The Sniper Elite series is an interesting one. The series has developed something of a cult following over the years. Whilst the franchise may not often get mentioned when discussing the prestige war-shooters, the games in the series have all been pretty solid. Having played Sniper Elite 5 for review, I can report that it too is a solid entry in the underrated franchise.
Sniper Elite 5 takes things up a notch from previous entries. However, it doesn’t quite manage to do enough new and unique things to set it apart from other games in the series. As a result, the fifth Sniper Elite game feels more like an incremental upgrade to Sniper Elite 4 than it does a fresh, new entry.
Story: Vive la France!
As is the case with most of the Sniper Elite games, the story in Sniper Elite 5 is not the most original or gripping in the medium of video games. The most interesting aspects of the story are the period and setting in which the game takes place.
Sniper Elite 5 takes place in May of 1944, meaning that WWII is beginning to wind down, as it was only the following year that the war ended. As one may expect, fighting across France during this period means fighting alongside members of the French resistance.
These freedom fighters ultimately amount to little more than tertiary, background characters. Instead, the game puts the focus solely on our protagonist; Karl Fairburne. Tom Clarke Hill returns to voice the series’ protagonist with a dry wit and a signature sense of calm focus.
The other voice-over work in the game is also up to a high standard. There are a few exaggerated accents amongst the cast, but overall it works for the tone that the game captures. I also caught a Die-Hard reference during the game’s first mission that made me grin.
Another small, but effective touch I noticed was the specific date on which the game begins. If you play Sniper Elite 5 upon release, you will be fighting across France on the same dates that Karl Fairburne is, just a mere 78 years later.
Gameplay: Free-Flowing Death
The most notable change in terms of gameplay in this entry the increased movement capabilities that Karl possesses. No longer does Karl feel blocky or wooden in his movement. Instead, he feels free-flowing and tight, meaning that players should get stuck or backed into a corner far less often. I was glad to see that this long-standing issue has been reviewed and addressed in Sniper Elite 5.
The actual sniping feels almost identical to how it did in Sniper Elite 4. With that said, I did have to significantly reduce my aim sensitivity within the first minutes of sniping. However, this will come down to the player’s personal preference.
I should also specify that I played this title on both PS4 and PS5 and the sniping was the one area where I noticed a major difference between the two versions. The resistance felt when aiming and firing with the triggers on the PS5 controller, along with the haptic feedback helped elevate my experience.
My favourite thing about Sniper Elite 5’s gameplay is how powerful it allows the player to feel. Even on the harder difficulties, if you can time your attacks and land most of your shots, Karl feels like a capable one-man-army.
When the game’s powerful sniping mechanics are paired with an enhanced sense of movement, it emboldens the player to feel like an efficient killing machine. Instead of shooting to survive, or even to complete the mission, there were several times that Sniper Elite 5 made me feel more like a fully-fledged Nazi hunter.
This new sense of power is particularly evident when you combine Karl’s enhanced speed and fluid movement with the game’s close-combat execution animations. Karl pulls off some kills in this game that even The Predator could be proud of.
The skill tree is also well implemented and the way that you choose to spend your skill points will affect how you tackle missions as you progress through the game. This clear sense of growth isn’t something I have particularly noticed in any of the previous Sniper Elite games.
Unfortunately, there are also a few negative aspects of Sniper Elite 5’s gameplay. The most notable of these negatives is the repetition found within the gameplay. After a while, certain objectives begin to repeat themselves within the game’s different levels.
This sense of repetition leads to the game’s levels feeling more like checklists that need ticking off. The repetitive nature of those tasks also takes away from the game’s pace and makes it feel much more formulaic.
The other major negative is the enemy AI within the game. Once you are spotted, Nazis will fire upon you until you are forced to run away. They will then chase you into whichever room you decide to take shelter in. Once there, they will enter the room one by one, turning the doorframe into a convenient bottleneck for you to pick them off one by one.
Sadly, I cannot comment on the game’s multiplayer features. As I played through the game before release, there were simply no players online whenever I searched for an online game.
Audio and Graphics: The Art of War
Whilst the quality of Sniper Elite 5’s character models isn’t going to blow anyone away, the overall visual presentation of the game is decent. Particle effects look nice whenever they are onscreen and the water throughout the game looks realistic.
With that said, I did notice a few technical glitches during my time with the game. There were a few areas with glitched lighting, making shadows look odd. A few dead enemies also clipped through walls and other parts of the environment after I shot them.
There were also a few instances of soldiers appearing on the mini-map, but being invisible within the 3D environment. However, as mentioned above I played Sniper Elite 5 for review before the game released and prior to the day one patch which will be available for the game upon launch.
The star of the show on a visual level is undoubtedly the 3D kill-cam. Although the kill-cam has always been an iconic aspect of this franchise, it has been significantly upgraded for this new entry. Players can now spin the camera around the fired bullet as it whizzes through the air, (and through Nazi skulls).
Players can also adjust the speed of the slow-motion kill-cam. This means that you can really draw out that glorious headshot that you were able to pull off and relish in the joy of a Nazi’s brains exploding.
The audio in the game is solid. The environmental sound effects become an effective tool when stealthily traversing a new location. The musical score is also effective in helping to place players in the specific time period of WWII.
This game was reviewed on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, with a review key provided by Rebellion.