Sniper Elite 4 (Xbox One Review)
Somewhere, deep inside Sniper Elite 4 there is an allegory for 2017. The natural escalation of how to deal with Nazis and their rhetoric; with a clean entry wound as opposed to the sloppy punch delivered on national television. It’s a great game that captivates the player and takes them back to a time where we were proud to stand against Nazis. A time in which the meeting of minds between our elected leaders was a thing of hope as opposed to a near Twilight Zone farce – or an episode of Black Mirror, feel free to pick whatever show suits your dystopian future paradigm.
Sniper Elite 4 sees our hero continue onward throughout World War II after his successful campaign in Sniper Elite 3. This time his plan is to help the Italian Resistance as they stomp out the remaining Nazis in Italy during 1943. It’s a story we all know in passing, but with the adage that our protagonist was always there in the background; ensuring the safety of our allies with big bullets and bigger guns. Throughout the campaign you will work with gangsters, rebels, the Allies, and even a few locals as you help fight on the front lines. It’s not the strongest story ever, but provides a different perspective than typical WW II shooters.
As a first timer on the front lines of the Sniper Elite series, I was apprehensive of what was in store. Gameplay could be interpreted as a run and gun simulation if I really wanted to, but settling in to the beats of a sniper; picking a location and finding the perfect timing to dispatch a lead imprint in history was exhilarating. The core gameplay of Sniper Elite 4 will have players running around massive open maps, searching for advantage points and utilising the environment to mask shots with sound or ensuring that you are out of sight and out of mind by the time the enemy recognises where the shots originated. There is so much to do and working it all out requires a keen eye and patience in identifying the enemy – which can prove tricky sometimes.
Unlike our current predicament with Pepe the “frogs” are actually on our side in 1943, making it harder to identify Nazis through visible pins on their lapel. So, you’ll need Sniper Elite 4’s binoculars to help in working out who the bad guys are. Just as important as the trusty rifle on your back, the binoculars will prove vital in the success of every mission. Binoculars mark contextual kills, enemies, and most importantly identify the enemies distance allowing you, the sniper, to correctly adjust his scope and bullet drop off to ensure you land the perfect shot. Everything in Sniper Elite feels like it has a purpose, right down to your accompaniment of close range weapons, like the SMGs, pistols, and traps. Everything has a use and mastering them will help you level up and triumph in the harder difficulties should you wish to replay Sniper Elite 4.
And replay Sniper Elite 4, you shall. The missions in Sniper Elite 4 are massive, departing from what were previously tiny, insular maps. Now you are able to traverse the open countryside of Italy and bask in the scenic landscape before you hunker down in one of its best laid grassy knolls and gunning for anything with a head. The maps available truly put the previous iterations to shame with their complexity and scope. Even though they don’t quite reach the fathoming heights of Hitman’s level design they are a thing of admiration. Throughout each and every level there will be multiple approaches and plenty of small bits and pieces to mop up, extending Sniper Elite 4’s replay value drastically, while challenging you to complete missions under new pretences and adding value all the while. You can even play these levels cooperatively with a fellow sniper, teaming up to conquer The Axis as a duo.
Thanks to Sniper Elite’s 4 cooperative features you can play through the entire campaign with a friend and tackle the levels as a team. This means that looting the bodies across the map for collectibles and combing the wonderfully diverse landscapes available looking for stone eagles to destroy. Alongside there cooperative mode there is a rather generic survival mode, requiring teams of up to 4 to take on endless hordes of goosestepping minions in a bid to unlock more equipment through the level up system.
Literally everything above builds towards more levels for your character, unlocking new weapons and perks to tweak your loadouts. You won’t really see the benefit of these levels until you are very deep in to playing Sniper Elite 4, but when you do it can change the way you approach many of the various situations and large offerings of different difficulties to power through Sniper Elite 4’s massive campaign. There is even a system in which you level up the weapons in your inventory through various prerequisites to get new attachments and skins. If I am being honest, it was all a little overwhelming, but should you pick up and fall in love with Sniper Elite 4 it will add so much more to your experience.
There’s a great feeling of risk and reward to Sniper Elite 4; you can take risky shots and clear entire maps with just your sniper or you can take on a full battalion assault with a scavenged MP40. With impressive depth and more to do than any other war time shooter in current memory, I would highly recommend the game to anyone. There are a few bugs that got in my way, like some collision issues when prone and an odd binocular glitch that I cannot replicate, but they are so negligible that they will rarely get in the way of the sheer bliss that is the perfectly timed shot that rings true as you exhale and watch the bullet fly through the air with the grace and beauty of one last Glasgow kiss as it knocks a Nazi’s head clean off.
Editor’s Note: There is also an online multiplayer aspect to Sniper Elite 4, but at the time of reviewing it was not possible to find a match and we are unable to fully assess the multiplayer.