come for the ex­plod­ing tes­ti­cles, stay for the open-world scope

XBox: The Official Magazine (US) - - CONTENTS - Sa­muel Ri­ley

War, we’re of­ten told, is highly schiz­o­phrenic— crush­ing ten­sion punc­tu­ated by sheer, bloody vi­o­lence; im­per­sonal mis­sile strikes con­trasted with knife-point fight­ing, and the ut­ter con­tra­dic­tion of god-like fire­power and fleshy vul­ner­a­bil­ity. Re­bel­lion un­der­stands this, sol­dier­ing on from past ti­tles to de­liver its best and most ac­cu­rate war game yet.

With his square jaw and bari­tone voice, Lieu­tenant Karl Fair­burne seems more suited to the life of a news an­chor than that of an OSS agent. Then again, looks can of­ten be de­ceiv­ing, and that’s cer­tainly the case here—as SniperElite4 puts in a solid, if un­spec­tac­u­lar ef­fort on the graph­i­cal front.

Make no mis­take, the var­i­ous town­ships and vil­las of Italy, where Karl pur­sues his lat­est tar­get, are all nat­u­rally beau­ti­ful lo­ca­tions, but they clearly lack the siz­zle and pol­ish of other cur­rent-gen ex­pe­ri­ences. This is a game that looks more like an up­scaled Xbox 360 ti­tle than a truly mod­ern ad­ven­ture. But don’t let this work­man­like ap­proach to vi­su­als de­ter you. This is a game with plenty to rec­om­mend.

Sim­ply put, your mis­sion here is to lib­er­ate as many brains from their cra­ni­ums as is nec­es­sary, with the game pro­vid­ing a rich va­ri­ety of means with which to do so. Pis­tols, sub-ma­chine guns, rocket launch­ers, and a wealth of land mines and other ex­plo­sives all com­bine to form a truly mul­ti­fac­eted arse­nal. Pis­tols are weak but quiet (pro­vided you stick with the ‘well­rod’ vari­ant), while ma­chine guns and shot­ties al­low you to go loud and proud in a pinch. For­tu­nately for purists, both of these op­tions are es­sen­tially nerfed via re­coil, as main­tain­ing a steady aim be­comes all but im­pos­si­ble in a fire­fight. That’s not to say that they’re en­tirely use­less, only that they’re more trou­ble than they’re worth—a de­ci­sion that care­fully prods play­ers back to the game’s ‘main event’.

Hyper sniper

It prob­a­bly won’t come as much of a shock to learn that snip­ing is what

SniperElite4 does best. Here, play­ers are en­cour­aged to empty their lungs and line up a spe­cial retic­ule in or­der to make their shots. Phys­i­cal ex­er­tion, like run­ning from point A to B, or be­ing in a messy shootout, will quickly spike your heart rate, mak­ing breath­ing er­ratic and aim­ing dif­fi­cult. The ex­tra retic­ule mean­while, takes all of the fuss out of ad­just­ing for dis­tance, bul­let drop and other en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tors—though sea­soned shoot­ers may wish to turn off these mur­der­ous train­ing wheels. In any case you’ll soon meet the game’s call­ing

card—an X-ray kill cam that fol­lows your bul­lets as they play merry hell with the op­po­si­tion’s guts. It’s a grue­some, ul­ti­mately repet­i­tive thrill, but one that never quite out­stays its wel­come.

Each kill earns Karl points that go to­wards an over­all mis­sion rank­ing. In­ven­tive deaths, such as drop­ping a ship­ping con­tainer onto some­one’s head, pop­ping open two skulls at once, or lur­ing an en­emy onto a land­mine, will all up your mul­ti­plier and raise the over­all score. Sadly, as re­ward­ing as it may be to mix up your mur­der, the tan­gi­ble prizes for do­ing so of­ten prove pal­try.

Path to glory

As for the game’s lev­els, these are all well de­signed, and of­fer a mul­ti­tude of paths to com­ple­tion. The ap­pear­ance of im­pass­able waist-high fences is un­for­tu­nate, though the over­all level of free­dom eas­ily out­weighs their an­noy­ance. It’s just a shame that the mis­sions them­selves aren’t more di­verse. There are no civvies to be seen, no bustling mar­ket­places to ob­serve, or pompous Nazi gen­er­als out en­ter­tain­ing their guests. This isn’t Hit­man to be sure, but a bit more life and va­ri­ety to these stages surely couldn’t hurt.

That’s not to say your tar­gets are mindless id­iots. SniperElite4’ s AI is largely on point, uti­liz­ing an alert­ness me­chanic sim­i­lar to that in Metal Gear Solid. It isn’t per­fect by any means, but know­ing that your en­e­mies have the pres­ence of mind to alert nearby guards and carry out co­or­di­nated search par­ties re­in­forces the feel­ing of be­ing be­hind en­emy lines.

Spe­cial men­tion must also be made of the game’s light­ning-quick load times and save sys­tem—both fairly dull propo­si­tions on pa­per, but ones that ul­ti­mately push play­ers to­wards greater ex­per­i­men­ta­tion. Just know­ing that you can retry any take­down im­me­di­ately af­ter bungling its ex­e­cu­tion makes ev­ery ob­sta­cle feel more like a com­bustible sci­ence set than an in­ter­minable road block. This is a game that wants you to play your way un­til you get your way.

SniperElite4 may—iron­i­cally—lack the scope of its con­tem­po­raries, but Re­bel­lion gen­er­ally hits the tar­gets it sets, de­liv­er­ing an ex­cit­ing ad­ven­ture that de­serves to be given a long, hard look. Scope it out.

“Your mis­sion is sim­ple: Lib­er­ate as many brains from cra­ni­ums as pos­si­ble”

far left

We get so sick of the glue-yournose-to-my-hand trick. Like, can you not? Left

The X-ray kill cam gives you a front-row seat to your en­emy’s bones and or­gans rup­tur­ing mid­fight. Yum.


Snip­ing of­ten in­volves hid­ing be­hind tiny pieces of chim­ney, and we’re pros.

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