Sniper Elite 5 is an action/stealth game by Rebellion, and there is with some excitement I press the play button, considering Sniper Elite 4 is one of my favorite modern stealth games. But as with everything modern Rebellion now touches, it turns out a bit lackluster. It’s also a one-step forward, two-step backward kind of situation with baffling design decisions. Sometimes I really wonder…
Let’s start with the thing that has been bad since the first version – the story. Well, to call it bad would be unfair I guess, but it’s really a non-thing in this series. It’s only there to catapult you from one fantastic setting to the next. Basically, the only thing worth remembering is the main guy you play as, the one and only Karl Fairburne, the unquestionably best sniper in the world. From Africa to Italy, and now France, and to the surprise of nobody there is a new evil German general to take down here too because of his grand plans for the Reich.
Before I start to complain about the game, let’s begin with some good stuff. I liked the change to weapons you pick up on the battlefield. Instead of it replacing the weapon you start out with, it’s now just an extra weapon for you to use until you empty the magazine. I did enjoy this system since it lets me try out some weapons I usually don’t pick. The new first-person mode for aiming is a nice addition too, and it makes for better precision with submachine guns and the like. Another cool thing is that now you can play less of a psycho, which means you can now knock out people instead of having to kill everyone. Both in close combat and in range with special ammunition.
Now for some odd stuff. Lots of cool mines, tripwires, and stuff like that have been replaced with junk items, like some kind of non-lethal wooden box mine, and a decoy that I never used. The game in general has been made much more action with less focus on finding good sniping spots, and more on gunning down people with weapons you can find – often designed for just that purpose, for you to go full Rambo for a while. You find MP44 rifles with silencers pretty often (God-tier weapon), and now you can carry around an MG42 for when you really want to mow down those pesky Germans. I played on the highest difficulty (authentic) and it felt too easy overall. The AI seems to have been zapped too. Now they seem to act independently of each other, instead of attacking as a group with an officer in lead. This often leads to degenerate gameplay, with you just having to sit still and wait for them, killing them one by one as they come around the corner.
Wind effects have almost been removed from the game, too. All the way up to mission 5, or 6 I had no wind whatsoever, which made sniping very easy, but then suddenly I had one mission with a little wind, but that went away again after that mission. Not sure what is up with this, maybe Rebellion considered it too hard, but then again everything over “hard” should be difficult. I liked that you had to calculate the shots in Sniper Elite 4, and often you had to decide not to take them because of the risk of miss – not so much in Sniper Elite 5. It’s much more forgiving.
While I like that you can knock out people now, I’m not really sure of the addition, to be honest. Did Karl suddenly grow a conscience? What is odd, though, you can’t plant booby traps on unconscious bodies, the game won’t let you go total evil and use it for that function. But you can place a mine next to the body, so I’m not sure about this restriction? What really annoys me about this addition is as mentioned that they removed other weapons for this function. If it was a choice, I would have no problem with it, but removing tripwires? A mad decision in my opinion. Unfortunately, the game in general feels hastily made, and it doesn’t have the cool details in 4. Like how all snipers had a “personality”, a memento for you to collect, but in 5, a sniper is just another soldier that can shoot you at a longer range. You never get anything cool when you loot them, except ammo.
Another thing that made me think that this game was perhaps a little phoned in, is that so much stuff just feels janky. Animations look odd at times, and controlling Karl has become worse, and much more fiddly. He constantly tries to stick to things, and often you can’t jump over small fences, just stuff like that. The death cam has also become glitchy, with bullets bouncing around in weird ways, and the ragdoll effect has been made goofy looking. Often now, when you plug someone, he will fly away and do several pirouettes in the air before landing on the ground. I also have serious sound issues in the game. Music is fine, no issues there, but often explosions, and environmental effects will just not play. I can see huge cannons fire but hear no sound at all, it does take you out of the game when it happens.
The visuals are good, but for some reason, they are using a ton of sharpening with no way of removing or lowering it. While it looks good at times, the hard sharpness gets tiring to look at after a while, at least for me. I find it hard to make out stuff when everything is so sharp, but then again, I have a hard time seeing anything when it’s blurry too. The new maps in France are nice looking, but I can’t say there is too much new. I guess it’s both good and bad, because, I wanted more of the same, but some areas I could swear I have seen several times before – like all these submarine pens. Overall, there are fewer “fantastical” areas I think, the bases don’t have that Indiana Jones feeling to them in 5.
So, what do I think, do I recommend it? I have been fairly negative, and I do think it’s a poor showing, to be honest, but still, it’s more Sniper Elite missions, and I got to play it for one euro through Microsoft Gamepass, so I can’t complain too much. Viewed as a sequel to 4, though, it’s a massive disappointment, it’s more of the same, but less, with nothing really new, except you can knock out dudes. If you can play it mega cheap as I did, go ahead, otherwise, I would wait and not pay full price. Remember, Rebellion is notorious for DLC pushing too, DLCs with weapons, etc, so this release is far from complete.
Thanks for reading.