Title: Sniper Elite 4
Format: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Developer/Publisher: Rebellion Developments
ESRB Rating: M (Mature 17+)
Release Date: February 14, 2014
The Grade: B+
SE4 Haiku Review
You're in Italy
Snipe bad guys from far away
Kill Camera still rocks
What is it? Set immediately after the events of "Sniper Elite III," players once again take on the role of Karl Fairburne, a covert agent and elite marksman. In this latest edition of the series, Fairburne is sent to Italy in 1943 where he helps the Italian resistance in their battle against fascism.
The Good: This series is known for its stealth and sniping action and there's certainly plenty of that in this latest "Sniper Elite" title. Players once again skulk around, taking out unaware enemies from long range. The Kill Camera, a staple of the franchise, also returns. This feature allows players to enjoy short cutscenes that show bullets tearing through a wide variety of enemy body parts. It's brutal, graphic and strangely satisfying to see exactly how an enemy is torn to shreds from 200 yards. Don't worry, you can turn the Kill Camera off if you have a delicate constitution.
"SE4" features a wide variety of difficulties and modes, so if you're looking for a real challenge when it comes to determining realistic bullet ballistics you can choose to do your best Bob Lee Swagger from "Shooter" impression if you desire. There's also a shooting range and a Survival mode to test yourself or work on shooting skills. If going lone wolf isn't your thing, try the game's co-op and multiplayer modes.
While most of the gameplay in "Sniper Elite 4" will feel very familiar there have been several welcome changes to its standard gameplay. In game maps are significantly larger than before. This leads to a more exploratory feel. Players can take on objectives in any order they choose, making the game less linear and a true shooters playground. I enjoyed stumbling across hidden side missions and exploring areas with new traversal moves. If you're a sucker for collecting (which I am), you'll get a kick out of scouring levels for a wide range of items. Finding these leads to upgrades and assists with building up skills for your character.
The Bad: To switch targeting shoulders when aiming a weapon player have to pausing the game and go to a radial menu instead of being able to hit a button on the controller and changing the camera on the fly. This an odd thing for players to do in a shooter. Character movement isn't particularly smooth either. Karl only has two speeds -- too fast or too slow. I'd often find myself switching between running and then coming to a tippy toe crawl when crouching to get where I wanted to go. But perhaps most bothersome is the enemy AI, which isn't that bright.
To be fair, enemy soldiers will triangulate your position if you shoot from one place often enough and they can be tough if you get surrounded. However, it doesn't take long to figure out that all you need to do is fire and relocate to confuse opponents. Enemy soldiers are easy to distract, are befuddled by basic military tactics and have short term memory issues. If you wait awhile or leave the immediate vicinity of a kill, they'll just go back to whatever they were doing. This isn't to say the game isn't challenging, it is. Players have to have patience and use strategy to achieve a goal. It's just that the enemy AI isn't particularly intimidating.
The Grade: Despite some issues, overall I found "Sniper Elite 4" to be a great time. A fun title with gratifying action and plenty of places to explore makes for an enjoyable experience.
Gazette Media Columnist Terry Terrones is a veteran video game journalist. He has written for numerous publications including GamePro, GamesBeat, PC World, GameZone, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/terryterrones. ___
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