The Sniper Elite series has become synonymous with the novelty of seeing your bullet launch from your rifle and penetrate organs and dismantle bones in gruesome fashion. While the feature remains and has been expanded in Sniper Elite 4, the core gameplay is better than it ever has been to the point that even without the much-loved x-ray kill cam, the game would still be an enjoyable stealth and sniper title. Still, the x-ray cam is here and it’s glorious.
Sniper Elite has always been close to being something special. While the x-ray camera has always garnered attention, it’s been hampered by less than stellar gameplay. Sniper Elites 4 feels like the culmination of many years and a few iterations and they have no finally reached the heights they’ve always been trying to reach. Playing Sniper Elites 4 is as enjoyable to play as some of the features are to watch.
Sniper Elite 4 brings with it maps that are far larger than any other seen in the series before. Not only that but they are far more varied and an absolute treat to explore. There may be only eight throughout the game but each one are huge and have plenty of objectives to carry out. In many ways, it encompasses some of the best elements of the most recent Hitman game where each level can feel instantly replayable, even if there is a narrative thread linking from one level to the next.
There are plenty of reasons to keep returning to levels including side objectives, as well as a leveling system that allows players to equip different perks to enhance certain features. The freedom of the gameplay means you can approach the same mission multiple times in different ways and still feel completely fresh.
The star of the show is still the x-ray cam which has been enhanced once again to include new organs as well as more internal details to make every x-ray kill feel even more impactful and beautifully disgusting. When you press the trigger and the slow-motion kicks in you can sit back, relax, and simply enjoy the blood ballet that unfolds in front of you on the screen.
What’s most surprising, especially if you’ve played previous Sniper Elite titles, is that the gameplay outside the sniping has been much improved to the extent that it’s quite enjoyable to actually play. The stealth itself has become a genuine and enjoyable approach. Before, even if you wanted to play stealthily, the gameplay felt imprecise and frustrating in some ways. Now, the protagonist feels much smoother to move around the environment and can traverse it in new ways making stealth feel like an actual choice rather than an afterthought or at least giving the illusion of it being a path to take.
The entire campaign can be played online with one other player only emphasises the fun that can be had as you scout out the enemies, strategies and try to carry it out. Having two people that can easily mess up results in frantic and ultimately hilarious scenarios.
That multiplayer mayhem and fun is ramped up to four players for the survival mode which is Sniper Elite at its most fun. While the structure is standard and we’ve seen it plenty of times before, the focus on sniping and setting traps results in some of the most satisfying gunplay experienced in some time.
Sniper Elite 4 isn’t the one-trick pony you may have once knew. It’s smarter, more dynamic, and got a lot more up its sleeve. The campaign offers great replayable missions in stunning environments that can be played with another player. That awesome gameplay also translate incredibly well to the 4-player co-op mode meaning there is a ton of things to do here and every part of it in solid. Sniper Elite has finally hit its full potential and it’s gruesome and glorious, but there’s more brain here than just in the soldiers you shoot down.