There are some games boasting a killer feature; one that keep players glued to it for hours on end. In the case of the Sniper Elite series, it’s the beautiful, wince-inducing ‘X-Ray Kill-Cam’ that shows in slow-mo all the gory details of what happens when bullet hits a human target.

This one mechanic has had me hooked on the franchise for years, and earned the games a free pass when it comes to other aspects like mission design, enemy AI and its relatively small level size. I just didn’t care about anything else, as long as that kill-cam kept delivering the goods – and it did.

The third game was a massive improvement over the first two, introducing larger levels, better-looking graphics and a kill-cam for vehicles as well, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Clearly other fans did too, because developer Rebellion has pulled out all the stops to make Sniper Elite 4 the best in the series.

Sniper Elite 4 Review: Dammit, Karl

Players are plonked back into the shoes of World War II sniper Karl Fairburne, but this time the action has moved from North Africa to Italy.

Levels are bigger (and prettier), there are more weapons and explosives with which to wreak havoc, and the level design has been tweaked to offer an open-ended approach. Karl can also hide in bushes now, and there’s even suppressed ammo that silences his rifle, letting him shoot without waiting for some bigger noise to mask his shots.

There are optional side-missions aplenty to take on if you wish that give the levels a life of their own that’s independent of your presence. It’s all tied together with a rather drab story in which Karl helps local the resistance take the fight to the Germans in Italy.

While enemy AI is a little off – dead bodies seem to cause a brief panic but then enemies happily go back to what they were doing – and the presence of the occasional programming glitch, this is a far more polished game than any of its predecessors. If you’ve been a fan of the series up to now, you’ll appreciate what Rebellion has done with this one.

Sniper Elite 4 Review: Kill-Cam Kinetics

As was mentioned the star of this show is the ‘Kill-Cam’, which in Sniper Elite 4, is more detailed than it’s ever been. It now features new organ deformation and also triggers when enemies are killed by bombs, mines and melee take-downs in addition to the sniper kills and vehicle destruction of the previous game.

Take that, lung!

The game’s body destruction is incredibly realistic. For example, if you aim at the head, you’ll see teeth and jaws being smashed, eyes popping, skulls exploding and brains wobbling depending on exactly where your bullet hits. Aim at the torso and you could hit lungs, intestines, the heart, kidneys, liver, even bones, all of which deform in gloriously gory ways as your sniper bullet passes through.

It’s a ridiculously satisfying feature, up there with the slow-motion VATS of Fallout 3/4/New Vegas.

Sniper Elite 4 Review: A Just Reward

The reason it’s so satisfying is partly the gore porn that triggers on a successful snipe, and partly because the Kill-Cam sequence is like a little reward for patiently waiting for enemies to move into position, lining up the shot and pulling the trigger at the right moment.

Pictured: The Walking Dead

Of course, being anatomically correct and having the game populated exclusively by male targets you can also go for nut-shots, and testicles hit by bullets explode in gut-wrenching fashion. It’s a particularly satisfying feat to pull off.

In case the above doesn’t make it clear: if you’re even remotely sensitive to violence of any kind, this is not the game for you.

Sniper Elite 4 Review: A few criticisms

Despite being a more polished game than its forebears, Sniper Elite 4 still has its share of problems. The enemy AI is a bit duff; there’s no sense of there being any real co-ordination among soldiers when they detect Karl’s presence. Also all too often soldiers would see him (or evidence of his passage like a dead body), they’d throw themselves behind cover, only to poke their heads up a few seconds later – ripe for the picking.

The worst AI issue was seeing them get hung up on unseen parts of the environment, which is really just poor programming.

The alert system is likewise flawed. I once blew up a tank inside a garage, for instance, without alerting the soldiers that appeared within hearing distance, yet another time I killed what looked like a lone soldier in the middle of nowhere, only to have platoons of soldiers I wasn’t even aware of (and who didn’t appear on my mini-map) pour into the area to overwhelm me.

Other times I’d fire my rifle without suppressed ammo or a covering noise and alert nobody, and I seldom knew for sure what was going to happen until I’d fired. Thank goodness the game saves and loads near-instantly, as I ended up trial-and-error-ing my way through each level which required a lot of both.

Finally the difficult settings are chasms apart. Play the game on the second-most difficult setting, and it’s rather easy. Crank it up a notch and you’ll become lost in seconds. Without that aim indicator, I had no idea how to judge where my bullet was going over longer distances (the game’s bullet physics are very realistic) and failing repeatedly wasn’t fun at all.

Sniper Elite 4 Review: Multiplayer

Co-op survival mode has you and up to three friends fighting wave after wave of enemies, and while it can be tense as enemy difficulty ramps up, you really need the right group of friends to enjoy it with as strangers didn’t prove quite as co-operative. It also devolves into more of an action shooter than a sniping game as enemy numbers require players to be fast and loud, and there’s a frantic scramble from wave to wave thanks to resupply points that randomly reposition themselves around the level.

Then there’s No Cross, which is better-suited to Sniper Elite’s sneaky-hidey-snipey gameplay, as it features levels separated by an uncrossable “No Man’s Land” that keeps the two teams sneaking around, watching for the glint of light off enemy binoculars. This one is fun if you like sniping, but requires a bit too much patience for most shooter gamers to truly enjoy.

Team Distance King is a neat twist on multiplayer, as it rewards the team that has killed from a greater distance with the win, rather than the team with the most kills. There are of course traditional modes like Team Deathmatch and Free for All if you’re in the mood for regular old run-n-gun multiplayer, so there are at least some good options here.

That’s when you can actually find a game, that is. I found the servers to be a little too sparsely-populated and ended up waiting a long time for public matches to start. Once in, I experienced lag spikes and the occasional disconnect that really dampened my enthusiasm, but these were likely more to do with our position at the southern tip of Africa (and possibly my ADSL) than any shortcoming of the game itself.

Sniper Elite 4 Review: Verdict

Despite a few technical shortcomings, Sniper Elite 4 is definitely a more polished sniping game than its predecessors and one that fans of the franchise will surely enjoy. From its open levels, to its tense action, this is a game that may even earn Rebellion a couple of new converts. Oh, and that Kill-Cam? That never gets old.

  • Sniper Elite 4 is available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. It costs R589 (PC) and R799 (console). This review is based on the PC version, which we received for free from the developer.
There are some games boasting a killer feature; one that keep players glued to it for hours on end. In the case of the Sniper Elite series, it's the beautiful, wince-inducing 'X-Ray Kill-Cam' that shows in slow-mo all the gory details of what happens when bullet hits a human target. This one mechanic has had me hooked on the franchise for years, and earned the games a free pass when it comes to other aspects like mission design, enemy AI and its relatively small level size. I just didn’t care about anything else, as long as that kill-cam kept delivering the goods - and it did. The third game was a massive improvement over the first two, introducing larger levels, better-looking graphics and a kill-cam for vehicles as well, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Clearly other fans did too, because developer Rebellion has pulled out all the stops to make Sniper Elite 4 the best in the series. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EywEyf0i_M&feature=youtu.be Sniper Elite 4 Review: Dammit, Karl Players are plonked back into the shoes of World War II sniper Karl Fairburne, but this time the action has moved from North Africa to Italy. Levels are bigger (and prettier), there are more weapons and explosives with which to wreak havoc, and the level design has been tweaked to offer an open-ended approach. Karl can also hide in bushes now, and there's even suppressed ammo that silences his rifle, letting him shoot without waiting for some bigger noise to mask his shots. There are optional side-missions aplenty to take on if you wish that give the levels a life of their own that’s independent of your presence. It's all tied together with a rather drab story in which Karl helps local the resistance take the fight to the Germans in Italy. While enemy AI is a little off - dead bodies seem to cause a brief panic but then enemies happily go back to what they were doing - and the presence of the occasional programming glitch, this is a far more polished game than any of its predecessors. If you've been a fan of the series up to now, you'll appreciate what Rebellion has done with this one. Sniper Elite 4 Review: Kill-Cam Kinetics As was mentioned the star of this show is the 'Kill-Cam', which in Sniper Elite 4, is more detailed than it's ever been. It now features new organ deformation and also triggers when enemies are killed by bombs, mines and melee take-downs in addition to the sniper kills and vehicle destruction of the previous game. Take that, lung! The game's body destruction is incredibly realistic. For example, if you aim at the head, you’ll see teeth and jaws being smashed, eyes popping, skulls exploding and brains wobbling depending on exactly where your bullet hits. Aim at the torso and you could hit lungs, intestines, the heart, kidneys, liver, even bones, all of which deform in gloriously gory ways as your sniper bullet passes through. It’s a ridiculously satisfying feature, up there with the slow-motion VATS of Fallout 3/4/New Vegas. Sniper Elite 4…

Score

Overall - 8

8

Gruesome fun

Bigger levels, fantastic visuals, more weapons and that amazing Kill-Cam will please fans of the franchise. Just don't expect a memorable story or brilliant AI, and you'll have a blast.

User Rating: 4.6 ( 1 votes)
8
Deon got his first taste of PC gaming at the tender age of 11 when his father bought an 8088 XT, ostensibly to "help him with his homework". Instead, it introduced him to Leisure Suit Larry, King Graham, Sonny Bonds and many more, and Deon has been a PC gamer and hardware enthusiast ever since. He landed his first professional writing gig in 2006 at a prestigious local PC magazine, a very happy happenstance as he got to write for a living about things he loves - tech, PCs, gaming, and everything in between. He's been writing about it all ever since, and loves every minute of it.