Have you ever wondered how different the world would be if defining events during World War II such as Operation Overlord and the D-Day landings didn’t happen? That’s one scary dystopian 2017 to think about, right? Or maybe not so scary, considering our current state of affairs. Either way, ensuring that the main events in the Second World War play out as they did is an important task and Rebellion are recruiting their best snipers to take on the job in Sniper Elite 4. Fans of the series will be pleased to discover that this fourth game picks up where the last left off: set in Italy in 1943, you’ll be in the shoes of covert agent and elite marksman, Lieutenant Karl Fairburne.
I spent some time testing out the Campaign on San Celini Island where you’re required to take out several key targets before making a sharp exit off the island. Straight off the bat, let’s just say that if you enjoyed playing Metal Gear Solid V, then you’ll most likely enjoy SE4 too. Running around on the expansive maps, setting traps, and stalking enemies emits that kind of feel. Despite it being a sniper game, SE4 gives you the freedom to eliminate targets however you choose. Patient players may strive for a ghostly stealth run where they only focus on the main targets and then disappear without a trace. With the addition of suppressed ammunition (which will work with all sniper rifles and some pistols) players can finally achieve a silent but deadly run. However, if you’re like me and don’t fancy being too quiet, there are other ways to occupy yourself.
The island is teeming with smart guards; but these guys won’t be a problem thanks to the selection of traps at your disposal. Offering trip mines, sticky grenades, TNT, and more, you can be as elaborate or simple as you like. I lured a group of guards over to an archway where I had set up a delayed trip wire, but several types of mines can be set with delays, and trip wires can be linked together to create monstrous lengths of explosives, so there’s plenty of room to be creative. In other situations I found that simply throwing a sticky grenade into a group of guards got the job done, which also provided me with some hilarious cinematic moments of the guards panicking before their impending doom, which may sound a bit messed up, but let’s be honest, you want to try that now, don’t you?
Speaking of cinematic moments, Sniper Elite’s renowned X-Ray kills are back in full (albeit ridiculous) force in SE4. Blasting through enemy skulls looks as graphic as ever and if you’re as skilled as I am, you may even pull off some rad no-scope ‘nut shots’. Sure, headshots are important and will reward you with a tidy XP bonus, but it’s fun to target different parts of the body and watch those dramatic X-Ray kills explode across your screen. While playing through the first mission of the campaign, you’ll spend a lot of time running around the rural landscape where there are a number of side quests to complete, such as destroying Nazi cameras that are distributed around the island. One thing that I really enjoyed about the campaign was that I didn’t feel rushed to complete the main quest. Whether you’re determined to take out the main targets and move on in record time or decide to pick off every single enemy on the island, you can do so at your own pace. What’s more, you’re rewarded for thoroughly exploring the location with various medals that mark your achievements and hidden Easter eggs.
SE4 is a much deeper game and more emotional than I expected it to be. If you search enemy tents or loot their bodies after killing them, you may come across letters and photographs from their loved ones along with other trinkets. These inclusions make the soldier that you just mercilessly killed seem all the more human; a realisation that hit me like a sobering tonne of bricks. The mixture of information that you can find on some of the soldiers appears to have been placed to make you question your decision to kill them. You may find a heart-warming letter from a soldier’s family or alternatively, a piece of information that paints them as an evil individual. Although this may go unnoticed or ignored by some players, its inclusion is really interesting as it reminds us that the Second World War was fought by real humans. It seems like Rebellion want to remind us of that, despite the fact that the main Campaign depends on us killing men, particularly the ‘bad’ ones like Nazi generals and in the DLC, Hitler.
Another thing that surprised me was how fun the additional modes were, like “Control”, the twelve-player multiplayer mode that consists of two teams battling to take control of a video box that drops in various places around an island. This mode was a chaotic mess of bullets and melee kills which led to fast-paced and enjoyable games. With the added luxuries of a bit of strategy and teamwork, the Multiplayer mode shows a lot of promise. Setting traps around the box and stalking opponents for sneaky melee kills felt incredibly satisfying and being picked off by seemingly invisible snipers is enough to enrage any player. In addition, the co-op Survival mode proved to be quite challenging.
Debuting in V2, the Survival mode is notoriously tough, escalating to a frightful level where as much as a glint from your scope can get you killed. Set in a rural Italian village, players are required to work together to capture a command post, where they must protect their ammunition reserves. Enemies flood towards the post in waves so placing traps in choke-points is key. If the enemies manage to capture the ammunition reserve, your team will have to soldier on without restocking for a few rounds, which can prove to be ludicrously difficult. Much like the Multiplayer mode, this provided a nice change of pace from the Campaign and, when played with a strong team of four, I think players will find creative and resourceful ways to survive each wave.
After playing it, I’m looking forward to Sniper Elite 4’s release in February. Despite only catching a glimpse of it, the game surpasses what I would want from a sniper game – in which I would usually be quite happy just shooting enemies and watching the dramatic x-ray kills. In the first mission alone Rebellion has adequately fleshed out the Second World War theme with intricate details that I never would have expected, and I’m particularly interested to see how that develops as you progress through the campaign. Sniper Elite 4 doesn’t rush players to complete the main goals, and maintains a relatively tense atmosphere which ensured that I always had something to focus on. With five difficulty settings for the campaign, players can choose how relaxing or intense they want their experience to be. With the added stacks of weapons and traps, I think the community will have a lot of fun sharing clips of crazy kills and elaborate domino effect trap setups. The other modes are neat additions that I’m eager to jump into again with a few friends. Last year, Deadpool stole the show on Valentine’s Day; this year I think I’ll stay in and play Sniper Elite 4 instead.
Sniper Elite 4 is published by Rebellion and will be released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on February 14th.