Sniper enthusiasts have a few busy months ahead of them. Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 is finally on the horizon, and Sniper Elite 4 has just been released. It’s out for PS4, Xbox One and PC – we played the mouse and keyboard version this time.
Those familiar with Rebellion’s Sniper franchise will find few surprises here – especially if you’re playing on PC. On consoles, you’re likely to experience a technical leap forward, but for PC gamers Sniper Elite 3 already delivered a technically excellent product – so a fresh coat of paint is what you’re getting here.
It’s a nice layer of paint though, as part 4 in the series takes Karl Fairburne to new locations to fight familiar foes. Most of the action in Rebellion’s latest takes place in and around the Italian countryside, which makes for lush and more diverse environments than Sniper Elite 3’s north African setting. Resistance fighters also add character to the game, in addition to offering you opportunities to take on extra missions and challenges.
Despite the change in scenery, you’re of course still battling fascism one sniper kill at a time, and there is a new German bad guy to chase after as well. Aside from your main goals in each mission, Rebellion has also added a neat little touch that adds a bit of an emotional layer to the game: the ability to find out a few personal details about enemy soldiers. You can expose them as sadistic fiends, but might also find out they’d much rather just be with their families. It’s a small touch, but it adds a dimension of complexity to your decisions of who to kill and who to spare.
Other than that, gameplay is very similar to what we previously saw in Sniper Elite. This isn’t a sniper simulation that tries to mimic reality – you’re often not carefully plotting your best strategy, studying enemy movements and assessing escape routes here. There is some room to do such things in Sniper Elite games, but it’s a much more action-oriented title than newcomers might expect. There is even an arcade-like flavor to the presentation with Rebellion’s now-familiar ‘kill cam’ which shows you close up where your shot hits enemy soldiers – right down to which bone and organ you’re perforating.
Sniper Elite has always been about lining up a good shot and taking it, and having plenty of wiggle room to get away with a less-than-perfect preparation. This is very welcoming to those who enjoy sniper missions in the average Call of Duty title and couldn’t care less about the plotting and calculating that comes with actual sniping. As such, Sniper Elite is high on fun and low on simulation – and that’s a perfectly fine approach for a videogame.
The game is also not confined to long range sniping – you can also wield a ‘regular’ gun or go in for melee/knife kills if you prefer or if the situation demands it. There is quite a bit of freedom in how you approach your objectives, and even the more scripted missions aren’t as ‘on rails’ as what you’d see in a Call of Duty title. For the most part that’s great, but at times I wished there were more dramatic turns of events in the game. Perhaps we’ll see that in the future, because Rebellion’s Sniper series is known for getting plenty of post-release DLC and we doubt that part 4 will be an exception to that rule.
If you enjoyed Sniper Elite 3, then you’ll definitely enjoy Sniper Elite 4. It may not add a lot of new elements besides the game’s setting, but Rebellion also made sure to keep everything intact that made part 3 such a fun and well-polished game. In a way we’re glad that they stuck with the WW 2 theme as well, since the upcoming Ghost Warrior 3 will feature a lot more modern technology to aid you. We’re looking forward to that, but are more than happy with Sniper Elite 4’s extremely polished WW 2-approach – even if it’s not groundbreaking.