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World War II was and still is a popular setting for games. Most of the time you’re with a troop of soldiers à lla band of brothers. Other times, you’re a Nazi killing machine bent on destroying the Third Reich. The Sniper Elite series leans much more towards the latter.
In Sniper Elite 5 you play as Karl Fairburne, a top-class sniper. When the game starts you are off the coast of France supporting the US Rangers. Your mission is to weaken the Atlantic Wall in preparation for D-Day.
Once on land, things don’t go very well. You end up in a landscape full of Nazis. Luckily the local resistance is there to help. Once he’s settled into the group, it’s time for Karl to go hunting.
As Karl, you discover a new secret Nazi project called Operation Kraken. Since its name is Operation Kraken and not Operation Funshine, you believe it deserves an investigation.
Nazis – can’t live with them, can’t shoot… oh wait
Sniper Elite is known for a few things, but the main one is killing Nazis. As a famous Allied assassin, Karl terrified the hearts of the Nazis. After all, he destroyed thousands of testicles with his sniper rifle. Maybe tens of thousands. If I heard the “Wüstengeist” was in town, I’d stuff some tin down my pants. Which brings us to the shooting.
As always, sniping is a highlight of the Sniper Elite 5 experience. There’s certainly satisfaction in adjusting your scope for wind and bullet drop and firing the perfect shot. Now, new to Sniper Elite 5, your other weapons will also trigger the kill cam. So if you have a particularly nasty pistol shot to Hitler’s groin, it will trigger for that too. Due to an overhaul, the new killcam takes the target’s skeleton into account. Bullets do weird, ugly things inside a body as they bounce around.
You start each mission with a pistol, a submachine gun, and your rifle. You can swap and customize your weapons, with more weapons unlocked as you play. You can customize your weapons between missions or at workbenches scattered throughout each level. Changes to your weapons affect their overall stats, tweaking a score here and lowering one over there.
What a beautiful setting for a murder
The areas you traverse while searching for clues about Project Kraken are based on real locations. France 1944 comes to life through photogrammetry. Including lush vineyards and Nazi-occupied castles, each location is packed with things to see and do. To that end, the sheer amount of debris and clutter is impressive and appears natural. The world looks more populated than previous games.
The levels are on the larger side, although they may not look like it on the in-game map. This version has a lot more verticality than the games before it. Ledges, ziplines, and overgrown trellises provide Karl with a way to navigate the map and get the perfect shot.
Bring your friends…or foes
One of the more interesting additions this time around is the invasion feature. If you enable this option – and have an active internet connection – other players can invade your game. So instead of just AI opponents, you can have a living, breathing opponent chasing you through the level. This inclusion adds to the excitement and can certainly make your gaming sessions a lot more memorable.
There are also a number of co-op game modes here for you and your group of friends. As always, you can play the campaign with a friend. Survival mode is also back for a four-player experience. Survival is a point defense battle against AI waves. Kind of like a “horde mode” if you will.
If you want to kill other players, you can try a variety of new game modes. Up to 16 players can join and take part in a variety of game types, including free-for-all and team modes. One of the more interesting match types is called “No Cross,” where teams stand on opposite sides of an impassable area.
Killing Hitler is fun
Sniper Elite 5 is exactly what I want from the series: new maps, new Nazis, and new ways to kill them. The only real disappointment is that the graphics haven’t evolved from the last few iterations. The levels look great and are fun to explore, they just don’t have that next-gen feel.
That said, this game is an absolute blast. The time I spent tracking Nazis in the French countryside was quite enjoyable. The additions and tweaks between this game and the last one add to the experience rather than detracting or distracting.
I can’t wait to get back to France and kill more Nazis with my friends.
Sniper Elite 5 will be released on May 26th for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. The publisher has given GamesBeat a PS5 code for this review
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