That aspect isn’t helped by the overall graphics level of Sniper Elite 5. The game looks pretty good at times. The third mission takes Karl to Mont Saint-Michel, which also looks beautiful in-game. The fictional locations, however, look a lot less inspired and the other elements, such as the soldiers and the cars, also make little impression. Admittedly, this didn’t bother us much while playing. The lighting effects do their job well enough to certainly give the missions that take place at night an atmospheric look. The missions are interspersed with cutscenes that add new parts to the story. They’re pretty nice, but no more than that. The acting level is nowhere near that of today’s leading games and many roles are all too recognizable. Of course, the general story doesn’t help with that. A spy who unnoticed and sabotaged a secret Nazi plan in enemy territory in enemy territory is not the most original plot ever.
More originality can be found in the gameplay, at least when you compare that gameplay to the earlier games in the series. In Sniper Elite 5 there is a striking shift. Karl still has to rely on his sniper rifle every now and then , but much more often that coarser artillery is a handicap. The game forces players to make frequent use of stealth tactics. Sneaking around, hiding yourself and silently taking out enemies and putting their bodies out of sight prove to be a lot more important than before. We made a lot more kills in our missions with our hands or with a pistol with a silencer, then with a sniper rifle. That fact, enhanced by the ability to use elements in the environment and even place very creative booby traps, makes Sniper Elite 5 feel a bit like a Hitman game.
It’s in how you work and what the game thinks about it. Suppose you think Karl is just a sniper and so choose a tactical spot to sit down and open fire. Best chance that you can win the firefight that follows. However, the game makes it clear in everything that that is actually not the intention. Yellow and red colors warn you that enemies are on your trail or even fighting you. That works intuitively as a guiding element; you don’t want yellow, let alone red. In addition, the game assesses you at the end of a mission and shows elements such as how often you have been seen by enemies and how often the alarm has gone off. So you’re clearly being steered in the direction of stealth, which makes Sniper Elite 5 indeed more of a tactical spy game than a pure sniper game.
This is also clearly noticeable in the gameplay features that players have at their disposal in Sniper Elite 5. If you play in standard mode, Karl can tag enemies, so that their position is always visible. He also has a focus mode, with which he can spot enemies through walls that have not yet been spotted. Shooting with a sniper rifle is also easy; an icon shows where to aim to compensate for distance, wind and movement of your target.
The game has even more tools on board that make things a bit easier for the player. Some of these are Metal Gear-like tricks that are useful, but they don’t fit the theme as well. Fortunately, all those tools can also be turned off, with Authentic being the trickiest option. All the aids mentioned above are lost and you are dependent on your own feeling and intuition. Figuring out where enemies are, then proceed by observing their patrols yourself and remembering where you’ve seen enemies. Taking wind, distance and movement into account is therefore a manual task. This logically makes Sniper Elite 5 a much more difficult game, but certainly when it comes to shooting with a sniper rifle, it is much more satisfying. Still, we can imagine that most players will opt for some training wheels here and there, because this approach demands a lot of your skills and your patience. It’s nice that you can adjust the difficulty per game part, so that, for example, you have help with spotting enemies, but less with shooting.
If you want to give yourself some extra help, you can do so by changing your armor and by unlocking perks. You do the latter by spending experience points in a somewhat limited skill tree. For example, you can give yourself some extra health causing you to automatically unload enemies that Karl takes out with his hands. In that respect, the weapons offer more entertainment. Gradually you unlock more weapons and attachments that allow you to customize those weapons. Every weapon can be heard in Sniper Elite 5, but by putting a silencer on a machine gun, you limit the audibility to a few tens of meters. If you want to take out some enemies from a distance before you go inside somewhere, a somewhat limited audibility of your gun is also nice. Shooting enemies one by one is of little use if you immediately set off the alarm and are stormed by dozens of soldiers.
You can limit that effect in some levels by timing shots with background noise. For example, in the above-mentioned example of the level where you have to infiltrate Mont Saint-Michel, planes are flying over. You hear the sound swell and when that sound is at its loudest, you can completely mask a loud shot from a sniper rifle. You can also use this trick on a smaller scale, for example by letting generators blare, so that soldiers in that area will no longer hear a modest pistol shot.
Invade other players’ games
The opponents in the game provide quite a few challenges, but not the biggest challenge you can encounter in Sniper Elite 5. It is this time possible to invade games of others, as a sniper on the German side. The player acting as Karl Fairburne will be notified that an enemy sniper is nearby, along with an indication of where that sniper is located. There is a telephone system in the game that can provide players with additional information about where the enemy is located. This creates a cat-and-mouse game between Karl and an enemy sniper, which is without a doubt the most exciting moments in Sniper Elite 5. We did enjoy it more as hunter than as Karl. In your own campaign, such an invasion always feels like an interruption in your progress, while of course you choose it yourself when you start the Invasion Mode and start the hunt as a Nazi sniper. You can, by the way, just turn off the option to have invaders in your game if you don’t feel like it, but then you’ll miss out on some thrills.
In Sniper Elite 5 players can not only play against, but also with each other. That changes the game quite a bit, because being able to take out two targets at the same time makes several difficult parts a lot easier. Especially then an Axis Invasion is extra fun, because you can attack the other player or players together. The dynamics do change slightly when it becomes two-on-one. As soon as you manage to kill one of the two players as a loner, the other player from the team of two has only three minutes left to take you, otherwise, you win the duel by definition. That presents a nice tactical issue. After all, it pays off to try and attack one of the two players quickly, because afterward you only have to hide and let the other take all the risks.
Sniper Elite 5 certainly has some nice parts, but we’re not convinced that the game does what it should. A slightly different course has clearly been chosen. It’s as if not Karl Fairburne is playing the lead role, but Sam Fisher or Agent 47 has stepped into a time machine to 1944 Normandy. Is that meant as a criticism? Well, a little bit. Sniper Elite 5 promises, based on the title and on the basis of the predecessors, to be mainly a sniper game, but this is only limited. Fans of tactical espionage games will love it and yes, it’s just as satisfying to complete a mission completely stealth or use one of the more creative ways to kill enemies; exactly as it feels in the Hitman games. Sniper Elite 5 is a very nice game for the target group that is less familiar with the games and who also does not want a sky-high difficulty level. Purists will miss the focus on real-life marksmanship, but can at least opt for a more authentic difficulty setting.
Sniper Elite 5 turns out to be quite a good game, but not quite the recommended one many had hoped for. Trying is a good idea for many gamers anyway, as Sniper Elite 5 is available for free on Game Pass for PC and Xbox. PlayStation gamers will have to purchase the game separately.
- Gameplay Variation
- Get creative with kills
- Sometimes beautiful
- Invasion Mode
- Level well adjustable
- Less really a sniper game
- boring story
- Sometimes looks uninspired