Sniper Elite 5 review: Running too much, not enough shooting

Karl Fairburne, Honorary Sniper Elite, is a master at hitting bad guys at a distance. Master shooting the Nazis at balls across hundreds of metres. It is an enigma, then, as to why the French resistance continually presents him with targets that require close combat. “Sneak into that mansion,” or “blow up that radar,” they say, perhaps with a smirk assuming he won’t be able to pull it off. He can, of course, but it’s a monotonous series of missions that rarely asks you to get creative with your reliable rifle.

Like previous games in the series, Rebellion’s Sniper Elite 5 features a campaign that spans eight missions, each one with a large map and some key objectives. One of these is usually something that can be blown up or stolen; Some basic information that you must retrieve, or a radar tower that the French resistance wants to destroy. This primary goal is coupled with an assassination target from the resistance’s kill list.

Often the early stage of each mission is best: you enter the map, find a lookout point, and use your binoculars to survey what lies ahead. You can search around various points of interest, such as scattered security checkpoints, fortified cities, and enemy camps, to locate enemies, alarms, and other noteworthy details. When you notice new areas, you will also get some optional missions in your list of goals. You can select a cache that you can destroy or a hidden item to steal, and their locations are marked on your map.

While you’re on a hill, it’s a perfect opportunity to do some sniping without fear of being spotted, as most maps have regularly occurring noises to mask your shots. A noise bar pops up at the top of the screen to let you know when one of those sounds, like an airplane flying overhead or shooting from a distance, is about to play. This gives you a chance to prepare your shot and fire at the right time, slowly weakening guards across the map without breaking stealth. Each assassination is simple and satisfying, and may also open up new paths for your targets as you clear highly guarded paths and camps. Choosing a specific kill list target on each mission is especially fun, as they are clearly designed in such a way that you have to think about your location before taking the shot.

However, the other goals don’t require much thought. At first, I looked for creative ways to complete my targets, shooting barrel bombs in an attempt to destroy bunkers and other targets. Unfortunately the explosions had little effect and I had to run across the map and plant bag charges before these targets actually exploded into smithereens. The Sniper Elite 5’s approach to mission design seems too rigid in this respect, often stifling the most creative approaches with endless work and getting ahead of setting your goals. In a game series known for its cinematic portrayal of bloody X-rays of exploding organs and shattering spines, the massive time spent escaping around the world seems intended to make these killing cameras happen less frequently. This isn’t entirely new to the franchise, as Sniper Elite 4 has also had its fair share of sprinting between goals, but it continues to detract from its most well-known feature.

Since you frequently dash into close positions, you’ll wonder why you ever trained as a sniper in the first place.

Worse, the more you snipe, the less interesting these races become, as environments devoid of enemy guards lose all sense of drama and tension. Even if you decide to avoid a couple of rangers from time to time, running around the map remains a low point for Sniper Elite 5. Since you frequently get into close situations, you’ll wonder why you ever trained as a sniper in the first place. In fact, when it comes to the rest of Fairborn’s combat abilities, the lack of mechanical depth to master makes every encounter look identical. Stealth requires a more careful approach, but it still seems like an afterthought when your options extend to a few distractions, a silencer, and a few melee takedowns. Each of these systems seems shallow compared to hunting skulls from afar, and every trip on these makes me hungry only to return to those distant hills.

I should note, however, that all campaign missions are also available to play in a co-op mode, and I think this helped mitigate some of the sticking points I’ve mentioned so far. Playing in co-op mode lets you coordinate the roles a bit more, for example, so you can have one player sniping all over while the other doing the hard work on the ground, but still looks like you draw the short straw a little whenever you have to throw the sniper aside And get close to the event.

Carl Fairborn looks at the Coastal Spy Academy, shrouded in mist as a plane flies in Sniper Elite 5

It’s also a shame to be forced into such cramped, cramped environments when Sniper Elite 5 looks great from a distance. From your point of view, the various maps laid out in the south of France are breathtaking landscapes that sometimes amazed me with their sincerity and detail. Task 3 in particular struck me with its fog-covered coastal town, which I had to stop and take a screenshot. In sharp contrast, the buildings and bunkers that often serve as thematic sites are cluttered labyrinths of beige and gray.

Fortunately, when you’re not being fed through lanes to find targets, Sniper Elite 5’s new weapon customization system makes sniping more interesting and adaptable than its predecessors. Before moving on to a mission, you can modify your weapons with new muzzles, barrels, scopes, and a host of other attachments to change their stats, such as handling and damage. All this will undoubtedly be familiar to fans of other shooters, but it is a welcome and long-awaited addition to the Sniper Elite.

Most of these attachments lean toward either running speed and gun or long-range control and power, but this small amount of customization helps differentiate the different weapons more in a way that the Sniper Elite 4 couldn’t. It allows you to find the perfect setting that suits your playstyle – but creating that perfect loadout makes it even more frustrating when you need to pull yourself away from the hunting nest. There are also workbenches scattered around each map that you can use to change parts during the mission, but this rarely seems necessary. Since each gear includes a pistol, SMG, and sniper rifle, they tend to feel dynamic enough to tackle any scenario without switching attachments mid-level.

Screenshot of the main character's Sniper Elite 5 planting an explosive device on a large tower in a basement

The new Conquest mode in Sniper Elite 5 increases tension and makes missions more engaging.

While missions can quickly fade into their grueling episodes of running between goals, Sniper Elite 5’s new Conquest mode heightens the tension and makes missions more engaging. If you have Invasion mode turned on, another player can enter into your mission as a Nazi sniper and try to kill you before extraction. This encourages you to move slower and approach the levels more carefully, because the threat posed by another player is much greater than the threat posed by the AI ​​in Sniper Elite. A single shot from your gun can finish your mission and force you back to the last checkpoint, so you’ll need to use distractions and arrows between shadows to stay alive. There are also phones scattered around each map that you can use to spot human players for a brief moment.

It actually reminded me of a lot of Dithlope Juliana’s forays, for better and worse. Their unique clothing and distinct movements make players easy to choose among a crowd, but knowing that they can be seen through a sniper scope at any moment creates a cat-and-mouse game that makes Sniper Elite 5 missions even more exciting than usual. Although this only happened a few times during the review time due to a small group of players, the cross-play of the game and the launch of Game Pass makes me hope these forays will be more frequent when more players can make the jump.

Outside of story missions, Sniper Elite 5 also features a wave-based survival mode and team-based multiplayer. While I couldn’t find any multiplayer matches (it doesn’t offer bots to complement the single player experience), survival mode’s focus on defensive combat allows you to enjoy sniping without having to worry about distant targets and long runs. between. There are three survival maps that you can play on with different operations, and each operation tasks you with defending different areas, pushing you from area A to D as you progress in higher rounds. With four distinct operations to choose from for each map, there are plenty of combat-focused challenges to explore here that make for a fun alternative to the main campaign. As you’d expect, the waves of enemies aren’t as well built as the more complex campaign combos, but the ability to focus solely on defensive combat streaks outside of the boredom found in the main missions.

Sniper Elite 5 maintains its distinctive shooting streak across some great locations, but its renewed focus on close combat encounters often feels like a shallow side step away from your gun, leaving targets looking flat and monotonous. The game is at its best when you can sit back and snipe like a champ, but when the campaign constantly forces you into cramped and cluttered environments, it ends up distracting you from this awesome shooter. A new Invasion mode ups the ante and makes missions more tense, while a new weapon customization system lets you customize your sniping experience, but the amount of time you spend running means Sniper Elite 5 often fails to hit the target.

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