Sniper Elite 4 by Rebellion Developments is the sequel to Sniper Elite 3 and the 4th entry in the main series. This game was released on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox one in February of 2017. Sniper Elite 4 takes place in Italy in 1943 during World War 2. To this game takes place directly after the events of Sniper Elite 3. You continue the story of Karl Fairborn who is an Officer of Strategic Service agent. You are tasked with helping the Italian resistance with fighting and defeating NAZI Germany. Along the way you meet new characters and allies that assist you in your mission. They also provide you with side missions to complete along with the main campaign mission.
Speaking about the campaign let’s go over what makes the game a game, the game-play. The core game-play revolves around you playing as Karl Fairborn from a 3rd person perspective. Each level or map in this case Karl is tasked with either eliminating a target, finding documents, helping Allies or a combination of all of them. One level has you tasked with destroying a railway gun and trying to locate a downed pilot all within the same map/level.
You’re outfitted with a load out that you set up before you go into each mission. You’re allowed to take a sniper rifle, a secondary weapon and a pistol. Along with the three weapons you take with you, you can also take in different types of equipment with you on the mission. These different types of equipment include silenced ammo, mines of different variants from anti-tank mines or anti personal mines and health packs. You’re able to take two of each item with you until you’re level 30 where you can take up to 3 of one item if you select the appropriate perk.
This is all you’re allowed to take with you into the mission. Throughout the mission you will be able to loot dead soldiers you kill and take items off of them to keep your ammo, traps and health packs replenished.
With Sniper Elite 4 there is improved AI and also improved AI detection system in the game. It’s based on triangulation and requires the AI to actually “find” you. To be fair I did not really notice much of a difference from previous Sniper games in terms of the AI finding my location as I try to play as stealthy as possible. They did seem to act a bit more natural in some instances and in others they would run 1 right after the other to place they saw me last and made it extremely easy to lay traps and pick them off one by one. I’d say the AI is improved, to an extent.
The x-ray camera system returns to show bullets penetrating and breaking bones and other internal organs. This returns from Sniper Elite 3 but is much better refined and still is exciting as ever to watch. In previous games I always ended up skipping the camera after the second or third kill on a mission but with this one I’m watching almost every kill.
In the game on harder difficulties you have to compensate for gravity and wind while lining up your long range shots. With Sniper Elite 4 it’s now easier to compensate for gravity with the added ability to zero the sights for different distances. This adds a layer of control that was missing from previous Sniper games and was sorely needed.
Overall the game play is a decent improvement over the previous games with the main improvements being the ability to zero your rifle and improved AI detection system.
The maps/levels of which there are 8 of are quite large, the largest of any of the previous Sniper games and are quite beautiful to look at with things to notice off in the distance. Now each of the 8 campaign missions is its own map. You arrive at each location and this is where you begin the level, each level has its own unique location from where you start. Once you get there usually by means of a cut scene explaining how you actually got there you are free to do the missions in any order you like, as long as you do the main story mission last. This is because after you finish the main story mission for that level you can’t go back and finish any side missions you may have wanted to accomplish.
This caused me to reload a couple of checkpoints because I had inadvertently finished the level on accident. Outside of this though you’re free to do the side missions in any order you please.
It’s quite refreshing that this series finally gives you freedom to complete things how you see fit, or how they best fit to your play style. If you want to be a sneak sniper and stay as undetected as possible, that’s a valid option. If you want to get some bigger guns and hold up in a tower you can do that, not for long mind you, but you can kill a good number of enemies from a perch with the right weapons and traps. This best part is the map lets you do this, it won’t punish you for playing how you like and that is something I’m quite happy to see in a sniper game. The only downside of these large level/missions is that there are only 8 of them and while you can replay them for the collectibles or at harder difficulty levels, 8 levels aren’t that many. I can only hope more campaign missions are added in DLC at the very least.
There is also a couple other game modes I want to touch as they are a bit more relevant to the longevity of the game on a whole. The first and most basic game mode is the multiplayer VS mode that includes all your standard game modes, Team Deathmach, Deathmatch and capture and holds the point.
I played these a bit mostly the deathmatch modes and while it was nice to attempt to shoot the bad guy it was severely hampered by the confines of the game and servers. The main draw of this game is to be a sniper, against all odds killing targets from miles away in hopefully a sneaky way. However in multiplayer this is thrown out the window and turns into one of two experiences. The first one consists of everyone hiding on opposite parts of the map that are large, but are cookie cut out of the main campaign maps with invisible walls stopping you from going outside of where you’re supposed to go. This in turn creates a very slow and somewhat boring experience because many times you will be laying prone on the ground for 10 min waiting to hopefully see another person in your field of view to attempt to kill them in order to help your team or get ahead. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I think this is a bad multiplayer game. I think that the deathmatch and team deathmatch mode are not the best for a sniper game.
There is a mode that I felt was a lot more fun though and that was the survive mode. Up to 4 players team up to defend moving positions around the map against waves of infantry and tanks. This is where the game was more enjoyable while playing with other players and there was teamwork the fit more in line with the spirit of the game. You team up with friends to defend a weapons crate placed at pre determined on the map that move every 3 rounds.
You are able to place traps to block doors to keep enemies out of the area the crate is. At higher waves planning is imperative as running guns a blazing into a situation is a sure fire way to get yourself and your team killed. There is also a down system where you can get your teammates back up, however you can’t move while you’re downed so make sure you go down in a place your teammate can get to you and revive you safely. Now while I found this mode the most enjoyable of the online modes minus the co-op campaign there was a huge glaring problem with it that ruined the overall excitement for the game mode. There are only 3 maps for it, I repeat, 3 maps that you can play survival on. This is a huge problem because the waves or positions of the supply crates don’t change. So once you defeat the level on the highest level of difficulty you want to use there is nothing more. Replaying it 15 times won’t get you new enemies or different tanks to attack you, it’s all predetermined. This ruins the replay value of the game mode to me. I can only hope they add more via DLC as it’s a very enjoyable mode that I wish had more locations.
Now a topic that has been touched upon a few times throughout this review and that is DLC for this game. This is my biggest complaint and criticism about the game as well; how the developers decided to handle the both pre-release DLC and the seeming need for DLC to make the game feel complete.
Let’s first start out with how the day one DLC was handled. As you can see below there are weapons that were in the game on day one, they shipped with the game, their model were in the game and the guns were fully functional in the shooting range.
Now that might sound fine as you can try out the guns before you drop money on them but there was a major flaw with this. You could not buy the guns at all. There was no way to purchase them or acquire them for 2 weeks. Alongside with no explanation on why this was the case multiple responses by developers in the Steam forms indicated they had no idea when they would be purchasable. This I felt was a huge slap to the face and extremely anti -consumer. The content was clearly finished and shipped with the game; it should have been acquirable from day one.
The rest of the DLC feels very piece meal like, 3 multiplayer and co-op characters for $5.99. They have $4.99 Camouflage rifle skin pack that luckily came with pre-ordering from a consumer perspective but still that’s a ton of money for a reskin that adds no game-play value. Many consumers and critics feel that DLC should be cosmetic and then that is acceptable in terms of DLC but I’m still not sold on that principle. Weapons and missions I can understand being sold after because many of them may not be modeled or completed until long after the game has shipped but for this specific instance where the weapons were already in the game this is inexcusable.
I have to say that I quite enjoy the setting, game play and overall experience of the game. You feel like a sniper and the game makes you feel powerful as you progress and take on new challenges. From purely a video game experience I find it extremely enjoyable game and I would recommend it those of you that enjoy slow tactical sniper games set in World War II. With that said however, the way the developers handled the DLC on day one and the manner in which they have released DLC for previous games in the Sniper Elite series I would strongly suggest holding off until there is a sale and more DLC is released to better flesh out the other modes and add some replayablity to the game modes along with more survival maps.