Sniper Elite 4 Review

Richard Walker

Sniper Elite 4 is an effing massive game. Famed for its open-ended level design, the series has never seen sandboxes so sprawling, developer Rebellion claiming that even Sniper Elite 4's smallest map is still three times larger than Sniper Elite 3's largest map. That's pretty impressive, but then size isn't everything, as my girlfriend keeps on telling me. Thankfully, Rebellion has filled each of SE4's maps with all manner of side missions and collectibles, ensuring that even the most expansive level is suitably engaging.

Going through Sniper Elite 4's sizeable campaign, I was expecting to encounter a dull mission; one that's not as enjoyable as the others. A weak link. And it never came: SE4 manages to keep you hooked throughout, despite a few flaws here and there, the game holds your attention in a way that Sniper Elite 3 and its forebears never quite managed. Perhaps the game's beautiful Italian vistas are just more appealing than scorching North African desert. Trees and grass beats sand every time, in my book.


Karl contemplates whether he can shoot that far.

Once again, you fill the boots of gravel-voiced crackshot Karl Fairburne, filling Nazis with holes, usually from a distant vantage point. As ever, one of the big draws in Sniper Elite 4 are the wince-inducing X-ray killcams, rewarding your fatal kill shots with grotesque, detailed cutaways of your target's insides, as their organs explode in glorious slow motion. It shouldn't be so damn enthralling to see a Nazis bollocks being shot off, but it is. It really is.

Bones splinter into fragments, ribcages break, brains get turned into sponge, hearts burst, livers get split in two, intestines splatter and kneecaps are eviscerated by your bullets. There's something horribly macabre about Sniper Elite 4's killcams, but you can't help but revel in the grim spectacle of it all, as your bullet leaves the barrel of your gun all the way to its intended target. Also, they're only Nazis, right? You're doing the world a favour by shooting them full of holes. Plus it's fun to play a video game where a bullet can travel up someone's bumhole and pop out the top of their head. What's not to like?

Forget the wonderfully gross killcams for a second, though. Is Sniper Elite 4 a better game than its predecessors? The short answer is, yes. Absolutely. Its core mechanics are tighter, the stealth system works, and the enemy AI is slightly improved. I say 'slightly' because most enemies are still dumber than a bag of hammers, rushing to your last known position and queueing up there for a consignment of high velocity lead to the cranium. However, enemy troops are capable of showing some smart behaviour, striving to rescue their comrades or attempting to flank you wherever possible.

Of course, stealth is the ideal approach in outfoxing your foes, so finding a decent vantage point from which to use your binoculars and tag enemies is vital, while using suppressed ammo or sound masking (from broken generators, cannon fire or whatever) to keep your position concealed means you can pick off the bad guys with impunity. If you're spotted, Nazi scum will close in fast, and failing to move or deal with the situation can end with you being surrounded and horribly outnumbered. It's even trickier if you're dealing with tanks and armoured vehicles too.

Fairburne has an arsenal of traps and other gear to help out, though, so if you're anything like me, you'll end up going about clearing an entire map of enemies, seeing how long you can go without being detected. Should the enemy catch wind of you – and with so many inviting red objects to blow up, it's likely to happen more often than not – blasting your way out with a machine gun, pistol or (why the hell not?) a panzerfaust are all viable options. Just don't expect it to be easy to evade the Hun once you've alerted them.

Try coordinating all of this with another player in co-op, and you've really got a challenge on your hands, especially if you're playing on one of the challenging higher difficulties, going for the myriad collectibles and additional tasks the game presents you with. Sniper Elite 4 really is enormous, and each of its eight sandbox levels offer masses of replay value, as well as ample variety and some lovely landscapes to behold. It's a far more polished game than its predecessor.

Campaign obviously isn't all there is to SE4, as Overwatch mode allows one player to fulfil the role of spotter while the other snipes, whereas Survival (Horde mode, in essence) offers up twelve waves of increasingly rock-hard co-op for 1-4 players across several maps that will keep you occupied for hours. Multiplayer too delivers standard Deathmatch free-for-all and Team Deathmatch modes, alongside Distance King and Team Distance King game types tasking you with acquiring kills from as far away as possible to rack up the greatest distance.


Mate. That's not sniping, mate.

No Cross, is a pure sniper mode, placing teams either side of an unnavigable no man's land, demanding combat from afar, while new addition Control is Sniper Elite's take on Battlefield's Conquest or Rush, as players fight to score points by capturing radios spawned randomly around the map. Multiplayer is good fun in Sniper Elite 4, but it's infinitely more enjoyable taking on the AI without the panic of running around like a headless chicken looking for a place on the map where you're not going to be immediately shot to ribbons.

The achievement list covers every one of these bases, rewarding hours sunk into the campaign gathering every collectible, mastering weapons, carrying out special kills including environmental ones like dropping crates on the heads of unsuspecting baddies, and completing every side mission and challenge. Levelling your character is persistent across all modes, so reaching level 50 shouldn't be too hard, but there are some tasks here that are incredibly tough. Like finishing the campaign on authentic difficulty with no manual saves. Ouch.

A vast improvement over preceding entries in the series, Sniper Elite 4 is the most polished, expansive and enjoyable one yet, with a hefty campaign, solid multiplayer and plenty of extra stuff on top of that. Rebellion has addressed almost all of the niggles we had with the previous game, although Karl Fairburne remains a bit bland, despite the story succeeding in being marginally more interesting. But goddamn it; the main thing that makes Sniper Elite 4 so endlessly entertaining is that shooting Nazis in the testicles never gets old.

Sniper Elite 4

A bigger and better game than its forebear, Sniper Elite 4 is ludicrously good fun, proving beyond doubt that there's infinite appeal in blasting Nazis' bits off. Scope it out.

Form widget
85%
Audio
75%

The score is a little repetitive, and when things kick off, the incessant music ramps up the sense of urgency. Voice work is decent and the squishy sound effects are great, but the soundtrack is largely forgettable.

Visuals
80%

Each sprawling sandbox is packed with detail and the vistas are beautiful. There's the occasional glitch here and there, but the massive draw distance makes up for it. Character models are a little bit waxy and the Xbox One version suffers from a minor bit of screen tearing at times.

Playability
85%

Brilliant, stupid fun packed with exploding offal and shattered bones, Sniper Elite 4's missions are expertly designed and consistently enjoyable to tackle. The sniping mechanics are tight and satisfying too, catering to players of all skills. It's hard to find fault.

Delivery
85%

A substantial, well-crafted package that provides hours upon hours of sniping action. The enemy AI isn't great, but good enough to offer a stiff challenge. Multiplayer is pretty good too, although you're unlikely to keep going back for more.

Achievements
80%

A great spread of objectives to complete across all of Sniper Elite 4's modes and a nice bit of invention mean this is a list that strikes a perfect balance between challenging and fun. Good stuff.

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