The fifth instalment in Rebellion's sniper series is here, and we've been checking it out ahead of its imminent launch.
The rumbling roar of anti-aircraft fire silences all noise in the night. At the same time, German soldiers fall one by one on the horizon. With a pair of binoculars you have found your targets and with the help of your faithful rifle you make the enemy fall like a house of cards, during a windy autumn night. Sniper Elite is a series with roots dating back to 2005. You take on the role of Karl Fairburne, a German-born sniper, commando, one-man army and saboteur for the American army. The first thing that strikes you is that the dunes from the third and the adorable landscapes of Italy from the fourth game - are gone. This time we have landed in France during the prelude to Operation Overlord. The Allies are determined to invade Normandy and your first mission is to begin securing the coast for the invasion.
You heard right: you, your binoculars and a submarine are all that is needed to win the war. This is about where I stop thinking so much about what is being said, and treat it like a great, big, dumb action movie. In a nutshell, the series continues the trend with secret projects and the "wonder weapon" that would turn the tide of war for the Axis powers. Your job is to unravel this and sabotage the plans. As a commando, you are an expert in many forms of warfare, even if longer ranges hold your specific expertise.
Nothing has changed in this fifth iteration. I have appreciated all the entries in this series since 2005. The more open levels are an important element and add a lot. Nowadays, they are more varied and more fun to navigate than before. Thanks to the scale of the levels, the variation in assignments and approaches is also better. The map contains side quests you discover by exploring and finding documents, which can be about killing an officer or sabotaging anti-aircraft guns.
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Whether you like to use rifles, pistols or machine guns, there is a good set of weapons you can modify. The weapons also sound good even if they lack a little recoil and proper heft. In addition to this, you have access to medicine packages, mines and grenades. The variety is good and I can see how players can use almost all the ingredients on different occasions. However, I discovered quite quickly how effective sneaking is with a silenced gun. With that said, all aspects from the past such as ballistics are affected by weather, gravity and distance. You have every opportunity to use the sniper weapons and their various forms of ammunition to complete the levels. If you are experienced, you can tailor the entire level of difficulty with a whole list of options for the best possible experience.
After each mission, you also get an idea of which player you are. The statistics of your results are placed in a four-way chart depicting the way you approached the level, be it aggressively, or as silently as a spectre. It gives a clear picture of how you play, as even though it is a game about sniping, you do not always have to kill someone. You can easily neutralise soldiers with a blow to the head. Sometimes it's better than lethal action as they create louder sounds. Other options like using the environment to reduce or create sound are back, and to this end, you know exactly what you are getting and what you are not getting with this fifth instalment.
The biggest new feature centres around invasions by other players in your campaign, and that may shake up the experience completely, for some. My opinion on the game mode is neutral, despite the possibility of extra excitement. You can turn off the game mode unlike other games with these modes if you do not want to face this added challenge.
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The story takes the back seat approach here, the graphics are pretty ugly and the voice acting a bit uneven. It's fun to ambush enemies though, manipulating the AI is great fun, and taking fantastic long-range shots with X-Ray effects and seeing Nazi skulls explode, will never not be fun and rewarding - even after five full games of the exact same stuff.
It's a shame that Sniper Elite 5 does not offer us a more vibrant gaming world and stronger story. I would have appreciated if characters or goals evolved more. Likewise, better movement options providing more ways for the player to adapt to changing circumstances would've been a great addition for this game for sure. Both co-op and multiplayer are good elements, and it's also fun to test your skills in the wave-based survival mode.
Sniper Elite 5 is a good action-packed game presented in a way that is enjoyable in moderation. It is more polished than its predecessors without major changes. The formula does not contain any major new ingredients but chooses to strengthen existing ones. I like this niche form of shooting game and am not disappointed despite my criticism. If you are interested in long-distance shooting and at the same time want to travel on a trip to France, then you can save a significant amount of money, and let this be your alternative over the summer.
7 / 10
Still very fun to play. The few new features are welcome additions. Shooting systems are still top-notch.
Graphics are ugly. Lacks significant innovation. Voice acting isn't great.