Sniper Elite 4
My co-op partner and I had done pretty well, all things considered. We’d covertly infiltrated San Celini Island, located off the coast of Italy and smack dab in the Mediterranean Sea. We were on a mission to investigate a purportedly new super-missile weapon that the Nazis were developing, as well as eliminate one of Hitler’s most highly prized officers.
We’d stealthily taken out almost half of the Nazi guards (as well as a few nosey officers) stationed on the island, and were scaling a massive hill. The top of the hill was occupied by a major enemy checkpoint, bristling with sentries. My comrade and I had developed a combat strategy where I’d usually move to within closer range of our foes, while he’d remain behind and overwatch my position with his M1903 Springfield long rifle.
It had worked very well up to that point. I was hiding in some bushes near the checkpoint, while guards sauntered around a few trucks that were parked there. Suddenly, one of the guards deviated from his normal patrol and began walking right towards my position. I quickly picked up a rock and tossed it behind him, and he turned around just in time. He muttered to himself in German, and then started walking back to his usual post.
I began to slowly leave the concealment of the bushes in my usual crouched posture, and moved in the opposite direction, away from where the guards were. Suddenly, my threat meter flashed—one of the guards had spotted me! Soon, German bullets were cascading through the air all around me and I dove for cover behind a low stone wall.
I heard the powerful crack of a Springfield rifle and the game’s kill-cam activated—my buddy’s round sliced through the air in slow motion and perforated one of the guard’s lungs, completely collapsing it in a grisly x-ray viewing mode. The next bullet struck a guard in the neck, obliterating his spine. Several more shots rang out as I rose from cover with my Thompson submachinegun in hand, and proceeded to join the firefight.
Between my automatic gun fire and my cohort’s long range sniping, the sentries didn’t last long. We had a few moments to whoop and holler as the last Nazi fell. But then, as we consulted our maps, we quickly realized that we’d alerted the rest of the island’s guards, and they were all headed straight for our position.
As you can tell, Rebellion Developments’ Sniper Elite 4 can be a tense game, full of emergent moments that can develop on the fly. The ten mission maps (11 if you get the Target Führer DLC which is well worth it!) are huge, and much improved over Sniper Elite 3’s more enclosed ones. In fact, although SE 4 plays a lot like SE 3, the level design and overall sense of polish has really elevated this latest iteration of the World War II snipe-fest into the big leagues of stealth action franchises.
SE 4 tells the tale of one Lieutenant Karl Fairbourne, the grizzled protagonist and elite OSS (Office of Strategic Services) sniper who has been sent to Italy during the height of WW II in 1943. The Nazis are developing a long range guidable missile system, and you’ve been tasked with dismantling their devious plans. Failure to do so could easily tip the balance of power in the favor of the Nazis.
One of the main aspects that was improved is that SE 4 features semi-open world environments that leave a ton of room for improvisation. For instance, one of my favorite tactics is to sneak up on enemies, make some sort of sound which lures them into a certain kill-zone that I’ve set up, and then either take them down via the game’s brutal melee combat system, or shoot them in the backs of their heads with my silenced pistol. Just as in the Hitman franchise, picking up the bodies and stashing them somewhere (I preferred dumping corpses off of cliffs into deep waters if possible) is always wise, since foes who come across their recently dispatched comrades will quickly shift into search and destroy mode.
But first, you’ll want to search the bodies—rifling through the pockets and pouches of Nazis can yield extra ammo for your rifle, submachinegun, and pistol. You can even swap out weapons that you come across in the field during missions, and find one that perfectly suits your playstyle. You can also evade enemies, or assault different objectives by utilizing SE 4’s new verticality system, meaning you can now climb up poles and shimmy across ledges.
Speaking of playstyles, SE 4 can be played utilizing with stealth and subterfuge, or you can take a louder, more action-packed approach. The former, of course, is not only more fun, but also gives you special bonuses and rewards depending on such factors as the distance you killed someone at, elevation, and how quiet you were. It’s also highly advised that you mask your rifle’s reports with the game’s various environmental sounds, such as planes flying overhead, or patrol boats hugging the coastlines.
There are times, however, when going loud is the only option, such as after your cover is blown and you get discovered. Whipping out your submachinegun and spraying enemies with deluges of bullets will appeal to the more run and gun types out there, and can be fun in short bursts. But if you play the game properly, that is to say slowly and methodically (while remaining as hidden as possible), and discovering as much as you can within each carefully constructed level, the results can see gamers spending 3+ hours on each map. There is a primary objective for each mission, but also numerous secondary side-missions that can be taken on if you want to.
SE 4’s graphics certainly look dazzling. They are much improved over SE 3, and feature some of the best lighting effects I’ve seen in a game. While not quite at the level of say, Battlefield 1, they are nonetheless impressive and have their own uniqueness and charm. I also really like how all of your character’s weapons are represented on his body—in other words, your long rifle doesn’t suddenly disappear when you swap it out for one of your other weapons. You see Karl sling it onto his back instead. These types of little details lend themselves to an overall greater sense of immersion and realism. The awesome kill-cam is also a blast to behold.
Sniper Elite 4 is one of the best stealth action titles that I’ve played since Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain, and that’s saying a lot. Its combination of stellar graphics, slick and refined gameplay, ferocious and grisly combat system (gotta love those nutcracker shots), and overall fun, make it a no-brainer for any fan of stealth action games.
Sniper Elite 4 offers some excellent visuals that suit its World War II theme. However, you have to have a fast gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:
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