Sniper Elite 5 French Dispatch.
Karl Fairburne is back in action as a serial scrotum-sniper soldier. This news will make every Nazi feel nervous. Sniper Elite 5 brings the series’ traditional blend of espionage, X-rayed executions and 1944 France to a new level. Fairburne is now deep behind enemy lines in a collection of large-scale stealthy sandboxes. Although Sniper Elite 5 is the most flexible entry in this series, thanks to its improved controls, weapon customization, and multiplayer features, it was marred by a forgettable story, some redundant mission objectives, and a lack of sniper elite-style missions. I finished the 12-hour campaign feeling more like sniper repetition than sniper elite.
Sniper Elite has always been more interested in the trajectory of its bullets that creating complicated story arcs. This fifth mainline installment is no exception. Fairburne, aided by another group of resistance fighters, is on a mission to discover and defeat the Nazis’ top secret Operation Kraken. You can make a WWII story simpler than Fairburne’s scope by adding a cartoonish Nazi antagonist and predictable late-game dramatic twists.
Although Sniper Elite 5 may seem a bit boring, Fairburne is much more agile and adventurous than ever before, which makes him easier to control. Each stalk through heavily guarded areas starts as a silent crouch walk. However, once things get loud, Fairburne can quickly maneuver over low walls and through windows to gain some distance. He can also climb up rope netting and vines, slide down inclines and break the line of vision so that he can regroup and counterattack. Although I did find myself sometimes with my back against the wall and no option but to shoot my way out, the open-level design meant that I was less like a sitting duck and more like a sniping Spider-Man.
Sniper Elite 5’s eight environments take full advantage of Fairburne’s expanded movement set. Each facility has multiple entry points, whether they are through the front door, round the side or through an open window on the upper floor. I also enjoyed the freedom to infiltrate from any angle that I wanted. A new focus ability allows you to see enemies through walls to avoid an ambush. Tools like bolt cutters allow you to cut through weaker sections of fences to create additional paths to your objective.
Another round of shots
Sniper Elite 4 allows you to reach sniping areas previously impossible to reach. However, this does not change the actual experience of sniping. You can tag your targets using binoculars and tampering with generators to make the shots sound more natural. Also, you can use environmental hazards such as explosive barrels to get these fascists to surrender. The X-ray killcam has become more detailed than ever and fills Sniper Elite 5’s glovebox with ugly headshots. Although it’s still an enjoyable formula, it feels very familiar from my experience with Sniper Elite 4. It even has a sometimes wonky AI that seemed to be as primitively implemented as a toilet stall stool swatika no matter how high I raised the combat difficulty.Sniper Elite 5 is filled with more ugly headshots thanks to the X-ray killcam.
I like the fact that enemy soldiers will often sprint desperately for the nearest alarm tower to radio for help once you’ve engaged them in combat, resulting in a gripping burst of tension as you scramble to take them out before they can call in reinforcements. It’s also a neat touch that if you wing them they’ll sometimes run away clutching at their wound. But while they can certainly be deadly in numbers, they will also often march mindlessly into your crosshairs, struggle with basic pathfinding, or veer unpredictably between different states of alertness. In one late-game mission set in an expanse of French countryside, I was spotted killing a couple of German soldiers and an alarm was raised forcing me to flee. Yet when I returned to the area some 20 minutes later, the enemy patrol remained locked in a cycle in which they’d be in a heightened investigative state, then the investigation would end, then the same dead body would be noticed and the investigation would begin again as though they were a group of goose-stepping goldfish.
The positive side is that the AI might have some quirks that need to be fixed, but I found the auto-save system far smarter than that of Sniper Elite 4. Every time I died, I was thankful that it returned me to a checkpoint which didn’t put me back in mortal peril, as was the case with the previous game.
A welcome addition is the return to weapon customization, which was absent in Sniper Elite 4. You can modify your firearms either before a mission starts or at workbenches located in each map. I enjoyed the challenge of tweaking the anatomy of my rifle to achieve the right balance between power and audible range. Sniper Elite 5’s skill enhancements are distributed in a much more generous manner than before. I also appreciated that I didn’t have to grind to unlock perks such as the ability to use my medkit to save myself in an emergency. This was invaluable during the campaign’s final hours.
Sniper Elite 5’s skill and weapon upgrades allowed me to customize Fairburne to my play style, including the ability to carry multiple ammunition types such as subsonic and armour piercing rounds. However, the way it found weapons surprised me. Weapons left behind by enemies or hidden caches can still be used. However, they are automatically dropped back once you switch to another firearm in the loadout. It meant that I didn’t accidentally discard a valuable tool in my arsenal. However, it also meant that I would sometimes grab a panzerfaust to kill an armoured vehicle, only to drop it again and pick it up each time I switched over to my pistol to fight ground troops. This seemed like an inefficient way to transport a weapon, which could have been carried around Fairburne’s shoulders.
Sniper Elite 5 hosts some sprawling sandboxes. These include the elegant surroundings and luxurious interiors of Chateau de Berengar’s mansion, the cathedral high above a heavily fortified spy academy, as well as the darkened bowels of Nazi war factories. Despite the constant murder and heavy WWII themes, there are still some lighthearted surprises along the way. I enjoyed watching a group Nazi spies trying to learn American language skills before climbing up to assassinate them.
However, I was disappointed at how many of the espionage objectives were reused from one mission to another. I lost track of the number of times I had to place satchel charges on AA weapons, snap tethered cable cables to topple a radio tower, and turn the exact same set pressure valves to shut down multiple production centres. Each impressively constructed Nazi facility that I navigated through was a tedious chore. It made it less enjoyable.
Each stage has its own unique and hitman-like assassination. The fun of dropping a heavy chandelier onto a high-profile Nazi target was a nice Looney Tunes-style experience. However, I was somewhat surprised when another target took a drink and he suddenly glitched out. He seemed to melt into the ground like the Wicked Witch of the West. However, I thoroughly enjoyed taking out targets with my rifle holstered and I wish there were more of these unique targets on each map.
I was unable to play all of Sniper Elite 5 multiplayer modes due to pre-release review, but I was able to test the campaign co-op mode and the counter-op Axis Invasion. Co-op can be just as much fun as Sniper Elite 4’s synchronised kills. However, you and your partner will have more control over how you operate since you can share ammo, medkits, and other mission-specific items such as unique room keys. It’s clear that co-op with two players is the best way to enjoy Sniper Elite 5 campaign.
Axis Invasion was not something I was excited about. Since I don’t like the idea of being grieved by strangers while trying to make the most out of my evening gaming time, I had previously disabled similar modes in Deathloop and Elden Ring. I therefore switched the feature off while I was working on Sniper Elite 5’s campaign. After rolling credits, I went back to the original mission and tried it again, this time as both the invader or the invader. I was pleasantly surprised by the novelty of being able move freely among other SS troops while I hunted down Fairburne.
Invading snipers don’t have the same binoculars as other players, but they can tell AI enemies to “look sharp” to temporarily increase their awareness. It can be difficult to find your target due to the sheer size of Sniper Elite 5’s map. I would rather have the ability to get a lift in one the transport trucks, which constantly roam around the various maps. However, based on what I’ve seen so far, I’m eager to try the mode once it launches.
Sniper Elite 5 feels more like an incremental improvement than a major breakthrough, keeping it at a half-step ahead of Sniper Elite 4. Sniper Elite 5 features a more maneuverable main star, modified weapons, enhanced cooperative and Axis Invasion, which allows the hunter to become a hunter. However, it is still a highly satisfying and gross way to kill Nazis in their neer regions. The series should aim higher and not repeat the same few objectives too often.
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