Sniper Elite 4 is a third person shooter game that can be played solo, cooperatively or against other players. As the player you take on the role of a Allied commando/sniper tasked with missions you’d likely expect such as eliminating certain people and gathering intelligence. The campaign mode starts on the fictional island of San Celini in 1943 where you are tasked with the killing of German officers.
This game effectively has three play modes. Single player campaign, cooperative campaign and player vs. player multiplayer. All of these game modes will require patience on the part of the player. This isn’t CoD or Battlefield and running around like a lunatic spraying and praying will get you killed very quickly. Bullet damage is pretty realistic as are some of the shooting mechanics. You will want to move slowing, properly inspect an area and plan your course of action accordingly.
You can mark targets and objects with your binoculars which feature 2-20x zoom. Marking targets takes a moment, but will also gather you information on the item or person you are marking that goes well beyond the range to target.
With people, information like the weapons they are carrying, their status and something about them such as “Ewald Ansel, regularly steals chocolate from his best friend…”. You can also gain information on the contents of an object that you can shoot to cause an explosion, an object you can break or the status of a vehicle (you can destroy them too).
Once people are marked they will stay marked even if they pass out of your view but will be shown as a grey outline, or partial grey outline, if they or part of them is behind an object that is between you and them.
You can switch some gear, such as weapons via your number keys while other items, such as your “tactical rock” which you use to distract people you’d like to slip past, are easily available via a radial menu.
As previously mentioned this game is fairly realistic. Running depletes your breathing ability which alters your ability to shoot accurately, especially at longer ranges. Bullets also drop and are affected by wind which you must compensate for using your range adjustment and the wind-meter at the top of your reticle.
When entering “Empty Lung Mode,” in all but the hardest settings you will get a diamond that tightens down over time and indicates where the round will actually hit in comparison to your crosshair. You can use this feature to make precise shots on people or on objects that break or explode. Breaking certain objects allows you to take out multiple targets at once or make it look like they were the victim of a terrible accident.
Further on the realism front, loud noises such as low flying aircraft will cover the noise of your gunshots even if you’re using regular ammo. You can also plant mines to protect your position or to take down roving infantry once you’ve patterned their patrol movements. You can move bodies so that they’re not discovered and search them for intelligence, side mission items such as letters home, ammo and medical supplies.
Sound in general is also important, especially in multi-player, noises you make can give away your position. However, you can also use sound to your advantage by making the AI think you’re in a previous position, a position which you have never taken up or by getting them to investigate something that takes them off their normal path.
The single-player version of this game features the cinematic cut scenes for many of your shots which the franchise is known for. They’re really pretty cool and well done down to the bullet deforming as it passes through the target but they may be a bit overused. Still, all in all it’s a cool feature that shows the internal damage the bullet does to the target and if you get sick of them you can skip the scene and move on.
The game will award you XP for placing your shots well and tell you where fatal shots hit the target in both single and multiplayer modes. Points are also awarded for “infantry kills” using non-sniper firearms or a knife with sneakier kills awarding bonuses as well.
Multiplayer in Sniper Elite 4 comes in a variety of play modes. Team Deathmatch is a classic, but the game also includes “Distance King” where points are awarded for long shots and the team making the longest shots wins. There’s also “No Cross TDM” which features an impassible no-man’s land that separates the teams from each other as well as “Control” and “Elimination” game types.
Scoring in multiplayer tends to be low. While the servers can be setup however the owner likes to limit weapons, time per round and kills to win the number of kills to win is not generally high. This is good because competitive multiplayer games require patience and skill. You won’t spend a lot of time moving around but rather waiting for the enemy to come to you so long play times or high kill requirements would take an obnoxiously long time to complete.
At this point Sniper Elite 4 has a fair amount of DLC content including expansion missions that can be complete cooperatively, skin packs, character packs and weapons packs.
Guns and Gear
The guns and gear in this game are pretty accurate historically speaking. In single player your primary weapon before you unlock others is a M1903 Springfield backed up by a Thompson and a Welrod pistol. While the first two are cool, it’s particularly interesting that the game developers picked something not only as useful as a Welrod but also as obscure. While perhaps not as unknown to TTAG readership, it’s certainly not as well known as the M1911 that features so heavily in other World War II games.
Of course, after you kill some Nazi scum you can pilfer their weapons as well or simply pick up the ones they seem to leave lying around much more often than the author suspects Wehrmacht regulations allowed. The base knife for this game is an Fairburn-Sikes (FS) knife which you can also use to great effect for silent kills or to get rid of that guy you didn’t notice and let get too close.
Really, as much as I’d like to nerd out about the guns and gear in this game there isn’t a whole lot of point in that since most readers are already probably familiar with a lot of WWII weaponry and the upgrades you can unlock for weapons are basic such as an increase in damage, reduction in recoil, enhanced scope zoom or increased accuracy and range for a submachine gun. Back in the 1940’s they didn’t have high tech things like laser designators, fancy optics or a zillion items to hang on your pic rail and so this game doesn’t have them.
It’s also true the game is more about how you play rather than what you play with. It’s a shooter strategy game as opposed to a game where you unlock faster firing weapons so you can mow down Nazis like so much grass. The guns and gear are pretty accurate historically but there’s no point in dedicating a whole paragraph to the “Potato Masher” grenade.
That said, if you salivate at the idea of a game with very realistic WWII guns you’ll probably like this one.
SE4 is a fun game in both multiplayer and single player modes, but may not have the longevity of some other games. It has good physics and is well rendered. It does have some obnoxious bugs, though, like the fact that some fences can’t be jumped, but overall it’s well done.
Difficulty in single-player mode can be changed on the fly if the game is too easy or too hard for your tastes and load times are faster than the author expected. Controls are smooth and intuitive though you’ll want to start out reading your options because some buttons have multiple uses depending on what you’re interacting with.
This game depends almost entirely on stealth and therefore requires more patience than most shooter games. Enemy weapons do massive damage to the point that a shot on you with a K98 will probably be lethal in the harder difficulty settings of single player. Therefore you will want to really think about what you’re doing and plan your attacks carefully.
If you miss that one guy he might ruin your whole day. The game does save itself often however so if Hans gets the drop on you the whole mission doesn’t have to be replayed. The downside to this is that if you get into a bad spot it’s possible the last save point won’t help you much.
It’s also worth noting that if you’re into multiplayer, this game doesn’t seem to have the massive player base of a game like Call of Duty. Servers are small and not necessarily highly populated. Multiplayer could also be frustratingly slow if you’re more of an action junkie.
Multiplayer can also be very challenging as you learn the maps because generally speaking if you get shot you’ll have no idea where it came from since this game has no kill cams. That can be annoying but once you find a good spot you can stack up kills on other players quickly and not have to worry about immediately changing your position.
Ratings (out of five stars):
Graphics: * * * * *
The graphics in this game are very good and modern yet they somehow manage to pull off an old WWII movie feel. Plants are nicely rendered and while their motion might not be perfect it’s clear the developers put some time and effort into them so that they’re not spritely.
Physics: * * * * *
The physics for this game are excellent. The way wind affects bullet placement while gravity affects drop is nicely done and forces the player to actually get used to what they’re doing, take their time and get the shot placement right.
Story: * * *
It’s a pretty standard storyline. It’s not bad but nothing to write home about either.
Playability: * * * * *
Playing the game for a good eight hours uncovered no bugs other than not being able to hop certain fences. Controls are well thought out and the game is very fluid. The game caused no crashes and load times were faster than expected for a game this well rendered and as large as it is.
Customize This: *
Perhaps an unfair metric for a game like this that doesn’t really need modularity in it’s weapons but the customization of weapons, appearance and kit is really pretty basic.
Weapons: * * * *
Historically accurate and pretty darn cool. I knocked off a star for lack of options but only one based on the fact that they cover the bases pretty well.
Balance: * * * * 1/2
Single player balance is five star but multiplayer depends very heavily on you knowing the map well and most servers I played on didn’t let you have a map to look at. It’s annoying so the game loses half a star but it’s also part of virtually every shooter game out there.
Overall: * * * *
Sniper Elite 4 gets most things right and where it’s off it’s not far off. It’s a historical sniper niche game and it fits that niche very well. It’s up to the reader to decide if they like that niche or not.
Release Date: February 13, 2017
Sniper Elite 4 comes in two versions:
Base Game: $59.99
Deluxe Edition: $89.99
Season Pass: $34.99
DLC Content: $3.99-$9.99 each
The Deluxe Edition of this game comes with the Season Pass and which grants you all DLC content thereby saving you $4.99 vs. buying the season pass separately.