Sniper Elite 4 is the fourth mainline entry of the Sniper Elite franchise by the relatively large, self-publishing developer by the name of Rebellion. They’ve been making almost nothing but Sniper Elite games since 2012 and have had plenty of time to refine the formula and improve on the base with increased graphical fidelity and gameplay changes.
Sniper Elite 4 is available on Steam for $59.99 as well as on other gaming marketplaces for discounted prices, as of the time of writing one can pick up this title for just over $45.
Being a stealth-focused series to some extent, it’s important to introduce new aspects to the game in order to keep things fresh as it goes on, or at the very least change things up in some form. Rebellion is no stranger to this concept, so without further ado, let’s take a look at latest in sniper-stealth gameplay.
For those unfamiliar with the franchise, the gameplay of Sniper Elite has always been a stealth-focused third-person shooter. The player is dropped into a somewhat linear open area with a set objective to get to, and along the way there are various targets to dispose of with any means necessary. From silenced pistols to close quarters take-downs, there are options for any scenario. Even vehicles aren’t safe from the slaughter, of which one round to a fuel tank can end them.
Focusing on the sniping aspect, it’s naturally represented much more accurately than games like Battlefield or Call of Duty. Leading targets is the bare minimum of what’s necessary, as wind need to be taken into account, as well as bullet drop over long ranges, which varies based on the caliber of round fired. Even these aspects alone serve to add a welcome degree of realism compared to more modern military shooters, however there’s even more to it. As silencers don’t actually silence a firing weapon, using silenced rifles still has to be taken into account when trying to pick off targets, as units too close to the player will hear shots go off.
One way of working around this is sound-masking, which uses other large sounds, either generated by the environment itself or by intentionally sabotaging generators and other objects to make loud noises, allowing some agency over when targets are picked off. That said, no amount of masking will stop alarms from going off if someone else sees the head explode. Singling out units and separating them with the infinite supply of rocks comes in handy for close ranges but at a distance, it often becomes a game of patience, which is to be expected in regards to sniping.
If one should fire a weapon without properly sound-masking their rifle, the enemies in the area will get a general idea of where the player was when they fired. From there, the player can either hide or move out of the area, however continuing to fire in a similar radius from the first shot will allow the enemies to triangulate one’s position and come after them aggressively without having ever even seen the target. This promotes moving around the map and picking one’s targets intelligently as opposed to just going nuts with the rifle or silenced rounds and calling it a day. One can also be seen as well, but regardless of how they’re discovered, the player can also set a variety of anti-infantry and anti-vehicle traps that disable or destroy the unlucky souls to set foot on them.
With a fully featured stealth system, it’s fun to play around and experiment with the A.I., just as much fun as watching enemies get obliterated in gory slow-mo during the bullet time that accompanies well-placed sniper shots. From heads and jaws exploding as the bullet rips them apart, to individual organs like lungs and hearts exploding, or the inevitable testicle shots that are just as painful to watch as they sound. All these things are staples of the franchise, and rather than being new additions, they’ve simply been refined over time to be an art form in and of themselves. The only major issue being quite frankly, the A.I. is a bit too easy. During our time playing on Hard, the enemies never seemed to really react to events in a way that wasn’t immediately solvable with liberal application of high-caliber rounds. Even when breaking stealth entirely and just gunning down enemies with a rifle and SMG, the enemies never really proved themselves as constant and dangerous threats.
All that said, we must touch on the raw amount of content on display here. A fully-fledged single player campaign that took us hours to explore individual levels and complete objectives in flawless stealth, as well as offering full co-op play for the campaign and an additional four-person mode with its own separate levels and scenarios to play through. Not only that but it also has a full multiplayer mode complete with various game mode staples like team deathmatch and domination, on a variety of huge maps. It really can’t be overstated how good the value is here for the money. There’s an absolutely staggering amount of things to do, and thanks to a shared progression system for single player and multiplayer, one will always be rewarded properly regardless of what game mode one is playing.
Lastly, we have the presentation. To put it in a sentence, Sniper Elite 4 looks absolutely gorgeous. Beautiful lighting effects and accurate shadows accentuate the highly detailed textures and environments which are lush with both vegetation in the form of grass, greenery and trees, as well as smaller particle effects like dust and dirt being kicked up and floating away when diving into the prone position. It can’t be overstated in both how good the game looks as well as how it runs. Not only does it manage to look very visually impressive, it also runs extremely well. Our 1060 paired with a dated 3570K running at stock speeds had no problem chewing through the game on Ultra settings with well over 80 FPS at all times. In an age where even consoles can’t manage to hit 20 FPS in various titles and PC ports can release downright broken and non-functional, Sniper Elite 4 stands out as a gorgeous looker of a game that runs like an absolute dream.
In conclusion, Sniper Elite 4 is a very fun and enjoyable stealth third-person shooter, as long as the player is willing to approach it that way. Crank up the difficulty to Hard or higher and enjoy picking off heads in a brutally gory fashion over a wide range of arenas. Whether one prefers online multiplayer in the form of competitive game modes or a co-op campaign, or if a more story-focused and paced single player experience is what you’re looking for, there’s an unbelievable amount of content included in the package. Sure, it’s a bit easy and the multiplayer is already suffering from dropping player counts, but the game itself is incredibly fun and manages to look beautiful and run well to boot. If one can get past the previously mentioned issues, all that’s left is nitpicks, as developer Rebellion did what they do best – iterated on their best work and improved it in practically every way.
You can also check out an in-depth look at this hot new title, feel free to read it in addition to our article.
|+ It not only looks gorgeous but runs very well, featuring dense vegetation and high quality effects that ran over 80 FPS at all times on our rig.||– The A.I. can vary from sharp as an eagle to downright oblivious to things going on no less than two feet from them.|
|+ An absolute wealth of content, including a lengthy single player or coop campaign, a separate four-person coop mode and fully featured multiplayer.||– Multiplayer is not very engaging depending on the game mode, and the community is fairly small, which is worrying.|
|+ Lots of gameplay variety in how a player can tackle any objective in the game, instanced open areas allow for a variety of approaches to situations.||– Some U.I. elements and menus are a little clunky, not a big deal but something that should probably be fixed four entries into the series.|