I am never been one for concealing myself in a bush and picking people off from a distance. I’m a regular Leeroy Jenkins, preferring the automatic rifle and the shotgun to the campers who stay out of sight and head-shot me. Frequently. Take Martin Riggs from Lethal Weapon as an example. He tells his partner that he did a guy in Laos from a thousand yards out. It was a rifle shot in high wind. However, in all the films you only ever see him do that in one scene. The rest of the time he was up close and personal, shooting them in the face. That’s how I roll. I am not really into stealth games as avoiding the triggering of alarms by hiding in card board boxes doesn’t make an awful lot of sense to me.
For those very reasons I have never played a Sniper Elite game and here I am playing number 4. Is it any good? Will I be able to shoot people in the face, up close and personal? The answer to the latter is yes, but that’s not really the point. Hence the clue in the title.
It’s World War Two and you kill Nazis. But you are a sneaky sod, you hide in the shadows like a panther (if panthers had firearms), stalking your prey and mess with their heads before going in for the kill. Not by constantly calling them in the middle of the night and not speaking. Because they broke your heart by going off with some short arse called Trevor. Because he had a nicer car, more money and was a “good listener”. Did you hear that Deborah?! You broke my heart you bitch! Anyway, I digress. You can distract the enemy by making all manor of noise such as detonating a truck via a single well placed bullet to the fuel tank that in turn draws them to a downed soldier that you just happened to booby trap. They in turn go boom. Very satisfying.
Another reason I don’t like stealth because when I screw up and get discovered, all hell breaks loose and I die very quickly. Sniper Elite 4 was no different. Right at the start I was in my tower tagging enemies with my binoculars (ala Far Cry) shooting exploding barrels (ala every game ever) when I got spotted. They rushed me. But I didn’t die. I just picked them off as they formed an orderly line and idiotically came up the ladder one by one. But the key is you have the freedom to make mistakes, to tackle the mission in more ways that one. The levels are sprawling and allow for many different ways to approach your objectives. It’s certainly not mission-over if you cock up with some bloke shouting “Snaaaaake!” as the screen fades to black.
On that subject of tagging enemies, not only does it add the enemy to your map, but it also tells you want they are carrying and a bit of background behind them. Scan a vehicle, and it tells you the status of the tyres. Blimey, technology was very advanced in World War Two. I’m still amazed by the Smart Meter I had installed by my energy provider at home just before Christmas. Finding out how much energy my halogen spot-lights were using meant I lived in perpetual darkness for a week until I could get down to Homebase to buy some LED replacements. Needless to say I spent more money in bulbs than I probably saved in electricity for at least two years.
Anyway, my missions would continue to go frequently pear shaped. Call it Overt Stealth if you will. I would shoot a lot of those Hun buggers from a distance, trying to use the overhead planes to mask the noise but then I losing patience, alerting all my German friends. So, I would hide somewhere to wait for them come to me. That tactic worked most of the time but keep in mind I was playing in “Normal”. Play on any harder difficulty levels though, and my tactics were rubbish with my arse quickly handed to me on a plate. Although there is plenty of challenge there for the diehards, I was quite happy being on my easier setting ta very much. I would stress at this point that even on the easier setting, my strategy in the latter levels would attract the attention of even more reinforcements, including tanks. So it then took significantly longer to complete a stage. Let’s put it this way, you know this people who try to complete a level without killing anyone? Well, I averaged over 120 dead per map. It was carnage. Even when I completed my objectives, I’d carry on mopping up any stragglers. I could get quite used to the stealth business.
So Sniper Elite 4 has a lot of similarities to the likes Metal Gear or Splinter Cell, but with a difference. Take a long range shot holding your breath and you get the hallmark of the series, X-ray bullet porn. And by god is it satisfying. Kill three enemies in a line, one bullet, the game exclaimed “Triple Kill”. I got a medal and an achievement. Soooo good. The camera following the bullet as it rips through some poor blokes kidneys. Or snaps his spine. Or blows his jaw clean off. I tried unsuccessfully on many occasion to get all three at the same time.
There are ten maps in total but keep this in mind. Most maps take around an hour and a half to two hours to complete. I literally slaughtered every single member of the Third Reich. It felt like Schindler’s Kill List. So its a long game to play through and it can get a little repetitive. An average map would involve the following:
1. Enter a island, town or base.
2. Find stuff.
3. Kill stuff.
4. Blow up stuff.
I also got some DLC with the package where you can kill Hilter. We can all agree that he was a very bad man. Unless you are part of the tiny minority of far right simpletons who believe he was just a simple misunderstood painter, with anger management issues and still bitter about his unsuccessful career as a Charlie Chaplin impersonator. It turns out this was just another map where you infiltrate a base but with added Führer. Spoiler, I killed him. I tried to get him in the testicle to see if the legend was true, but I missed and got his intestines. If you pre-ordered then you got it free, if you didn’t it costs £6. I am not really sure it’s worth the money so wait for a sale if your are still interested.
In summary, yes the game is a bit of a one trick pony, but a fun pony none-the-less. I had a body count of over 1000 in the end. I also achieved my aim, I got a lot X-ray testicle action. And lots of head (shots).
Midlife Gamer Rating: 7.5/10 Format: PlayStation 4 / Xbox One / PC Release Date: Out Now
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided with a review copy of Sniper Elite 4 for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of seven days . For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.