Title: Sniper Elite 4
Platform: Windows, Steam, PS4, Xbox One
Reviewed on: PS4
Genre: Stealth, 3rd Person Shooter
Players: Single player, Co Op, Multiplayer
Written by Whistler 27th February 2017
Y’know, I f***ing hate Rebellion's latest entry in the Sniper Elite series.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a perfectly serviceable title with only a few technical hiccups from time to time and offers a decent twist to the standard third person shooter formula. I hate Sniper Elite 4 because it’s such a mind numbingly bland overall package that there’s so little to say really, and that’s kryptonite to creative writers (hush up). It’s not delightfully awful, it’s not the next evolution in shooters, doesn’t push the envelope in the sandbox genre and I won’t even get any kind of satisfaction from deleting it from my PS4. Should you want the series represented on a line graph then place a dot somewhere representing 3, draw a straight line with a slight upwards deviation, that represents the progress we’ve seen in 4.
After accomplishing his mission in the deserts of North Africa, our main man and Office of Strategic Services agent Karl Fairburne is sent to the Italian countryside in search of a new weapon created by the Nazi regime.
This however is entirely window dressing for the large open levels; in fact it's better you don’t pay attention to the plot seeing as paper thin is a generous description. Sniper Elite 4’s narrative is woefully disinterested, coming in the form of flatline pre mission cutscenes failing to establish a single noteworthy character as they phone in their one or two lines of monotonous exposition. A WW2 story that attempts to throw in drama between conspiring Mafia and the tale of a female partisan forced to take up the mantle of leadership should at least be somewhat interesting.
Not one to be left behind Rebellion have shipped Sniper Elite 4 on the SS Sandbox (well, snuck aboard in the cargo bay at least), taking cues from the likes of MGSV, Just Cause 3 and several Ubisoft titles. Throughout the eight to nine hour campaign you’ll travel through a handful of decently sized sun soaked vineyards, once scenic towns, harbours, and even a seemingly impenetrable fortress. While not terribly varied visually given the setting, each map is filled to the brim with detail, complex layouts and run relatively smoothly on PS4 hardware. There’s certainly plenty of room to play around with various routes to your objectives, such as sneaking through the lush flora to get up close and personal, or perching on top of a scenic hillside to get a clear shot on your unsuspecting target.
That being said the variety added from implementing fatality-
Which often underlines the whole experience, the variety on offer still has this tiresome sameness to it. AI react the same every time, if they’re curious they’ll look around lazily, then they’ll tend to spread out more and should they go into full alert they pin themselves to the nearest cover and bop their heads up and down till they successfully catch lead in their teeth. Supposedly they react far more efficiently on harder difficulties but I noticed no change on Sniper Elite mode and they were still easily bested by luring them to the same doorway their entire platoon mysteriously vanished in.
Sniper Elite 4’s obsession with points thrown in your face grant you XP for a bland two choice skill tree and a lacklustre progression system by means of handing out currency for weapon purchases between levels. Likely to incentivize collecting the menagerie of superfluous collectables dotted around in every mission, pocket change needed for unlocking new weapons or items often feeds shorthanded. This only serves to further shed light on just how much of the weaponry is locked behind a paywall and just how lacking the overall tools on offer are. Rifles barely feel different from one another, most of the secondary firearms feel criminally lacking and I never needed anything more than the starting pistol for my close quarters needs.
If there’s anything that is Sniper Elite 4’s saving grace from a completely sterile concoction it would be the ability to play with a friend for the entire campaign. Jolly cooperation adds its own layers of depth with equal amounts of timing and complications thrown into the mix and my personal favourites are the Overwatch levels. An asymmetrical mode where one player takes the role of the sniper in an elevated area while the other is the operative on the ground, responsible for tagging targets and getting deep in amongst the enemy troops. Alas there is all but two Overwatch maps so it’s a fleeting moment of enjoyment amongst the underwhelming modes on offer such as a tedious survival mode and some competitive options.
Sniper Elite 4 still delivers a solid sniper experience, but the increased scope leaves it falling flat on its face which is made all the more noticeable from its inherent issues. It's certainly improved from its predecessor in subtle terms but SE4 still outstays its welcome and there’s only so much bland one flavour paste I’m willing to consume. A perfectly serviceable shooter but it's as generic as you’re going to get, killing virtual Nazis is only a mere step away from zombies, and that’s game design shorthand for out of ideas.
Open ended maps allow for creative sniping gameplay,
Enjoyable Co Op mode,
Colourful level design while not killing the framerate.
Painfully dull storyline,
Unremarkable characters coupled with bad voice acting,
Unimaginative objectives and a anticlimactic finish,
Lacks meaningful variety.
Sniper Elite 4 scores a 6.5/10.