Recently I’ve been playing Sniper Elite 5, it was released into Xbox game pass on its release date and so far I’ve enjoyed it. It’s a welcome addition to Gamepass and it’s a more high-profile game than most others the service has had recently.
Don’t go into the game expecting to be blown away with new features if you experienced any of the previous games in the series, it’s very much a refinement of what came before, but similar to my review of Far Cry 6 last year, that is a good thing.
Playing on PC through Gamepass, I’ve had no issues in terms of stability which is great to see, especially considering some of the launch issues Forza and Halo had. Clear some space on your hard drive though as the game comes in at a whopping 95Gb download.
Sniper Elite 5 (SE5) remains an over-the-shoulder 3rd person-action and stealth game like its predecessors. The story is set after the events of SE4 and a year before the sorry of SE V2. Sniper Karl Fairbourne is set to task with helping an Army Ranger battalion with gaining a valuable foothold in 1944 France during World War 2.
The levels in the game are large sandbox playgrounds for players to decide how to explore and complete objectives. You can take a direct route and just play the story objectives, but each level has plenty of additional tasks that can be found and completed if you want. You don’t need to go it alone as the campaign can be played in 2 player co-op, and a few features called Invasion even let a 3rd player join in on the opposing team and take down the other players.
The selling point of the game is no doubt the return of the gruesome kills that feature, the X-Ray cam returns and this time show off even more blood, guts and broken bonds as you take down enemies over the sprawling environments. It is amazing to watch in action and something a huge number of players will be uploading to social media to show off. It’s gruesome and although it might be slightly overused in places (however this can be adjusted in the settings), watching your builts pierce through bad guys will always be a draw, brains will fly multiple times during your time in the game.
As I noted earlier not much feels new and shiny, except Invasion mode at least, but the worlds look better, the gunplay feels better and it even feels less strict for how you decide to take on objectives. SE 5 is one of the first games in the series that can quite easily be played without stealth, as someone who hasn’t even been very good at this, I’d say it’s a plus, but some others might not agree.
The story helps keep the game moving along but think more war story from the bargain bin at Woolworths than Saving Private Ryan. It’s underdeveloped and has some cheesy dialogue, but it’s enough to carry the game through some impressive level design and a multitude of different ways to play the game.
Another big upgrade from the earlier games is the player movement. Fairbourne is a joy to control and it is a massive improvement from the short period I spent playing SE3 and 4. Searching for a viewpoint to scout out an area of enemies and then deciding how to take them down is now a lot of fun. Although I found myself always trying to take them down long-range it’s good to have the option of sneaking through grass and going hand to hand or just ignoring the alarms blaring and going gun blazing into the action.
In certain circumstances, you can even kill your foes and targets by using Hitman-style environmental takedowns and traps. That’s where the similarities end as the game is nowhere near the imaginative joy to play with in this regard to its dad Hitman. It’s something the game should look to expand on in any future instalments, as Hitman has managed to have an entire series be a love letter to giving players free roam to create inventive kills.
Although the open world levels invite a level of replayability, the additional objectives do get a bit repetitive. Place a charge here to take down this AA gun, take down this coms tower or turn off this valve to shut down something that comes up time and time again. It gets samey very quickly, which is a shame as the levels are well laid out and I wish there were greater incentives to explore a little more.
Invasion mode is, however, a stroke of genius. The in-game AI isn’t the best and having someone with all the same options as you on the hunt for your blood is a great way to make the game more exciting. Seeing the nuzzle from a sniper rife light up in the distance might be the last thing you see before it’s game over.
Gun customisation also returns after being absent from SE3. This alongside good player progression through abilities will keep me coming back for a while to come, I’m loving having lots of options to tailor my play thru to my style and preferences. There’s also a large number of different weapons to find and use which keeps the game fresh as you advance.
I haven’t been able to experience the 4-player Survival mode that’s on offer yet, but Rebellion’s previous experience on Zombie Army games (essentially the multiplay versions of the SE games), should mean a wealth of modes and a full suite of options to keep the players busy.
So in short, Sniper Elite 5 is a good game that can be enjoyable under the right situations, just don’t expect to be blown away by the story and focus on the spectacle that is taking down two Nazi enemies while watching on X-Ray cam, one through the balls with the ricochet taking out their gunman in arms pal.