Let us begin by saying that if you’ve ever played a Sniper Elite game, you’re probably aware of what Sniper Elite 5 is attempting to give. This fifth installment in the WWII shooter series finds protagonist Karl Fairburne venturing deep behind enemy lines in order to uncover a cunning scheme and eliminate a slew of Nazi commanders. It’s quite similar to previous Sniper Elite games, however this time it swaps Germany, North Africa, and Italy for the gorgeous terrain of France. We’d know this because we recently had the opportunity to play a portion of the game as part of a preview event when we were given entire control of the second level in the tale.
Without going into too much detail to avoid spoilers, we were tasked with leading Fairburne through a series of French farmlands up to an imposing and truly massive manor house that is being used as the base of operations for a leading Nazi official involved in a nefarious plot called Project Kraken. While we don’t know much about Project Kraken, it’s evident that Sniper Elite 5 is set around the same time as D-Day, meaning 1944 and the closing stages of World War II, and Project Kraken is somehow connected with ending the war before the Allies can make the campaign and recover Europe.
Sniper Elite 5 has large free-to-explore locations for each level, as has been the case for the series since it moved away from more linear levels. For mission two, this includes a wide variety of the aforementioned farmlands, as well as small homesteads and a local church, as well as a variety of military checkpoints strategically placed to make it difficult to freely explore and get around without attracting the attention or suspicion of the Nazi forces that occupy the area. The huge manor that spans several floors, has a comprehensive basement, a collection of blossoming gardens, and even a deep trench encircling the majority of the building, meaning your only way in is to wander across protected bridges, or to instead scout and gather intel to discover hidden and sneaky ways to breach the grounds, is the level’s crown jewel.
Rebellion does an excellent job of giving a plethora of approaches to the level, options that are frequently byproducts of your playstyle. If you have the patience and expertise to avoid discovery and only kill when absolutely necessary and without making a sound, you may utilize that to your advantage and almost certainly never put yourself in serious danger in Sniper Elite 5. At the same time, you may adopt our playstyle and forego stealth in favor of full all-out aggression, letting your trigger do the talking. If you go this route, you will face the wrath of the Nazi soldiers, but there are only so many foes on one level, and you will soon be able to neutralize the threat totally.
Sniper Elite 5’s shooting mechanics, in our opinion, are once again excellent. There’s something really rewarding about landing a shot from hundreds of meters away and watching the bullet gently travel and then slice through its target (thanks to the still excellent X-ray killcam). This has been improved slightly, and bullets now ricochet in unexpected ways when striking bone, meaning a shot to the humerus may wind up claiming a testicle or two as well – it’s all down to luck.
The significant boost in the gameplay of Sniper Elite 5 isn’t really visible in the shooting mechanics, as it appears that Rebellion has placed a lot of emphasis on navigation. You can climb vines, slide down embankments, and even use ziplines to travel to a new location swiftly. They’re welcome additions that just make the gameplay less constrained, and they work incredibly well to accommodate and intensify the experience of being an excellent sniper when combined with the fantastic shooting systems.
Sniper Elite 5 is a good option for those looking for a game with a lot of replayability. You can unlock new starting locations and figure out new ways to approach the task at hand, just like in games with sandbox-style levels that allow you to tackle them in your own way (Hitman is another example series), all to leave the level with a different rating or to pick up some missed collectibles. The primary task remains the same, but your additional expertise and understanding of the surroundings should make it significantly less difficult to complete.