By: Gentleman Jeb
WWII shooters used to be all the rage, but an overabundance of them caused gamers to tire of the era, and thus the modern military shooter took center stage. Fast-forward to today, and most core gamers have grown weary of modern shooters. Fortunately, Rebellion is trying to bring WWII shooters back with their stealthy Sniper Elite series. Their latest iteration, titled Sniper Elite 4, is a high caliber game that delivers most of what I expected, and little that I didn’t.
Set after the events in Sniper Elite 3, the story follows elite marksman Karl Fairburne as he traverses the cities and countryside of Italy during WWII. In addition to blowing up vital German assets and eliminating Nazi officers, Karl searches for Italian resistance fighters to aid his cause. I really like how there are numerous optional side missions to undertake, but I’m not crazy about the fact that the mission to assassinate the ultimate target, Adolf Hitler, is paid DLC for anyone who didn’t pre-order the game. It was free DLC in the last game, but it costs $10 in Sniper Elite 4.
This game features several small additions and upgrades, but the most noticeable improvement is the size and structure of the levels. They’re freakin gigantic! Even the smallest one is three times the size of what’s found in previous games. Every level is an open sandbox filled with a variety of side missions that run the gamut of finding valuable intel to blowing up Nazi vehicles to killing more officers! As if that isn’t enough, there are plenty of collectibles hidden throughout each one.
I’m sure that having humongous levels seemed like a good idea, but in practice they’re simply too large. When I play games I feel compelled to complete all side missions, and doing so in Sniper Elite 4 can make each level take over two hours! Playing the same level for so long brings on monotony, so I rarely finished a level in one seating. In addition to over-sized levels, there simply too many enemies to dispatch for anyone trying to remain stealthy for an entire mission.
Nevertheless, there are still plenty of opportunities for rewarding gameplay when sniping and when running and gunning. Just like the movie, Enemy at the Gates, there’s nothing quite like setting up the perfect long-distance shot and then silently taking out an officer without being discovered. It’s even better when I’m able to take out several surrounding enemies without being spotted. Of course, causing havoc and running around shooting enemies with a sub-machine gun and blowing up cars to distract and/or kill enemies is also a lot of fun!
Many players won’t notice the more subtle changes and improvements, but they definitely enhance the experience. For starters, there’s no limit to the number of enemies, vehicles, and explosives that can be spotted, so I spot everything because it will eventually become useful. I also like how engines that are kicked will backfire indefinitely or until they’re repaired unlike past games where they had a time limit. Backfiring engines are unparalleled for sound-masking sniper shots, so the longer they make loud noises, the better.
Another great addition is the ability to zero in (change distance) with the scope. Zeroing in on a target means players don’t have to adjust as much for bullet drop. For example, if a target is 214 feet away, simply zero the scope to 200 feet and the bullet drop is much less than if it was left to the standard of “0” feet. It might not mean much in most modes, but it sure makes estimating the bullet drop easier when I don’t have focus time.
Online multiplayer is hit and miss in this game, mostly due to other players or a lack thereof. Hardly anyone plays the adversarial modes because, lets face it, who wants to play a game with ALL snipers. Having too many snipers on a team is the biggest gripe found in most FPSs. On the other hand, playing the cooperative modes is a lot of fun! I love how the same level in 2-player coop can offer a different experience every time, and this mostly depends on the players. Both players can sneak around and take out enemies silently, both can run and gun, or each one can do their own thing. During one game, I skulked around in the shandows and silently took out enemies while my teammate was running around loudly blasting enemies and setting off explosives.
Featuring numerous minor improvements and a few major changes, Sniper Elite 4 emerges as a solid entry in the series. Sniper fans will love the…ahem…scope of each level as well as the numerous contextual takedowns and increased mission variety. Sure this game have missed some of it’s potential, but it’s still the best WWII sniper experience available.