Platforms: Xbox Series X , Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC (Reviewed)
Release Date: 26 May 2022
Price: $49.99 USD – Available Here $99.95 AUD – Available Here
Sniper Elite is a clever series. It found its niche and it is sticking with it. And how can you blame it? It is a quality series, after all. Granted, it struggled to find its identity from the first game to the second, but from Sniper Elite 3 and onward it really started to shine. Nowadays, Rebellion has the market cornered. If you’re on the lookout for a decent WW2-themed game with an emphasis on sniping, pretty much everything will recommend you one of these games. It’s been a while since I sniped some nazis all over Europe, so let’s see what’s new on that (western) front.
After visiting Italy in the previous game, Sniper Elite 5 takes us to France. Once again, those Germans have one more ace in the sleeve as they are losing the battle. This time their last resort is something called Operation Kraken. Is it a superweapon, some new elite squad of enemies, a large domesticated octopus that speaks German and can launch nukes? No one knows for sure. This time Karl Fairburne is being backed by the French resistance. You’ll visit a few chateaus, remnants of what was once St Nazaire, a steel mill factory, a train depot, and some submarine docks. You’ll zipline from one end of the map to the other – all in the effort to get to the bottom of what really is Operation Kraken.
The thing is, Sniper Elite 5 brings a lot to the table so I’m not even sure where to start first. Well, let’s talk about the campaign. Besides the main and optional objectives, you now have something called the kill list. Each level has some special nazi officer or a spy or a traitor that you have to eliminate. Now, there are two ways that you can approach this. You can kill them or……you can kill them harder. To elaborate on that needlessly confusing sentence, each of those special assassination tasks has a specific parameter that you can fulfill. Of course, it is not mandatory (a good old-fashioned murder will do just fine) but if you eliminate them with a specific weapon, kill them in an explosion or even poison them, you will unlock a new weapon that cannot be obtained otherwise. How’s that for an incentive?
Speaking of weapons, we now also have weapon customization. On every level, there are three workbenches to find. Using them will reward you with new weapon parts for your sniper, secondary weapon, and a pistol. As you customize your arsenal, you’ll notice visual changes on your weapons as well as changed stats. Every weapon part has its advantage as well as a drawback. If you want to make a silent sniper, you’ll also get a pretty weak stopping power as a bonus so make sure to go for a headshot every time. Or you can make a one-hit kill sniper rifle that will be heard by pretty much every enemy on the map. We also have some new ammo types – armor damaging bullets and not lethal bullets. The first one is usually used when you have more enemies near a truck or a tank so that way you can kill two….well, usually 5-6
flies Nazis with one bullet. I didn’t find non-lethal ammo particularly useful unless you’re going for a no-kill run in a level.
But that’s not where the fun ends. Besides the campaign, you have the usual goodies of a survival mode, co-op, and multiplayer, but also something new now called the invasion mode. It is insanely fun and it really spices up the game if you’re willing to take a risk. Basically, if you toggle that option on, as you play the campaign another player can join your game as the enemy sniper. You get more experience by completing objectives while having that option active, but there is always that danger of other players sneaking up on you and messing up your game. It makes you constantly on the edge and looking in all directions while sneaking around. You will usually think twice before sprinting in the open. Anxiety-inducing gameplay has never been so fun!
If there is one thing that surprised me in Sniper Elite 5, it is the level design. There is always more than meets the eye. The second mission of the game places you in front of this huge chateau that has maybe 5-6 sections and layers inside. It is surrounded by intertwined streets, hidden passages, and tunnels. It’s like three levels in one and every time I replay that level, I discover some new area. Aside from that, there are noticeable improvements in character design. Karl doesn’t look so dead behind the eyes like in Sniper Elite 4. However, every once in a while I’d encounter some visual bugs that would take me out of the game. There is this unnatural blood splatter when knifing the enemies (blood will often clip through their heads and helmets) and on more than one occasion, I had some enemies simply fall through the map.
Rebellion has a tendency to go the extra mile when it comes to audio in this series but in this game, they surpassed my expectations. After you finish the campaign, you can replay the levels to get more achievements, and do some challenges while using different characters from the game. Nothing out of the ordinary, right? I mean, previous games had that as well. But what I didn’t expect is that each of these characters is fully voiced and they respond to what’s happening in the game. One unlockable character, Marie Chevalier, has specific voice lines that are used when you complete objectives (funny enough, Karl would usually stay silent when I played with him in those same situations) and when you notice specific things in the level (watchtowers, nazi officers, vehicles, etc).
Sniper Elite 5 is a good example of why you shouldn’t change something that works just fine as it is. I’ve seen too many sequels that wanted to try something different and make radical additions to the game that ended up being a complete misfire in the end. Sniper Elite knows what works and it’s sticking with it. If you’re a sniping nut like me, this purchase is a no-brainer. Improved kill cam, new weapons, new levels, new gameplay mechanics (you should seriously try that invasion mode), and lastly, huge replay value. Sniper Elite 5 is the pinnacle of the franchise and it will rule supreme for quite a while – or at least until a sequel is released.
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