Review: Sniper Elite 4 (PS4)

Formats:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • PC

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • 4K HDR

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
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Title: Sniper Elite 4
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (30.2 GB)
Release Date: February 14, 2017
Publisher: Rebellion
Developer: Rebellion
Original MSRP: $59.99
ESRB Rating: M
PEGI: 16
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Publisher/developer Rebellion has taken a bold step out of “budget title” territory with Sniper Elite 4. Every component of the game, from the beautifully polished visuals to the intuitively crafted controls, absolutely hollers Triple-A from a mountaintop.

Featuring a ten-plus hour campaign, eight huge mini-open-world maps, and a full multiplayer suite, Sniper Elite 4 has every right to demand its premium price tag.

The quality experience offered by this game is a solid indication that Rebellion has the chops to hang with the big dogs.

Gameplay:
Your protagonist is an uninteresting, typical gravelly-voiced Ally Soldier who is hyper focused on killing Nazis. No, narrative is not this game’s strong point. He operates solo using his sniping and stealth mastery to decimate enemy forces.

Where other games in this category get caught up on giving the player freedom of approach, Sniper Elite 4 actively discourages a run-and-gun play style all the while offering suitable defense options for both close quarters combat and post-detection situations.

In this game, the freedom of approach comes by way of optional objectives and a loose order of primary ones. After trekking into the mission area, a quick look at the map can prove overwhelming.

There is so much to do with the many tools at your disposal and areas that you must infiltrate are often littered with enemies. As the subject matter and franchise history would have you guess, Sniper Elite 4 is the patient person’s stealth game.

Your loadout can be comprised of anything from grenades and mines to machine guns and silenced pistols. Alongside your trusty sniper rifle, you may choose to dedicate more slots to health recovery items depending on your play style.

… booby trap the corpses of foes you’ve downed …
There is a light metagame associated with the loadout options as I found myself deciding between more ammo for my rifle versus a lesser quantity of silenced ammo. Leveling up will also unlock skills that assist tremendously in the field.

The moment-to-moment gameplay is often slow paced but the payoff that comes from your satisfactory stealth efforts makes all of the creeping and crawling completely worthwhile. You’re forced to think creatively as you hide amongst the tall grass.

There are opportunities to create diversions with loud explosions, you can booby trap the corpses of foes you’ve downed, and the devs have succeeded in making each of the maps feel like their own, distinct character.

All of these tactics can be used independently or in conjunction with each other and they’re easier to pull off after surveying from a distance and tagging enemies or items of interest.

… shots are delightfully gruesome in their cringe worthy appeal …
The biggest gripe I have with the game comes by way of the unique checkpoint system. It can be both forgiving and unapologetic at the same time. Upon death, you never have to make up a lot of lost time but you also frequently respawn in the middle of a heated battle, after having already been detected with dozens of enemies closing in on your position and reinforcements inbound.

It can be very frustrating and difficult to overcome these situations and reloading a previous save or restarting the mission are far from elegant solutions.

Let’s get into what everybody plays the Sniper Elite series for, the gore porn x-ray kills. Every so often, after lining up the perfect shot, a pull of the right trigger will initiate a cutscene during which time slows down and the camera follows your bullet as it whizzes through the air to eviscerate the bones and internal organs of your enemy.

Extra XP is awarded for hitting vital body parts like eyeballs, kidneys, hearts and even testicles. Much like the x-ray super moves in Mortal Kombat, these shots are delightfully gruesome in their cringe worthy appeal and they never get old.

Even on the normal difficulty setting, there are many factors to consider before taking the shot. Do I have time to reload with my silenced ammo? How do I compensate for distance? When should I begin holding my breath to steady my heart rate so that my gunfire sounds are masked by the roaring engines of the planes above? These factors are amplified and amended on harder settings with wind speeds and bullet drop being added to the mix.

… solid framerate, attention to detail, and realistic lighting/shadowing …
Visuals:
The eight mission areas allow you to explore different geographic locales and the snowy mountains are as beautifully detailed as the tropics. While the visual fidelity and draw distance may not match something like Horizon Zero Dawn, Sniper Elite 4 is another game worthy of a photo mode.

The Triple-A polish is also apparent in the solid framerate, attention to detail, and realistic lighting/shadowing. Our protagonist/narrator provides the voiceover for a briefing style cutscene before and after each mission.

In accordance with the mostly realistic World War II setting, these cutscenes depict accurate real world maps and the following transition into gameplay is seamless.

Audio:
The sounds of nature and machinery provide the soundtrack for the action while instruments are heard upon detection to match the sudden change of pace in gameplay. There’s no iconic exclamation point and horn sound combination like in Metal Gear Solid but your status is communicated effectively through blaring, alarming sound effects.

Audio plays an important role within the game as well. Enemies have sensitive ears and any sound you make, be it an intentional distraction or accidental misstep, can be heard and reacted to. Sabotaged machinery or running engines can create cover sound for your shots allowing you to maintain an undetected location.

… Sniper Elite 4 solidifies the series as one of the genre’s top players …
Online/Multiplayer:
Continuing the full Triple-A experience, Sniper Elite 4 offers a complete multiplayer suite with a number of modes and a seamless online experience. The maps from the campaign are reused, bringing to the forefront the brilliance of their design and showcasing their adaptability to different game modes. The option to play the game in its entirety with a co-op partner is the cherry on top of the campaign.

While classic deathmatches are available, the most notable multiplayer mode is Distance King. In this type of match, players are rewarded for the distance from which they kill an opponent. For example, melee kills aren’t worth very much even if a player performs many. He/she would still lose to a player with one kill from 100 yards away.

Conclusion:
The Sniper Elite franchise is certainly a special one with a long and storied history. Although it has yet to reach the popularity or gain the following of other military shooters, the release of Sniper Elite 4 solidifies the series as one of the genre’s top players.

Rebellion Developments was able to take a single sniping mechanic present in most shooters and expand it to craft an entire stealth experience. Sniper Elite games are elevated with each installment and I’m excited to see where the franchise is headed next.

Score:
8.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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