Sniper Elite 5 Review – Crack Shot

Sniper Elite 5 is unmissable for anyone with even a passing interest in stealth games.

Posted By | On 25th, May. 2022

Sniper Elite 5 Review – Crack Shot

The Sniper Elite franchise has grown a great deal in the nearly-two decades that it’s been around. While sniping and tactical shooting has been one of its primary focuses since its inception, more and more with each new game, the series has put a greater emphasis on stealth as well. 2017’s Sniper Elite 4 was a significant step forward for the series on that front, and now, Sniper Elite 5 has built on that formula once again, combining sandbox maps, stealth, and sniping to deliver an immaculately designed experience that far exceeds anything Sniper Elite has done in the past.

Sniper Elite 5 is much bigger, much more full-featured, and much more polished than past instalments- though it is still very much a AA game, of course. That lack of a blockbuster budget shows in some obvious ways- visually, the game is solid, but will never come close to knocking your socks off, with animations and facial models in particular coming across decidedly aged, while you’ll also occasionally run into the odd audio or graphical bug. Narrative and storytelling, meanwhile, also take a backseat once again, and though the game does have a few (rather unremarkable) cutscenes here and there, the bulk of the story is relegated to mid-mission debriefings that are little more than voice overs over static screens.

"Sniper Elite 5 has built on that formula once again, combining sandbox maps, stealth, and sniping to deliver an immaculately designed experience that far exceeds anything Sniper Elite has done in the past."

But what Sniper Elite 5 lacks in production value, it more than makes up for with its excellent design and gameplay. The core pillars of the foundation laid down in past Sniper Elite games – level design, stealth, and sniping – have all been expanded upon and improved in significant ways, and the result is an impeccable military stealth shooter that will keep its hooks in you from beginning to end, while constantly getting better and more engaging throughout its runtime.

Once again, Sniper Elite 5 puts you in the shoes of series protagonist Karl Fairburne. It’s 1944, and the game kicks off with you sneaking up the beaches of France. From there, over the course of eight lengthy missions, Sniper Elite 5 sees Karl unraveling the mysteries of a top-secret Nazi project known as Operation: Kraken, dismantling it, and, of course, killing a whole lot of Nazis. The story is there as little more than set dressing, and the game makes very little effort to grow it into something beyond that. In any other game, that would have been disappointing, but Sniper Elite 5 knows exactly what it’s good at, and wastes no time in getting you right into the thick of things.

Each of Sniper Elite 5’s eight missions is set in large, sandbox maps, and other than the point where that mission begins and the point where you have to exfiltrate after you’ve completed your primary objective, nothing else is predefined or scripted. Enemies patrol different areas, take breaks and have conversations with each other, primary and secondary targets can be found at different locations based on how you’re tackling the map, and land, air, and sea vehicles run their own routes. Any objectives that you have to accomplish, you can accomplish in any number of ways. Tasked with disabling a massive gun battery, you can either feed sabotaged shells into it or just infiltrate its base and shut down its generator. To kill a specific target, you can either climb to a vantage point and try to snipe them from a distance, or instead choose to sneak through their defenses and try and take them head on.

sniper elite 5

"Each of Sniper Elite 5’s eight missions is set in large, sandbox maps, and other than the point where that mission begins and the point where you have to exfiltrate after you’ve completed your primary objective, nothing else is predefined or scripted."

It helps that enemy AI is excellent. Enemies have excellent sight and sound, can spot you from considerable distances and be alerted by any loud sounds you make, and once they spot you, or find anything out of the ordinary that raises suspicion, they go to great lengths to flush you out. Their search areas are surprisingly large, their efforts to seek you out surprisingly long-lasting, their movements surprisingly erratic and unpredictable, and their coordination surprisingly meticulous. Even on normal difficulty, you’ll find that cheesing your way past encounters is far from easy. Sniper Elite 5 encourages you to make full use not only of your arsenal, but also of your surroundings and the game’s own mechanics. On paper, that sounds like the ideal stealth experience- and that’s exactly what this game is. It nails the fundamentals of the genre, so that every moment feels intense and tactical.

Every mission comes with a single main objective, but the true joy of Sniper Elite 5 is in exploring its maps, retrieving intel, uncovering side missions and objectives, and taking those on. From destroying bunkers along the beach in one map to sneaking into a spy academy in another to take down the person running it to tracking down and assassinating the optional kill targets that roam each map, Sniper Elite 5’s maps have plenty going on that begs you to steer away from the critical path. And without fail, doing so is always incredibly engaging and rewarding. Add to that collectibles, challenges, and other optional tasks, such as eavesdropping on conversations to gather more intel or finding weapon workbenches, three of which are scattered in each map, and the result is each level feeling like it’s packed full of captivating content that will not only make your first playthrough special, but also make the prospect of replays seem incredibly alluring. Even a single playthrough of the campaign can take you anywhere between 15-20 hours though, depending on how you’re playing, so even if you’re just looking to go through each mission once, there’s plenty here to keep you occupied.

Exploring Sniper Elite 5’s maps is made even more enjoyable because of how large and excellently designed they are. Without a doubt, level design has to be one of the game’s biggest strengths. They boast impressive variety, taking you from beachside villages to beautiful country to heavily guarded chateaus to actual fortresses. Variety is on full display even within single maps, and even a single mission can present you with a number of different challenges and obstacles based on how its map is designed. Verticality is something else that consistently remains a core pillar of the game’s level design, and the expanded movement options of Sniper Elite 5 – entailing ziplines, some limited climbing, shimmying along ledges, and more – only serve to highlight that. Simply moving around the maps, making your way through their varied locations and environments, and making use of the level design to sneak past enemies remains consistently thrilling throughout the experience.

sniper elite 5

"Sniper Elite 5 encourages you to make full use not only of your arsenal, but also of your surroundings and the game’s own mechanics. On paper, that sounds like the ideal stealth experience- and that’s exactly what this game is. It nails the fundamentals of the genre, so that every moment feels intense and tactical."

Of course, while stealth has been improved and expanded to the point where it feels like the heart and soul of the experience, the sniping, too, remains as important as ever. It’s called Sniper Elite, after all. Factors such as wind drop and distance remain as crucial as ever, and pulling off the perfect headshot from hundreds of meters never quite gets old. The signature x-ray kill cam returns as well, and can be triggered for everything from rifles and SMGs to pistols and even knife kills- and watching those gory explosions as bullets tear through bodies and shatter bones in their path is just as gratifying as always.

Regular gunplay has also seen some improvements. Out-and-out combat is never quite the ideal way to go in Sniper Elite 5, just like its predecessors, but here, if you are forced to resort to it, it at least feels serviceable. Guns feel decent to shoot, movement and aiming don’t feel as off as they did in Sniper Elite 4, and there’s a decent variety of weapons to use as well. It’s still not nearly as tight as it should be, and over-the-shoulder aiming in particular can feel a little wonky, but considering the fact that the shooting is a tertiary aspect of the game at best, it at least hits the minimum required standard.

Customization, meanwhile, is far more engaging. Each weapon can be customized in any number of ways, with different attachments like muzzles, stocks, barrels, scopes, and more changing their stats significantly. The changes you make actually feel meaningful and tangible, more often than not, which means unlocking new weapons and new attachments feels inherently more rewarding and satisfying as well. Sadly, while weapon customization and upgrades are solid, character progression remains bland and uninteresting. Karl has three main groups of skills that he can invest points into, but the upgrades that you unlock are, without fail, painfully generic and boring, like adding an extra bar of health, or expanding the range of your listening abilities, or having better stamina. Meta-progression, however, fares slightly better, as you earn experience and rank up with each successful mission or multiplayer outing, while also earning medals and the like. It’s fairly cookie-cutter, sure, but it’s effective, if nothing else.

sniper elite 5

"Without a doubt, level design has to be one of the game’s biggest strengths."

Meanwhile, Sniper Elite 5 has a healthy suite of multiplayer offerings as well. The campaign can be played in co-op, while there’s a wave-based co-op mode on offer in Survival as well, which is a decent add-on for those who’re looking for short bursts of fun- though the focus here is very much on the shooting rather than the stealth, which makes the mode inherently less enjoyable as far as I’m concerned. A new Invasions mechanic has also been introduced, which allows players to invade each other’s campaigns if you have invasions turned on in your campaign. These are particularly thrilling encounters, especially if you’re the one that’s doing the invading, and carefully travelling through the map as you hunt down your foe. Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to get much of a taste of Sniper Elite 5’s PvP multiplayer component, because matches have been particularly tough to find during the review period. Hopefully the game will fare better once it has released.

Sniper Elite has been steadily building up to greatness over the last few installments, and with this newest game, it comes as close to achieving that stature as it ever has been. In fact, if we approach it purely from a design and mechanical perspective, even the somewhat less engaging combat and other fringe issues don’t really detract from the fact that it pretty much has achieved those lofty ambitions at this point. While Sniper Elite 5 does have some issues, the core gameplay and design are so incredibly engaging and consistently responsive to the player, it very much stands as one of the better stealth experiences in recent years, and easily as the best Sniper Elite game to date.

Oh, and the sniping feels pretty darn good, too.

This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 5.


THE GOOD

Impeccable stealth, thanks to excellent implemented gameplay systems and impressive AI; Sniping is as satisfying as ever; Gory x-ray kill cams; Gunplay has seen improvements; Incredible level design, with large and varied maps; Offers a great deal of freedom in what to do and how to tackle objectives; Each map is brimming with side missions, optional objectives, collectibles, and more; Tons of replay value; Invasions are tense.

THE BAD

Underwhelming story and storytelling; Lacking in production value; Bland progression.

Final Verdict:
GREAT
Sniper Elite 5 is a top-notch stealth game. It might not have the flair of a AAA blockbuster, but thanks to its incredible stealth mechanics and its intricate and meticulously crafted levels, it is mighty impressive in the areas the count the most.
A copy of this game was provided by Developer/Publisher/Distributor/PR Agency for review purposes. Click here to know more about our Reviews Policy.

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