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Sniper Elite 4 Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Sniper Elite 4 may be more of the same, but it improves on the theme enough to be a worthwhile sequel. The new stages are large and diverse, the story is more engaging, there's more variety to the kill cam and the game looks better than ever. Both fans of the series and gamers looking to kick Nazi ass will find a lot to like in Sniper Elite 4. Now if only they could give Karl Fairburne more of a personality. Rating: 78%
Sniper Elite 4
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  • Review Score:

  • B+
It wasn't that long ago when gamers were thoroughly sick and tired of World War II. Between Call of Duty, Battlefield, Medal of Honor and countless other action games, it was starting to feel like we would never escape the 1940s. And then we did, with all of those franchises moving on to Vietnam, the modern age and even space combat. But lately I've been getting the itch to return to the 20th century and kill Nazis in the nastiest, most disturbing ways imaginable. Thankfully, Sniper Elite 4 is here to make that possible.

Proving once again that he's the hardest working soldier in World War II, Karl Fairburne returns for yet another action-packed adventure. This time around he's infiltrating Italy in 1943. He's sent in to help the resistance fighters clear the path for the eventual Allied assault, which involves everything from kidnapping key operatives to convincing the Mafia to help with the war effort. The location and players may have changed, but the song and dance remains the same.


Sniper Elite 4 takes the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach, giving us a third-person shooter that looks and feels a lot like the previous installments. Instead of reinventing the wheel, Rebellion has decided to make everything bigger and more destructive. The stages are now massive, full of multiple paths and side missions to complete. There's a verticality to the eight locations that not only gives Karl a huge advantage over his enemies, but makes them stand out from the stages found in Sniper Elite III.

This is, at its core, a stealth action game. The goal is to sneak around the enormous stages and stay hidden from the soldiers. This is not a run-and-gun shoot-em-up like Gears of War, but rather a slower-paced fight where the element of surprise is your key to winning. Karl slinks around the levels looking for the perfect hiding spots, giving him a chance to line up his shots and kill Nazis from far away. It's as rewarding as it is gruesome.

What makes this series so appealing is that you're able to toy with the enemies in ways you normally can't in other first- and third-person shooters. Because he's usually taking his shots from far away, you can easily confuse the Nazis and act like a ghost. This element is amplified by the larger stages, which gives us a lot of room to play with the bad guys. Sniper Elite 4 is not one of those games where you'll constantly have to reload if you get caught, since it's usually pretty easy to escape detection and find a safe spot. This sequel goes one step further by letting Karl climb chains and pipes, as well as booby trap dead bodies and sabotage parts of the level.

Even if you're never played a Sniper Elite game before, chances are the one thing you know about the series is that it's full of disturbing and disgusting kills. Your perfectly lined-up shot will be rewarded with a slow-motion replay of the bullet tearing apart the enemy from the inside, always displayed in excruciating detail with X-ray vision. This sequel ups the ante by making the close-quarter melee kills just as visceral. We also get kill cams for shrapnel kills, giving the game a little variety. As always, you can turn these animations off at any time, but I never got bored of watching the knife rip through the heart like a ripe, juicy tomato.

Sniper Elite 4 (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

One thing I like is how this game goes further in making you feel like you're part of the story. Instead of just getting the usual cinema set-up, we're able to wander around and talk to your fellow resistance fighters before each mission. This will not only give you optional side-missions to complete, but also fill in some of the context. As dreadfully boring as Karl is, he's surrounded by compelling characters that seem to know what's going on. As silly as it sounds, this made me more invested in the fight and kept me up-to-date with each story beat. I liked the supporting cast, and some of their side-missions are even more fun than the primary objective.

On that topic, there's a lot to accomplish in each stage. Sure, we get the usual hidden items that are scattered throughout every Sniper Elite game, but also get brand new objectives to take on by replaying levels. The game will want you to earn a number of headshots, only use a certain gun and finish the level without using any health items. There will also be challenges revolving around using the environment to kill the enemies, which is one of the most satisfying parts of the game.

After spending so much time in Africa thanks to Sniper Elite III, I was excited for the change of scenery. With its seaside cities, memorable architecture, lush forests and bombed out villages, I was impressed with the diversity found in Italy. I like the use of colors and how each level forced me to change up my strategy. The fact that these stages are considerably larger and filled with multiple paths definitely helps, but it's the variety that ultimately wins the day. That said, none of the levels here are better than the Ratte Factory found in the last sequel. That remains one of the most impressive stages found in any Sniper Elite game.

While the larger levels and improved story bits go a long way to make this a better sequel, Sniper Elite 4 is not going to win over people who disliked the previous games. The feel and action is almost exactly the same as what you saw in the 2014 model, only this time with more colorful levels and the ability to climb up pipes. It's a familiar outing that doesn't break any new ground, but fans of the series will find a lot to like about the Italian setting.

Sniper Elite 4 (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

The truth is, a lot of complaints I have can also be leveled against the previous installments. Karl is a painfully boring character who has very little to say, the missions can sometimes feel a bit repetitive and the artificial intelligence doesn't always act in a rational way. It also has some polish issues, as I ran into a couple bits where the frame rate slowed down to a crawl. All of these things have been improved in this sequel, but they still linger in one form or another.

Sniper Elite 4 may be more of the same, but it improves on the theme enough to be a worthwhile sequel. The new stages are large and diverse, the story is more engaging, there's more variety to the kill cam and the game looks better than ever. Both fans of the series and gamers looking to kick Nazi ass will find a lot to like in Sniper Elite 4. Now if only they could give Karl more of a personality.
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