REVIEW – American World War II sniper Karl Fairburne returns to Nazi-occupied France to decimate German Army soldiers and officers again with surgical precision while performing impossible missions in the first person.
Sniper Elite has been around since 2005, but as a franchise, it really left its mark just a decade ago with the release of the Sniper Elite V2 remake. The series impressed critics with a more tactical approach to third-person shooter action in a World War II environment and an incredibly saturated period for shooting games. From V2 onwards, the famous X-ray camera shows every bloody detail when a sniper kills. As a series, it rewards careful, methodical gameplay instead of rushing from cover to cover and defeating opponents through exhaustion. Seventeen years later, the formula is still very much alive, but it has evolved and polished a lot since then. Read on for Sniper Elite 5 reviews.
Sniper and stealth hand-in-hand.
Like its predecessors, Sniper Elite 5 is a third-person sniper shooting game with stealth mechanics that puts you on a large map in each campaign mission, where you can choose different routes to complete your targets. While there are more obvious targets, such as the unnoticed killing of targets, there are also, for example, sabotages of equipment that require a little more discovery and planning and can be done in several ways. The campaign includes eight complete missions with an open map and a short closing mission, somewhere between Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid V in terms of area to explore.
The shooting action, especially the sniper game, is the most recognizable feature of the franchise, and the “trademark” X-ray element of the series returns. While the game may seem a bit selfishly violent compared to other shooting games because of this, the slow-motion shots and the sight of Nazi viscera torn apart by bullets are still somewhere amusing enough in the Fifth Sniper Elite.
The stealth element is optional, though, of course, a Metal Gear Solid fan will try to complete quests as quietly and tactfully as possible, and this is even reflected in your post-mission score. In addition to avoiding discovery, you will be rewarded if you choose a non-lethal path, either by unconsciously leaving the enemy (not deadly takeoffs or ammunition) or by preventing the action outright whenever possible. To be honest, in a Sniper Elite, too, the specific sniper is too much fun, which rewards you with a slow-motion bullet-tracking scene at professional hits and the x-rays mentioned above.
In addition to the campaign, Sniper Elite has 5 recurring cooperative missions, a multiplayer mode, a survival mode for up to 4 players, and a new mechanic, Axis Invasion, that allows players to sabotage their sniper peers online throughout the campaign. The co-op also extends to campaigns when Axis Invasion is enabled, which means that occupying players can hunt down multiple targets. Enemy multiplayer modes include Free-For-All, Team Match, Squad Match, No Cross (players only have to fight from a great distance) and Scoring.
Karl’s “vacation” in France
Of course, the protagonist of the game is Karl Fairburne, the protagonist of the franchise’s permanent eagle-eyed sniper. After the 3rd and 4th North African battlefields and the Italian campaign, Karl joins the Allied efforts leading to Operation Overlord, Operation D before and after Day D. Its strategic mission is to help the French resistance by destroying Nazi targets, weapons and defense systems while exposing the evil Kraken project. During all these hair-raising missions, it is also a personal goal for him to settle accounts with Abelard Möller, the manager of Kraken.
One plot element around the Kraken project is that Karl was placed in World War II France in this game, which is a better excuse than simply adding a few new tracks. It would have been too predictable and stencilled for Karl to help the Allies storm the coasts of Normandy instead of “what if the Nazis were preparing for a D-Day counterattack?” focuses on thought. However, as the game progresses, the various plot elements, game mechanisms, and characters are undoubtedly familiar from other games or even movies and aren’t much different from a typical World War II stealth shooter game.
Part of the magic of Sniper Elite 5, and shared with other games in the franchise, is to put it on a World War II sandbox-style map and let you dictate what happens next. The enemy doesn’t know about your presence, and it’s up to you to decide how deadly you will be able to knock out your opponents on a mission or instead slaughter everyone like Rambo. You can choose dangerous sniper shooting while taking advantage of the environment and horizon to make the enemy guess where the fire is coming from; you can play methodically, quietly, taking down the enemy up close so as not to make noise or alarm. You will be the master of your destiny, and you will decide how intense an experience you want.
This kind of stealth and discovery isn’t entirely new. It has been present in many games over the years, most notably in Metal Gear Solid or Splinter Cell. Stealth missions and open tracks are pretty present in both franchises and have helped them define the genre. At the same time, Sniper Elite builds on its legacy while expanding with the bloody, realistic sniper gameplay typical of its own franchise. When you get into a firefight in Survivor mode, which is nothing more than a tower defense game, enemy artificial intelligence approaches you and changes your tactics like Halo. Plus, when you encounter enemy bases, you’ll notice alarm panels that the enemy can use to alert you to your presence and signal additional reinforcements, which is a bit reminiscent of Far Cry.
Enhancing the freedom to do whatever you want on a particular level, Sniper Elite 5 offers plenty of collectables and secondary goals. You can gain experience points or even unlock additional weapons that better suit your specific style of play. During missions, we also get “assassinations” (unique targets), which also provide a different gaming experience and the usual elements. Particularly memorable moments include gathering information about the V2 missile facility or leaving behind a rat-shaped bomb to a vital target who loves to shoot rodents. The game also rewards players who return and explore other areas or play differently.
This freedom is enhanced by the ability to customize your weapons and equipment, such as grenades, disposable items, and accessories for all three weapons you can take with you. You can unlock more by exploring the game, completing secondary targets and assassinations, and finding secrets like additional workbenches where you can change your gear while sitting.
While this game also has plenty of elements from other franchises, it has been fooled around with quite a few new ideas to stand out from the rest. That X-ray camera never gets boring. It works excellent on next-gen hardware as well, giving you a complete “how your body works” level insight into the Nazi musculoskeletal and bone systems while just shooting out one of their eyes. There is no other game that would cause so much morbid satisfaction and so much shiver at the same time when you hit a person in one of your vital organs.
An exciting new game mode
Axis Invasion is precisely the kind of refinement in the formula that makes Sniper Elite even more standstill among shooting games. It essentially allows people to join other players’ campaign sessions, but as an enemy sniper, it’s essentially an invasion formula known from Souls games. Suppose you play the campaign, and this option is turned on (it can only be turned on and off in the campaign menu at the bottom of the options). In that case, you will receive a bonus EXP for defeating the invading snipers and completing the mission; you will receive points for unlockable items, including cosmetics and other weapons for your occupying av if you are an occupier.
Invasion in the session puts the experience on top of your head. You are now being hunted unlike other Sniper Elite games, where you could rightly expect to go at your own pace and carefully clear your way to the finish line. In addition, during the occupation (indicated by a red banner in the upper left corner of the screen), you can use an otherwise unavailable feature on the map. Under the guise of a German officer, you can contact the enemy by phone and find out the location of the occupier or the player. And if the occupier is a trained sniper, the occupation can end cruelly quickly or lead to bloodshed when Karl fires and misleads the occupier, alerting other nearby soldiers.
It can be infuriating when you carefully sneak through a series of heavily reinforced bunkers or hide among vehicle patrols. Suddenly, another player attacks, panicking you and forcing you to make some bad decisions. But that’s precisely why it can be fun – for whom, what. However, if you’re a player who doesn’t like the experience of the potential stress that comes with it, simply turn it off.
The Sniper Elite 5 can provide a truly breathtaking sight, with a massive range of devices installed in the environment and vehicles and weapons you can encounter or use. Particularly spectacular sites include the majestic architecture shown on the map of Beaumont-Saint-Denis and the magnificent French countryside with apple orchards, lavender fields, and plenty of tall grass that provides cover. Enemy vehicles look convincing and realistic, and the weapons are well designed.
Unfortunately, there’s some joy in the joy that the character models are pretty outdated, which seems a bit disappointing, especially in light of how much potential the rest of the game world shows. In this area, the game seems to have fallen back into the dawn of the previous generation (in fact, in some places, it rubs off the visual world of the PS3 and Xbox 360), which is unfortunate as we’re slowly beyond this point a decade.
On the positive side, however, the visual effects, including particles and explosions, are really quite percussive in this game, including the development of the water and fog effects. It’s also breathtaking how a racing bullet spins towards a soldier sentenced to death, or the detonation of explosives next to a red barrel of oil results in violent, earth-shattering chain reactions on an unsuspecting armoured vehicle, an absolute sinful pleasure for our little pyromaniac soul. Lastly, let’s not forget the splendid sight of the beautiful scenery of the French landscape from the top of a high mountain or another vantage point.
Unfortunately, I’m pretty serious about the joy of a nasty graphics bug that I experienced during my PlayStation 5 test and which, moreover, came up quite often. Sometimes a subtle dark “mesh” appears on the screen, which I’ve seen in other buggy games and is highly confusing. A software patch came on May 24, but unfortunately, this bug remained in Sniper Elite 5. We hope the next patch will improve this.
There are even minor graphics bugs, but even more confusing is that there are a bit of “delays” in the animations at times, and they can be deadly when the enemy sees you. And overall, he still bears the somewhat clunky control of the game series, the sometimes lame, stiff animation, and other amateur solutions like the one in Metal Gear Solid V.
Sounds of War
Sniper Elite 5 also makes good use of sound effects, and this also applies to gameplay, such as when you use them to mask the noise of a shot. The planes flying overhead, or the general sounds of warfare, provide perfect noise pollution that allows us to shoot with impunity from cover while the enemy hears nothing from it. But effects like the eerie wailing of airborne sirens that echo among the ruins of St. Nazaire are also moody enough.
The game is meant to give back a war-torn, occupied France that can only be hoped for by Allied forces. The music in the game is more appropriate than outstanding, and it has more atmospheric parts and more boring or meaningless melodies. This atmosphere is often perfectly reflected in the gloomier musical effects, including the accordion, which is a popular instrument in French culture, even though it originated in Germany. At other times, however, that vibe is just ruined by more comical musical inserts, such as in the fourth quest, where woodwinds and strings create an almost comical tension – as if we were watching some kind of war film comedy.
Karl is not an “inglorious basterd”
So far, I haven’t written much about the game’s story, but in truth, there’s not much at all, because, again, it’s just that much (though now the makers have been trying harder). The protagonist, Karl Fairburne, for example, is sheer boredom. Even though he has an exciting background that he has played to his advantage in the past, nothing in Karl could make him minimally interesting or memorable. Born in Germany but of British American descent, he used this in the past to infiltrate the enemy. It might even be unique, but it has no significance in terms of storytelling and character development. Karl is the usual Class B action movie hero who follows the clichés of “fuck the rules, I do what I think is right”. Besides, he has no more interesting qualities, or at least a more elaborate scene or dialogue so that we can be connected to him. In other words, it’s not in this game that we’ll relive Inglorious Basterds, but Solid Snake, or even Sam Fisher’s dry humour and macho character, are totally missing. Karl is still just an American sniper who is excellent at aiming and killing Germans; that’s all we can say about him. It’s a shame because this way, the developers could have shaped something in the character of the fifth part.
Sniper Elite 5 further refines and refines the formula solidified by V2 in 2012, and the Axis Invasion mentioned earlier is a great new feature. The meticulously crafted view of the great locations in France largely compensates for the blocky character models, and the X-ray views during the killer hits remain incredibly amusing. The more emphatic use of the stealth element and the more complex missions performed on larger levels are also highly positive. However, it was a shame for the PS5 graphics bug and the bland protagonist. We hope that the sixth part of the series will develop in this area.
We received the game code from Magnew Ltd.
+ A great mix of classic sniper and stealth gameplay
+ The X-ray camera is still very percussive
+ The development of the French environment is also on top
– A pretty important, common graphics bug on PS5
– Developing human models isn’t real
– The story is flat, and the protagonist is bland
Publisher: Rebellion Developments
Developer: Rebellion Developments
Style: Sniper and stealth TPS
Published: May 26, 2022