SNIPER ELITE 5 (PS4) – A Review

Overall, this latest installment of Rebellion’s tactical shooter follows a well-tested formula. Stealth, combat and sniping are as solid as ever and there are a few new features that I really like. Read up on those here SNIPER ELITE 5 (PS4) – First Look.

Expect some minor SPOILERS for the SNIPER ELITE 5 single player campaign. I will be detailing Survival, Co-op, Axis Invasion and Multiplayer in another post once I have tried those out.

A very nice aerial shot.

The Story Is Simple

What is interesting about SNIPER ELITE 5’s story is the fact that it is a kinda prequel to SNIPER ELITE V2 (SNIPER ELITE V2 is exhiliarating fun), Rebellion’s first title of the series. So, after his stint in Italy during SNIPER ELITE 4, Karl joins forces with the Rangers and the French Resistance to prepare the Allies’ forces landing on the beaches of Normandy.

Left pretty much alone behind enemy lines he soon discovers another super secret program called “Kraken”, which involves not only the Reich, but another one of its allies. Karl’s mission then is collecting intel on the project and effectively shutting it down.

But not everything goes as planned….

Karl and Marie.

Characters Are Overrated

SNIPER ELITE is Karl Fairburne’s show and while the games usually have at least one sidekick to engage in some banter – with the exception of SNIPER ELITE V2 – the supporting cast simply serves to offer some clues and tips concerning the missions and the overall goal.

There are a few people Karl gets to interact with. Mostly, that is Charlie aka Blue Viper, his informant on the ground. She is also the liaison to the French resistance which in turn is represented by another woman named Marie. Almost felt like Sniper Ghost Warrior 3, but only almost.

Then there is the bad guy, who is a properly evil Nazi, of course. His last name is Müller, his first name unpronouncable, at least I, as a native speaker, did not understand it and I had the subtitles disabled. Maybe Adebar? Adalbert? His conversations with his underlings and Karl himself are basically a recap of Fairburne’s previous adventures. Yep, our boy Karl aka Desert Ghost aka The Shadow is a very notorious commando. Which is why this soon turns into Karl’s private crusade against Müller, who unhappily accepts the challenge.

Hello? Is it me you’re looking for?

The Locations Are Gorgeous

Set in France, we are treated to beaches, mountains, cities and picturesque villages. The colors are beautiful, the maps large – offering multiple points of entry as well as hidden routes to circumvent and surprise the enemy – and the installations Fairburne has to infiltrate are suitably gloomy and depressing as well as challenging, stealthwise.

My favorite maps so far are the Occupied Residence, an imposing castle in the countryside, and Libération, also set in the countryside, in a picturesque but unfortunately occupied village.

To get around those locations, you can use the traversal system that now includes climbing up vines or using ziplines for a quick getaway. You are now also able to dismantle barricaded entrances and open doors and windows. Bolt-cutters and crow bars will come in handy when breaking into boxes or disabling security systems.

One of the tougher missions.

There are a couple of really hairy missions, not least of all the third one, Spy Academy, which has Karl sneak into a close quarters city crawling with Nazis. There are also a few snipers covering the approach. It would be easy taking them out from a distance, despite the fog obscuring the view at times, but I had accidentally packed a Gewehr, a rifle with zero scoping ability. So I really had to go in up close and personal, which was also great.

Enemies Are Tough

Speaking of up close and personal, there are a few changes to enemies, too. There are grunts, tougher Jäger troops, elite Vampire Jäger troops – as opposed to the Valkyrie Jäger troops of SNIPER ELITE 4 – officers and snipers you have to deal with. Also, some tanks and armored vehicles, and a new edition, the motorbike. That one will be patrolling some maps so tagging them is a good idea to avoid being spotted while relocating to a new hiding spot.

While Jäger and officers will frequently resist a frontal assault when you try to take them out in close quarters, normal grunts are easy to kill. Or to pacify, which is now an option. Yes, you can take them out without killing them.

As for tanks and armored cars, you will find that it is no longer possible to easily shoot the driver or gunner, which was one of my highlights in SNIPER ELITE 4. But, it makes things more difficult, which is a plus in my book.

Here’s what the new Skill Tree looks like.

Combat Hasn’t Changed

I really like the mix of stealth, tactical shooting and combat that SNIPER ELITE offers. Your best option is playing it stealthy, since alarms raised mean reinforcements and you will be very quickly outgunned and outnumbered with nowhere to go. That is especially true for the Wolf Mountain-DLC.

So, keep your distance, sound-mask your shots and relocate before the enemy makes your position. The scope will assist you immensely in landing the perfect kill shot with your rifle. At times, though, you will have to cope with low visibility – often in the coastal areas -, which is awesome.

In close quarter combat it is a good idea not to take on more than two enemies at once. Best to sneak up on them to land the killing blow or pacify them. Once you are surrounded, you will go down. Use a med kit or bandages to revive yourself, but, before you do, try to thin out the enemy ranks opposing you. Thanks to an upgrade in your Skill Tree you can use both pistol AND SMG while lying on the ground, which can be a literal life saver.

Finished the campaign, but there are a lot of fun things still to discover.

The Verdict

As I mentioned in the beginning, I really like the new features that SNIPER ELITE 5 offers. The story is the same old one, which is fine with me, though I had hoped for more surprises. Stealth is challenging and I will definitely try for a more pacifistic and stealthy playthrough for the next one.

I am also looking forward to Survival and Co-op-missions. Rest assured that some of you will also find me infiltrating your game during Axis Invasion.

Until then, keep on playing!