After 5-long-years since its AAA breakthrough with Sniper Elite 4, Rebellion is back with Sniper Elite 5 following Fairburne’s Nazi exploits after his remarkable victory at the Italian shores. This time, stakes are high as Nazis are desperate to push through ever since the D-day attack and have initiated Operation Kraken which could turn the impossible odds in their favor. As usual, Karl Fairburne is here to put an end to all of this.
Sniper Elite 5 manages to preserve much of its well-received features from its previous iterations. In fact, the gameplay largely remains unchanged which is great but feels old school. It does offer the freedom Metal Gear Solid V offers but lacks the fluidity of the latter but not a huge margin.
THE GHOST, THE SHADOW, THE MYTH
Storytelling has not been the strongest suit of Sniper Elite games. Sniper Elite 5 however, tries to change that. Fairburne and his allies of the french invasion have dedicated cutscenes and interactive dialogues that you can experience at the start of each chapter. But they never become lengthy or too heated during Sniper Elite 5’s 9-chapter campaign. This greatly helps in elevating the freedom of play the Sniper Elite series is known for.
On the Nazi side, this time there’s Obergruppenführer Abelard Möller who has been spearheading Project Kraken to redeem his ties to the Führer as the Axis Powers have been on the run since the Allied Troop’s retaliation at the beaches of Normandy. The game does well in highlighting the desperation among the Germans who are fighting a losing war. But it never goes overboard with the character development on either side. The entire thing just comes off as one excusable façade for killing more Nazis. Even though it may come off as silly, it sure is fun as hell.
Stealth Assassinations to Tactical Espionage
Sniper Elite 5’s sandboxes and tactical combat largely remain unchanged at its core from its predecessor. The maps have gotten even bigger than Sniper Elite 4’s Italia and they have also gotten significantly denser this time around. You are provided with a set of missions that you need to fulfill in each of these regions. Stealth and Non-Lethal approach is often favored more over Lethal Assaults this time around which is quite a refreshing change of pace this time.
Depending on its vicinity and preferred mode of approach, Sniper Elite 5 often resembles the core dynamics of the new Hitman and Metal Gear Solid V. As you discover new areas, you will also come across new side objectives and assassination targets. Except for the game’s finale, killing is mostly optional throughout the entire game. Almost 8 of the missions require no kills under the main objectives and even if you factor in the assassination targets, the total kills would still be less than ten.
Besides the Campaign, there’s survival mode, co-op, and multiplayer. But by far the best addition is the Axis Invasion which can be enabled during the Campaign. Basically any concurrent real player can invade your game as a Jäger Sniper in an attempt to kill you. While you can use your focus mode to detect the enemy’s presence, the invading Sniper will have the entire infantry at his disposal. You can triangulate the invader’s location via phone lines or booby trap the phone lines to kill the enemy undetected. In tense moments this is a game-changer and probably the biggest highlight of Sniper Elite 5 itself.
The Old Ball and Chain
While the game shines at its varied freedom of approach, it is held back by its clunky movement, slow reloads, obscure inventory management, and lastly inconsistent enemy AI. Unlike MGS V or today’s third-person shooters, Sniper Elite 5 lacks fluidity when it comes to movement, makes the traversal choppy and enemy assaults nauseating.
Then there’s the weapon wheel that caused countless deaths during my playthrough. Whenever I tried to switch to my bandages or medkit, I would instead be holding a live grenade as the weapon wheel takes about 2-3 seconds to change the equipped item. Teller mine, Grenades, and Decoys all suffer due to this nauseating in-game weapon wheel. In addition to that, the slow reload often disrupts the free flow of combat even though it makes you vulnerable.
Lastly coming to the enemy AI, the game may feel dated at times. On the forefront, the enemies can spot you across a mile but at the rear, they are dumb as hell. It was like Far Cry (2004) all over again. The AI also seems to struggle a bit with Close Quarter Combat with the exception of Jager soldiers who are completely immune to any kind of melee damage. Still given the Axis invasion system implemented in the campaign, it evens out the fair share of problems present within the in-game AI.
Sniper Elite 5 features stunning vistas, thanks to high-res textures and spatial geometry. However, it still looks dated compared to the modern titles due to the lack of photorealistic lighting. This severely affects the character models within the game. Despite the good texture work on the character models, the lack of specular reflections makes the character models look too dated in this era.
In addition to that, since the time of the day never changes throughout the missions, the game lacks dynamic lighting and shadow maps. On the plus side, this greatly helps the game in maintaining proper frame times and a far more stable 30 fps lock, unlike its previous iterations that featured unlocked framerates.
Sniper Elite 5 is a solid third-person shooter as it sticks to the series roots and freedom of play. Its highly dense maps and animations are a significant upgrade compared to its predecessor and the remarkable addition of Axis Invasions makes its campaign more enjoyable than it used to be. However, its movements and obscure lighting system give it a dated look amongst the modern shooters of today. Given the fact it is available on Game Pass and can be purchased at regional prices on Steam, it is a total bang for the buck!
FINAL RATING: RECOMMENDED