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June 2024

Sniper Elite 5

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Developer: Rebellion
Release Date: May 26, 2022

About Tony "OUberLord" Mitera

I've been entrenched in the world of game reviews for almost a decade, and I've been playing them for even longer. I'm primarily a PC gamer, though I own and play pretty much all modern platforms. When I'm not shooting up the place in the online arena, I can be found working in the IT field, which has just as many computers but far less shooting. Usually.


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PC Review - 'Sniper Elite 5'

by Tony "OUberLord" Mitera on May 25, 2022 @ 4:00 a.m. PDT

Sniper Elite 5 will see elite marksman Karl Fairburne travel to France in 1944 to destroy Operation Kraken.

Buy Sniper Elite 5

There's something to be said about nailing a formula and sticking to it. Granted, Sniper Elite 5 isn't without new trick shots of its own compared to previous games in the series. The X-ray kill cam has been tweaked, protagonist Karl Fairburne has some new traversal abilities, and you can now customize your weapons extensively. Despite the new additions, the gameplay doesn't feel dramatically different, and I'm convinced that is a good thing. Sneaking around and sniping Nazis is an engaging as it ever has been, and Sniper Elite 5 leans into that just as strongly as it has in previous games in the series.

I'm not even mad that we're back in France in a World War II game. For this mission, Karl has been sent to the country to establish contact with the local resistance and get leads on a new Nazi secret weapon codenamed "Project Kraken." Through the game's 10 missions, Karl ends up sneaking and shooting his way through a variety of large areas. The very first mission is a landscape like what you'd imagine on the beaches of Normandy, with lots of hedgerows and clearly dug-in German emplacements. Later on, you fight your way through environments such the grounds of a very large mansion, a secret U-boat base, or a rather large town with a dizzying amount of twisting alleyways and elevation changes.

It's a Sniper Elite game, so of course, you're going to do a fair amount of long-range marksmanship. The sniping system remains essentially unchanged from Sniper Elite 4, with the ability to adjust your weapon's zeroing and empty your lungs to stabilize your shot. On the lower difficulty levels, emptying your lungs also slows down time and shows an indicator of where the shot will land, which also turns red if it will be a kill shot. On higher difficulty levels, this isn't present, and getting some of the long-range shot challenges that are available for each level will be quite the challenge on the "Authentic" difficulty.

Karl always brings a primary and secondary weapon as well as a handgun into the field, but this time around, the player can also swap out parts of them between missions and at various workbenches. There are three workbenches in every level, one for each weapon type, and finding one unlocks additional modification parts for the related weapon type. For the most part, every weapon can have its barrel, grip, muzzle, scope, stock, and other elements changed out, and each category has a number of options to unlock. Swapping out parts is usually a tradeoff that you must make in accordance with however you are building the weapon.

For example, putting a suppressor on your sniper rifle will make it quieter and able to be heard at shorter ranges, but different suppressors may also increase the bullet drop of the weapon, reduce its damage, or make the aim swap more pronounced. A magazine of overpressure rounds will do more damage at the expense of being louder and adding more recoil. What's useful is you can compare colored bars for each of the four basic "stats" … or you can switch over to an incredibly detailed weapon stats comparison with a few dozen options that show exactly how the weapon is changing with different mod choices. It's an incredibly compelling system and allows players to tailor each weapon for the exact situation.

It wouldn't be a game in the series without the "X-ray kill cam" making a comeback, and it certainly has with Sniper Elite 5. Shooting an enemy with a rifle results in a small cut scene that shows the bullet's travel, which you can also slow down or speed up, and you can move the camera around a little bit. Once the bullet impacts the target, the game shows an X-ray view as the bullet perforates organs, breaks bones, or rips through musculature. The kill cam is also applied to the use of secondary weapons, handgun shots, and the occasional stealth kill, showing exactly how Karl's knife is absolutely ruining a Nazi's shift.

Compared to previous games, it almost seems a little less detailed this time around. The character innards are more defined, but other than a heart exploding or a lung collapsing, most of the damage is obscured with gratuitous sprays of blood that mask the carnage that's occurring behind them. You'll occasionally see vertebrae go flying because of a body shot or something similar, but it seems somewhat arbitrary given the otherwise obscured view. As fun as the feature has been with the series, it is the one area where Sniper Elite 5 feels a little too familiar — to the point that it isn't even shock value anymore and may instead be that the kill cam has finally overstayed its welcome.

You'll be sniping often in the game, or else the "Sniper" in the title wouldn't make much sense. However, in close quarters, you'll often use a secondary weapon or handgun or simply sneak up to enemies to take them out silently with a knife. The stealth mechanics are also largely unchanged from Sniper Elite 4, but this is another area where I think that is a good thing. When you're spotted by an enemy, a white bar fills up, and then it fills to a yellow bar to signify that the enemy saw something suspicious and you have his attention. If the yellow bar fills to red, the enemy realizes you are a threat and will begin to take cover and open fire. Your stance affects the range at which you are detected and how quickly the bar fills, so you'll often crouch-walk or crawl around to sneak around or up to enemies.

With the size and relatively open nature of each level, you'll certainly get plenty of opportunities to do all the above. While every level has a primary objective that you must complete before going to the extraction point, you will also uncover one or more secondary objectives to earn additional experience toward ranking up Karl. Every level also has a kill target to take out; simply killing them grants experience, but killing them in the specific way listed also unlocks a new weapon once Karl exfiltrates the area. Want to unlock the Kar98k? Sure, but first you have to confirm a kill by dropping a chandelier on a German officer who undoubtedly deserves it.

Just about anything you do in Sniper Elite 5 grants experience toward ranking up, which is how you get skill points to spend in the game's three categories. Each one is a loosely related collection of skills and lets you improve Karl's abilities, such as having greater health, lowering the heart rate increase from sprinting, bringing a special ammo type into the field for each weapon, etc. None of them are huge game-changers, and after the first few, you just throw points in wherever it seems to match up with your play style. At the very least, there's nothing in them that unlocks entirely new abilities.

That's fine because Karl has already picked up a few tricks in his downtime between games. You can now climb up vines, shimmy along ledges, climb from windowsill to windowsill, kill enemies from below, or slide down ziplines. There's a lot more mobility this time around, which primarily factors into your ability to sneak around but also helps to get into positions to better line up sniper shots. It really opens how you can approach an area, and it lets you experiment.

The campaign mode can be played solo or with a friend in drop-in co-op mode, where you work with a buddy to take out two enemies at the same time. The campaign can also have the optional Invasion mode turned on, which allows a player to drop into the game as an elite enemy sniper with the sole task of taking you out. This player can buff other enemy troops to make them more observant and get more information about the player's location. Meanwhile, the campaign player can use invasion phones to get more info about the enemy player's position — assuming the enemy hasn't first booby-trapped them. It sounds like a fun game of cat and mouse overlaid upon the already strong campaign, but given the pre-release copy, I didn't get to check this out firsthand.

The same can be said about the adversarial multiplayer mode, which pits teams of various sizes against each other to see which one comes out on top. It sounds like fun, and I look forward to checking it out once the game launches later this week. The survival mode is a cooperative experience that has up to four players working to repel waves of Nazi invaders across a series of points on the map that need to be held. While you can play the mode solo, as I did, it is clearly intended for at least a couple of players, as the number of enemies coming from several directions becomes awfully chaotic near the end of a map's run.

In many ways Sniper Elite 5 is Sniper Elite 4 with a few new features and a fresh coat of paint, and I'm happy that this is the case. Except for the kill cam novelty having entirely worn off at this point, most of the gameplay still feels fresh. Sneaking around and lining up shots are equally rewarding, and the large, open levels give you plenty of freedom to tackle each objective in the way that you want. Sniper Elite 5 provides players with the necessary tools to feel like an elite sniper who's using superior tactics and stealth to take down a bunch of Nazis, and the game has certainly hit the bull's-eye.

Score: 9.0/10

Reviewed on: AMD Ryzen 7 3700X, 32 GB RAM, NVidia RTX 3080

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