EGX 2016: Sniper Elite 4 is Looking Bigger, Bloodier and Better Than Previous GamesTime for some squishy Nazi killing
The Sniper Elite series is a guilty pleasure of mine. The gory kills, super satisfying sniping and cheesy stories of super-weapons and Nazi experimentation all come together to make a great stealth series that, while not at times without its flaws and AA-budget jankiness, is something I know I’ll have a good time with.
With that in mind, Sniper Elite 4 was everything I was hoping for from Rebellion’s next entry in the series. It still takes itself hilariously seriously, and it seems set to improve on the previous games in almost every way. The maps are bigger and the enemy is squishier than ever, and I had a hell of a good time watching their brains pop. What I wasn’t expecting, though, were the clever nuances of the demo’s level design that moved sniping from just a way of killing things to part of a wider plan of tackling the missions.
Sniper Elite 4 follows directly on from the events of Sniper Elite 3 (and so is also a prequel to V2), and follows our macho, gravelly-voiced hero Karl ‘I Had to Google His Name’ Fairburne as he snipes and stabs his way behind enemy lines in Second World War Italy. In the demo I played gone were the ruins of previous games, instead replaced by lush, green valleys and intact villages and towns. After the shelled-out greyness of V2 and the yellow ruins of 3, Rebellion’s recreation of Italy looks gorgeous.
More importantly than pretty architecture, the map was bigger than anything I remember from previous entries. Sniper Elite 4 continues the sandbox nature of the third game, but cranks it up a notch by setting it in a huge valley and its surrounding landscape and villages. Sniper Elite 3’s biggest areas were often flat plains and airstrips with lines of sight in all directions, so the cliffs, caves and hills found in Italy offered some interesting new obstacles to overcome and fresh ways of using the terrain to my advantage.
The cliffs, caves and hills found in Italy offered some interesting new obstacles to overcome.
My objective was to demolish a bridge the enemy train was sat on. As I crept down my side of the valley, I found a cave that overlooked both the train and a village below, which gave me a good opportunity to clear out an area I wouldn’t be heading through for quite a while yet. However, at the mouth of the cave was another band of soldiers and if they heard my shots they would pretty easily close in on me thanks to the close quarters of the cave. It made timing my shots with the firing of cannons to drown out the noise more important, as I had traded my immediate safety with alleviating some of the strain later on in the level.
Unfortunately, I mistimed one of my shots and alerted the soldiers outside the cave to my presence. Knowing they were coming, I sat around the corner with my assault rifle and waited for them to arrive. My ammo was already low from a previous encounter, and I needed to preserve my sniper rifle for the objective, so after killing a few of the intruders I had no choice but to rush up and take them out with the game’s new melee kills.
Sniper Elite 4 expands on the series’ famous x-ray kill camera system by adding it to almost any kind of kill. It’s no longer limited to sniper shots, so grenades, traps and melee weapons all show the bones cracking and the organs splitting in gruesomely satisfying ways. I watched as Karl shoved his knife straight into a soldier’s heart, ribs shattering and soft tissues exploding thanks to the trauma. It was a great reward for having been more daring than I would have liked, and it served as a nice breather during a messy and frantic fight.
It was a great reward for having to be more daring than I would have liked
It all paid off though, as I eventually made my way to the area I had secured from my cave lookout. Enemies were already dead, letting me frisk their bodies for more ammunition, which was in short supply after the journey over. After a while, I crept on over to the bridge that was littered with debris and suspicious red barrels and guarded by a big ol’ tank. I was cautious of getting into any more frantic firefights here.
I had tried to pick off as many of the soldiers protecting the bridge as I could from a distance, but I still needed to sneakily take a couple out more who had slipped by until now. This area was more cramped, taking place on the scaffolding snaking around supports holding the bridge up. I used the height advantage to get the drop on my enemies, but also had to be aware of ladders that could be swarming with more at any second.
Sadly my time with the demo ran out before I managed to detonate the bridge, but I was already totally on board with what the game has to offer. While it doesn’t play much differently from its predecessor (which isn’t a bad thing), Sniper Elite 4 feels much more refined. It’s bigger, prettier, more gory, and there’s more places to explore and enemies to shoot. It was apparent there was more thought put into the design of that short section of a single mission than there was in entire levels of V2 or 3, so I am excited to see what the rest has to offer.
While I didn’t have the chance to play them, multiplayer and cooperative modes are set to make a return too after being absent in the previous game. All in all, I am really looking forwards to watching some more squishy organs go splat when Sniper Elite 4 rolls around on February 14 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.