Sniper Elite 5 is a massive step up from its predecessors, embracing the open-ended levels that encourage players like you to truly think before approaching each objective. Rebellion Developments really stepped up their work to deliver a great game that puts you into the tactical mind of a sniper.
There was a lot of thought into improving the core formula of Sniper Elite, adding new features such as Workbench weapon customization and Axis Invasion Modes that give the 5th game more memorable than just being a rethread of previous installments.
Sniper Elite 5 does deliver on the tense moments of carefully calculating your shot and the rewarding feeling of executing a carefully laid out plan. However in the midst of its accomplishments, it also suffers from a number of set backs that players should know before heading in.
In Sniper Elite 5, you once again play as Karl Fairburne, a rather milquetoast protagonist with a bland personality. Neither characters nor narrative are the game’s strong points as the story takes a back seat to the gameplay. There’s really nothing memorable nor interesting about Karl or his allies so it’s difficult to get invested in his quest to dismantle Nazi occupation of France.
The events that transpire in Sniper Elite 5 take place just before and during the Normandy landings of World War 2. There are only 10 missions in total, including the DLC that puts Hitler in our scopes. Each mission features a big open sandbox to explore and it can potentially take hours to complete each objective.
While Sniper Elite 5 succeeds in giving us tactical freedom to approach objectives in a variety of ways, the same cannot be said for its mission structures. I couldn’t help but feel that the mission objectives could use more variety than just kill your target, sabotage, or plant explosives. The level structure variety between missions are refreshing so it’s an easy flaw to forgive.
There is plenty of gratuitous violence and gore in Sniper Elite 5. Much like the previous games, players are treated to a generous number of slow motion kills that show the bullet blazing past the speed of sound to provide an X-ray of it penetrating the body. The feeling of carefully lining up a shot and firing at the perfect moment combined with this provides a great feeling satisfaction.
Sniper Elite 5 expands the arsenal of weapons that players can wield. Each of these weapons can be customized prestart of a mission or on any Workbenches found in the open world. The ability to change your loadout in the middle of the mission does add a level of freedom, but I was never in a position where I felt encouraged to go back and forth between Workbenches just to change the modifications I made to my rifle.
The tactical freedom you’re given in the game feels great. You can co-op with a friend then go your separate ways to accomplish objectives on your own or stick together and coordinate your approach. Unfortunately, the artificial intelligence can’t really keep up at times and fail to do basic tactics beside taking cover or swarming me ironically making them easy to line up for a shot. They never really do anything like throw a grenade where I’m at to flush me out nor provide cover fire for their friends while they get near me.
Despite the lacking AI, there is still that tension present where the burden of making a mistake can make you rethink your actions twice. Gunshots can be loud and you can mask it with environmental noise which adds a layer to strategy. Although most would probably just opt to attach silencers to their rifles and use Subsonic rounds as soon as they’re unlocked.
There is also a skill tree that players can invest skill points into that give them added perks and abilities. None of the abilities really add anything to gameplay and feel more like additional bonuses than significant character improvements.
Axis Invasion, the latest mode introduced in Sniper Elite 5 allows another player to invade campaigns. From the you get the notification that an Axis Invasion has started the momentum drastically changes as you know you are now competing with an enemy player than just the regular grunts.
I found Axis Invasion mode to be tense and a great addition to Sniper Elite. However I feel that there’s a heavy unbalance that largely favors the invader who doesn’t have to worry about sneaking around and has all the same abilities that Karl has with the exception of being able to open doors. This is especially noticeable in more condensed levels like The Spy Academy where the level structure just benefits the invader a lot more. It’s still an enjoyable unbalance regardless as the cat-and-mouse game between the two is wonderfully tense. You are able to turn this option off any time if you do not like it.
Speaking of Axis Invasion, the other PVP multiplayer segments weren’t as enjoyable as they should’ve been. Largely because of the too slow progression of earning rewards and unlocking new cosmetics and weapons.
Sniper Elite 5 is visually gorgeous. Even on my modest gaming PC, I can run the game smoothly with my RX 5500 XT 4GB. The environments are gorgeous and pleasant to look at. Even without ray tracing capabilities, the lighting is wonderfully done. When compared to its predecessor, Sniper Elite 5 is leagues above in terms of visual representation.
I did experience a few issues with the game. It wouldn’t close properly at times and there are a few glitches that prevented progress. One time I slid down a hill only for Karl to be stuck in a flailing animation that just wouldn’t stop. I had to restart the level. At one time, my co-op partner and I were convinced that our assassination target just glitched out of the game after half-an-hour of looking for him.
Besides that, there isn’t any other noticeable glitches in the game. I did notice some texture pop-ins by the far distance when I pay close attention but they’re nothing to fuss over.
Sniper Elite 5 is a great game with a few flaws that hold it back. It still shines like lens flare at the distance aiming you down. And if you let it shoot, it will catch you by the brain and truly make you do nothing but get sucked into the world of strategic sniping.
Sniper Elite 5 – Review
When the issues of a game are rolled and stomped by its greatness, then it’s something to invest on if you have some spare.