I am normally not a fan of military shooters, so when Sniper Elite 4 came my way, my first reaction was not pleasant. However, after looking into the series history and the reputation it gained, I found myself at odds and wondered if I could actually like such a game.
Long story short, yes. It absolutely won me over, and there is something about Sniper Elite 4 that really hooked me. Rebellion Developments have genuinely found a way to make a game series focused on one of the quieter and more dangerous behind-the-scenes heroes of war and give you a glimpse of their strength in this profound series.
But is this a perfect military-based shooter that involves snipers and Nazis? I wouldn’t go quite that far, but let’s definitely take a look at this one. (WARNING: This review will contain some violent imagery and video, so please take caution.)
There is something about sneaking around and taking out entire military lines by yourself. Stealth military titles like Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid paved the way for such games, and the Sniper Elite series follows this rhythm really well. The dependency on the sniper rifle is definitely what sets this series apart from its predecessors, but I would be lying if I said that is the most enjoyable part of the game.
As gruesome and graphic as the Kill Cam is, it is bizarrely satisfying every single time it pops up on screen and slows your shot down. Yeah. I am starting this review right here. Seeing your bullet fly through the air and then into its destination releases the kind of serotonin that not many video games can. Slowing watching your bullet crash through a Nazi skull is great, but watching your bullet explode a pair of Nazi gonads in slow motion is a different kind of pleasure.
Using your binoculars, you are also able to highlight any enemy or interactive thing in sight, and this serves perfectly to help plan your order of attack. You can shoot a scaffolding that will drop lumber and such on unsuspecting enemies, or you can fire at an explosive barrel and leisurely watch the shrapnel tear through neighboring Nazi bastards. But if you want to play a clean sniper’s journey, then of course you can go about head-shotting every single baddie that is presented before you.
The story takes place during World War II, and you play as Karl Fairburn, who is basically the Solid Snake of the Sniper Elite series. Not only is he the definition of badass, but apparently he is incapable of dying and is able to take out entire units by himself.
The mission in Sniper Elite 4 is to head to Italy to assist the Italian resistance as they fight against the Fascists. Apparently the entire war is at stake and only Karl is willing and able to save the day once again.
Yeah. I know. The story is nothing to write home about, but I did appreciate the effort. It feels like a 1980’s over-the-top action flick starring yet another overly masculine male lead that seemingly doesn’t share any emotion whatsoever.
Between missions, there are lovely moments where you connect with allies, and this is the only time we see Karl show any signs of caring. These were the times where I connected most with the main character, but it was also the area I spent the least amount of time playing.
Each mission Karl is tasked with something impossible, but our action star and hero never turns down an opportunity to kill Nazis and ruin their plans! Whether it is shredding through dozens of Nazi soldiers in order to take out their captain or shredding through dozens of Nazi soldiers to find their plans, no matter the mission, Karl will be killing loads and loads of Nazis.
I did find the flow of the missions, however, to be quite enjoyable. Although the theme of killing Nazis is a constant, side missions gained from allies and main objectives are varied and mix up gameplay throughout Sniper Elite 4, especially when it comes to side quests like finding documents, letters, and intel from fallen enemies or hidden areas.
Shooting feels great, too. Learning to find places to mark your targets, breathe to still your aim, and snipe is truly the cornerstone of the whole experience and sets the mood for the entire game, because failing to do so will alert too many people and you will go down quickly.
Using your surroundings and taking bold shots is something that the game doesn’t directly teach you, but it hints in such a way that you feel as if you solved a complex puzzle. Things like planes flying overhead and malfunctioning machines provide enough noise to mask your shots, as long as they are timed well. Things like soundmasking allow you to make a bit more noise while still keeping your cover, which is not only great game design but an awesome experience to help you feel like you really are in the shoes of a sniper.
Something funny about the physics in Sniper Elite 4 is that Karl is insanely strong. Not only is he able to hoist enemies over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes, but he can even throw them a great distance. I mean, seriously. Have you ever lifted a limp body? This is no laughing matter, and yet Karl can do it with no problem at all and throw it like a shot put.
There are quite the few silly physics and glitches throughout the game, like dead enemies going through walls and ragdolling body parts flailing like they have a mind of their own, but honestly I never found these “problems” as anything but amusing and they never ruined my experience.
The main story takes a little more than 10 hours, but there is so much more to do here. Completionists will have a load of fun covering the map, tackling all the objectives, and 100%ing the game. The co-op adds an equal amount of hours to clear as the single player story (Since they are one and the same) and a very different experience since you need to work together. In co-op, strategies can be quite interesting, as one person can draw people out while the other snipes. It can also be disastrous for everyone if things go poorly, but thankfully the game’s checkpoint system is great.
The multiplayer, which is not included in the main download but is offered for free from the eShop as DLC, is its own kind of fun, but it lacks the same bravado the campaign and co-op supply. It is still frantic and entertaining, but I cannot guarantee the Switch will hold strong lobbies for too long. Hopefully they do, because this would be a lovely alternative to the multiplayer games currently topping the Switch charts.
Sniper Elite 4 is not without its flaws, though. I wish buildings could be more interactive, which would make the experience much more immersive, especially for situations of hiding. Considering this is a stealth title at its core, a better means of hiding from your enemies seems essential, but I found myself getting away by simply hiding behind boxes or sitting in tall grass, which aren’t the most stealthy hiding places.
Despite its flaws, mostly minor, Sniper Elite 4 is a fantastic military shooter that offers a whole lot to its fans: the story, although generic and corny at times, opens windows to scenarios that genuinely existed during World War II; the gameplay is one-of-a-kind bringing the military shooter together with the Mortal Kombat Fatal Blows, and like I said, it is satisfying every time; and finally there are numerous ways to play, whether it be solo, co-op with a friend, or competitively in 4v4 battles online.
The Switch lacks great military experiences, and although I wouldn’t say Sniper Elite 4 is realistic in its approach to sniping, it definitely does a great job introducing players to the role of a sniper and how important they are in war. For fans of the series, this is a no-brainer, but for newcomers, I see no problem starting with this one. It is where I started, and I am already playing the previous titles because of it.
Kill Cam is oddly satisfying every time
Corny yet enjoyable story
Controls are tight and excellent
Loads to do, great value
Not a lot of great places to hide for a stealth game
Occasional glitch/screen tearing
What's Your Reaction?
My name is Jason Capp. I am a husband, father, son, and brother, and I am a gamer, a writer, and a wannabe pro wrestler. It is hard to erase the smile on this simple man.