as increased ammo carrying capacity or faster looting. This perk is especially vital, as it can take nearly six seconds to loot a single corpse – a seemingly pointless frustration that I felt was added purely to have a skill to counter the length of time it takes. While the progression is a welcome feature, it lacks any real depth or variety.
There’s also a decent arsenal of weapons in the game that fall into three categories: your trusted rifle, a pistol, and a secondary weapon (typically a SMG or a shotgun). There are around 20 weapons, but the differences between each within the same category are negligible. I went through the entire campaign in co-op just using the starting equipment. Further customization is available through weapon skins that can be unlocked after reaching a certain prestige level with certain weapons, but outside of the rather unimaginative multiplayer, there are not many reasons to track these down.
Sniper Elite’s trademark multiplayer makes its triumphant return with both competitive multiplayer and co-op options available. Co-op is where the bulk of the quality lies, as two players can work through the entire campaign together. Players of this mode can enjoy a very similar experience to that of the single player campaign, with only ammo scarcity and some technical hiccups to worry about. Multiple times, an automatic save would place a checkpoint when one or both of us were in a bugged location. On one occasion, my partner fell onto a rock at the top of some cliffs, was unable to climb back up, and was left with the only remaining option being suicide via a very large drop into a ravine. After both dying to remedy the situation, the checkpoint loaded and placed my partner in the same position. This happened a number of times throughout our co-op campaign.
There are other co-op modes available in the game such as Overwatch and Survival. Overwatch has one player acting as a spotter and the other taking the role of sniper. It offers a nice change of pace from the campaign, but typically you’ll find the spotter lacking patience and running around in close quarters. There are other times you’ll be paired with a trigger-happy sniper that blows your cover in the first 90 seconds. Survival is a four player co-op mode that challenges the team to survive increasingly difficulty waves of enemies in small environments.[columns count=’2′] [column_item]The competitive multiplayer elements are about as fun as you would expect them to be. Two teams of players consisting entirely of people that purchased a game based around sniping. My first match had eight players, four on each team, and I was in the match moving between buildings for over seven minutes before encountering a single enemy player. It’s not so much the fault of the developers as there’s different game modes that encourage more movement and close quarter skirmishes but for the most part, it’s 10 people sitting on top of buildings looking to kill that one guy that has the courage, or stupidity, to walk around on ground level first. That’s not to say there isn’t some enjoyment to come from a battle of the wits as sniper against sniper test their abilities in a fight to the death but when a 20 minute match ends with six kills, that says a lot.[/column_item] [column_item] [quote style=’1′ cite=” title=”]The competitive multiplayer elements are about as fun as you would expect them to be. Two teams of players consisting entirely of people that purchased a game based around sniping.[/quote] [/column_item] [/columns]
The main campaign and co-op mode are the bulk of what Sniper Elite 4 has to offer. Its eight varied missions, each filled with multiple collectibles and challenging sub-objectives, each offer a great level of replay value for you and a buddy. Paired with some custom difficulty settings, and players can seriously crank up the adrenaline in this title. A lack of depth in character progression and weapon variety, coupled with a stagnant and unimaginative competitive multiplayer element hold the game back, but it’s still one of the best entries in the series so far.