Sniper Elite 4 PS4 Review
Publisher: Rebellion Developer: Rebellion Genre: Stealth/Action Players: 1-8 Age Rating: 18+
Other console/handheld formats: Xbox One
The third Sniper Elite game’s headline feature was definitely the larger and more open levels when compared to previous games in the series. When it comes to the newly released fourth game in the World War II sniper series, it turns out that its even larger levels are the stars of the show, so both the third and fourth Sniper Elite games have their levels in common as major selling points, this fourth game even more so than the last.
The eight levels featured in Sniper Elite 4 are distinct, with each feeling different from the last. This time around the game takes place in Italy in 1943, and the largest and most open levels ever featured in a Sniper Elite game include dense forests, craggy hills, cobbled streets, beautiful coastal sights, colourful buildings, Nazi fortresses, and more. While the game is in no way a true open world stealth game, each level is certainly large enough to give you plenty of options as to how to approach it, and it’s always up to you as to what order that you face the different objectives in. If you keep failing at something in particular, there’s always plenty of scope to try to tackle it in an entirely different way, and each level will take you between 1 and 2 hours to complete.
You can now climb up certain points as well as hang and shimmy, which makes traversing the levels more varied, and also opening up more gameplay options to you. There’s also more to the stealth this time around, with enemies better triangulating your position and moving towards you when you fire off a loud shot or are spotted on the job, and also more helpful information being fed to you by the on-screen radar. The binoculars also make their return allowing you to plan your move as well as to spot and tag enemies in order to better keep track of them and find out what sort of items they are carrying, and this time around enemies even have mini bios which can be read when focusing the binoculars on them, adding a little personality to your potential victims.
The AI is better than it was in the previous game with them boasting sharper intelligence and awareness, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement. Enemies can still act pretty dim at times and their lack of intellect can sometimes be exploited to your advantage, and on occasion I have even seen them stupidly running against walls. They’re still a vicious bunch, however, who will quickly cut you down in a hail of bullets if you attempt to play the game as an ordinary third person shooter.
Upping the difficulty above normal also drastically alters the challenge of the game. The enemies have additional awareness on hard and hardcore difficulties, and the difficulty of the game also determines how authentic the sniping is. Hardcore definitely lives up to its title, with helpful on-screen information such as the radar suddenly becoming absent, and the map doesn’t even reveal to you as to where your mission objectives are. With all of this said, hardcore is definitely only intended for the brave amongst us.
The sniping is once again excellent and, when things go according to plan and you manage to pull off the perfect shot, there are plenty of reasons to feel satisfied. The x-ray camera shots also make their bloody return, with sniper kills sometimes resulting in the camera following the path of the bullet as it angrily rips through flesh as well as the insides of enemies. It’s a violent game without a doubt, but it still remains oddly satisfying to fire off a bullet and then to be given a violently over the top visual indication as to where it has ended up. It’s a pleasure then, albeit a guilty one. If you are squeamish or eating your tea, then there’s an option to turn the x-ray camera off entirely.
The game also introduces suppressed ammo for your rifle, which allows you to make use of the sniper’s weapon of choice more often. If you choose, you can purchase and begin each level with limited suppressed ammo, and you also may come across some in a mission. Suppressed ammo means that you are able to silently dispatch your enemies with your rifle, and you don’t have to wait for loud sounds in the environment in order to mask the sound of your shot in the same way that you did in Sniper Elite 3, although such sound masking still remains an option to you.
It’s not all about the sniping of course. You are still able to get up close and personal with your enemies, making use of weapons such as pistols, machine guns, shotguns and rifles, as well as some vicious melee attacks, which now include the x-ray camera. When not looking through the scope of a rifle, the game feels a lot more like a traditional stealth game and, again, this is more proof of the amount of options that the game gives you to play with. It’s even possible to set traps for enemies, and to even booby trap corpses with explosives.
You can also unlock upgrades for your weapons with accomplishing various tasks. These tasks include everything from killing a certain number of enemies from a specific distance, getting a required amount of multi-kills, headshots, ricochet kills or kills from above, and so on. Upgrades include increasing the damage, zoom and muzzle velocity of the rifle. Others include accuracy and range upgrades for automatic weapons and pistols, and all of these upgrade unlocks certainly encourage you to play the game in different ways and, if you are aiming to unlock every improvement for every single weapon, it also adds to the longevity of the game.
Sniper Elite has yet to tell a great story. The characters and narrative are once again rather dull, and I do have to wonder as to why Rebellion keep bringing back American OSS agent Kyle Fairburne time and time again, as he really is a blank slate with zero personality. There’s very little to care about in the story, and it really is just forgettable and throwaway, although at least it gives you some purpose if nothing else. Developer Rebellion have attempted to add some depth to the world with placing letters around each level for you to find and read, which is something.
Multiplayer once again makes its returns, and there’s certainly a pleasing amount of options. Firstly, the entire campaign can be played cooperatively with another player, and other cooperative options include a Horde-like survival mode as well as a spotter mode. As for competitive multiplayer, we have the return of unique modes such as Distance King and No Cross as well as the likes of Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch along with a traditional control mode. Based around sniping in the way it is, Sniper Elite’s multiplayer still manages to remain relatively fresh. It’s something a little bit different from the norm, but it’s also good fun, and made even more so by the larger levels.
Sniper Elite 4 is a sequel that sensibly took what made the third game so good and then expanded upon it. The sizeable and open levels are bigger than they have ever been, and there’s so much variation in both the level design as well as the many options for gameplay, which includes some new environmental traversal actions. The AI and story could still do with some work in a fifth game, but this is one series that continues to get bigger and better with each new release.