Not only am I a pretty big fan of Rebellion, but so is most of the staff here as back in 2014 Chris gave Sniper Elite 3 an excellent 8 out of 10 and a year later nearly every member here at CGR was able to get in on the action of slaying zombie Nazis in the Zombie Army Trilogy. Fun fact, I am so incredibly "zombie'ed out" that I actively avoid anything to do with them … except for Zombie Army Trilogy. When Sniper Elite 4 was first announced I could not wait; not only did I want to get back into the action to revisit World War II from a sniper's perspective, but I was itching for some good old fashioned cooperative play. Few titles in this day and age have engaging cooperative campaigns and much to my excitement, Sniper Elite 4 continues the excellent trend that Rebellion set in years past. Sniper Elite 4 is a fantastic example of how to refresh a franchise while staying true to its roots.
In Sniper Elite 4 you step back into the boots of Karl Fairburne, American OSS agent and all-around badass with a sniper rifle. Where previous iterations of the Sniper franchise had you visiting Berlin and later, Afrika, this time around Fairburne is lending his aid in Italy. When Jeff and I both loaded up the game for a bit of cooperative sniping, we were immediately struck at how nice the game looked. It truly is a gorgeous game; the draw distance is downright amazing which is crucial given that there are plenty of times where you are trying to reach out and touch someone that might be 300-400 meters away.
These huge, sprawling maps can be a bit of a double-edged sword though, as both Jeff and I found that we would often get into these rolling firefights that often spell disaster. That plus the fact that he and I would naturally gravitate away from one-another as we would work to flank whatever patrol, settlement, outpost, or target objective. While this might work in theory and looks good on paper, I found that when one of us began to bleed out we would often lose as one would have to fight through the mass of enemies that took the other down and then have to still get to the other to revive them. There were many tense moments where Jeff or I would go down then the other would get into this heroically epic pitched battle as they pushed through a mass of Nazis. Sniper 4 certainly sets you up for some serious situations that are incredibly rewarding… It is almost addicting.
Sure the graphics are sweet but a main staple in the Sniper franchise, to me, would be the physics. The Sniper franchise, and its spinoff, Zombie Army, all utilize bullet-drop. The farther away you are from your target, the harder it is to gauge the correct angle you need to be using. On that note, bullet trajectory is actually my biggest complaint in Sniper 4 as there is no "standard" for it. Each of the various weapons have different muzzle velocities so a round for a Mosin/Nagant is going to be different than that of the Gewehr 43, which is realistic and understandable. Where I take issue with the bullet drop is that it is incredibly random for the same firearm. Most notably any at 100 meters or beyond will have varying degrees of accuracy with no real rhyme or reason. Using the Empty Lung skill (which slows down time, reduces muzzle sway, and adds a bullet drop trajectory reticle) from the same distance on a stationary target (such as those found at the game's Shooting Range), with the reticle on the same spot, will provide two very different shots. This randomized bullet drop makes it incredibly difficult to aim appropriately at longer distances. Both Jeff and I finally got to a point where we would intentionally get within 100 meters to the target just so we did not need to deal with the randomized functionality. Though I can say that the awkwardness of the bullet drop and the fact that you cannot really build any real trust with the firearms, makes it all the more satisfying when you hit that 300m neck shot.
Though the campaign only has 10 or so missions, each mission is large enough and takes long enough to beat that you can expect to take 10-14 hours or so to go through it. While I personally wish it were longer, what is there is incredibly satisfying, especially when you are playing the campaign in co-op mode, which these days is a dying breed and that is an incredible shame. Jeff and I did find some oddities when it came to the online play though, mainly in the fact that for him he would rank up in mission (from say, rank 7 to rank 9) only to have him back at rank 8, or even 7, in the level overview page. All the while I am jumping ranks like it is nobody's business. However, the issue that I had was that my shot distances would not stick; my farthest shot in game was 311m but at the end of that mission the game recorded that the longest shot was only 230m. I have yet to understand where the issue lies, but it is hard to trust the varying reporting statistics if they are constantly saying one thing then reporting something completely different.
Next to the wonky bullet drop issue the next biggest issue is how Rebellion is treating DLC in Sniper Elite 4. Jeff and I are both quite interested in U.S. military history and both have varying degrees of knowledge when it comes to real-world firearms (I know a wee-bit more about firearms where he knows the actual useful information…) and both of us were quite bummed to see that the M1 Garand, often cited as the best battle rifle throughout the majority of the 20th century, is only available beyond a paywall. The same goes for really any of the popular World War 2 American rifles, like the M1 Carbine. Fortunately you do get access to the Thompson submachine gun, a staple of U.S. Officer armaments throughout much of the 30's through the late 60's. It is a minor gripe but it showcases all of the problems with microtransactions and day-1 DLC; I am not a fan.
All in, Sniper Elite 4 is without a doubt the best in the franchise. Small issues aside, with a little patching to address the randomized bullet drop and accuracy, Sniper Elite 4 could be a standout in third-person shooters. As it is, the Sniper franchise is the best of the modern-day World War 2 era shooters. Beautiful locales, massive open environments, and an intelligent enemy AI result in some tense and stunning pitched battles or rolling firefights. All it really takes is that one shot to bring someone back; for me it was managing to snipe the driver through the tiny slot of a front window of an Auto Union Sd. Kfz.222, which is an armored vehicle with a turret on it, while it was moving at about 150 meters. It was glorious and goes to show that Sniper Elite 4: Italy is a brilliant title comprised of these little moments of exceptional quality.
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Article by Robert