SNIPER ELITE 5: The Phantom Pain, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, and the Hitman reboots have had a significant impact on the series’ fifth installment, which I consider to be its best since the original. This is an interesting stealth game, but it suffers from an unresolved plot and lack of faith in its main mechanics.

Sniper Elite 5’s cutscenes aren’t what most players are interested in, but someone at Rebellion was determined to stuff as many into this game as possible, and they’re all, without exception, duller than the Nazis’ dead eyes. There is a distinct lack of individuality in the macho American commando/sniper in this video game, making him feel like he hasn’t even made it off of the assembly line. To give a Nazi killing machine some soul, BJ Blazkowicz from Wolfenstein does just that with his reservoir of self-reflection and self-awareness. Karl, on the other hand, speaks in cliches and I can barely hear a word he says.

Karl uttering “Nazi bastards” while a sorrowful accordion plays is one of the few moments of inadvertent humour in the game’s opening sequence. Accordions! Is that clear to you now? As a result of its setting in France.

An unmistakable indicator of the development stage of Sniper Elite can be found in the game’s audio selections. The Second World War is seen through the eyes of a teenage kid. Even if shooting Nazis isn’t a big deal in terms of character or tone, its lack of humor and seriousness prevents it from being as enjoyable as Hitman, or as serious as a real-world simulation of Nazi-occupied France.

Every time I saw a member of the French resistance, I was baffled as to why they weren’t the centre of attention. Why didn’t we have to rely on our wits and cleverness to defeat the formidable Nazi war machine? Is there someone here with a stake in the country? For whatever reason, the series appears wed to its bargain bin action man, despite how apparent it is to inject some life into proceedings.

As it stands, Sniper Elite 5’s tutorial is the worst part of the whole experience. In any event, you may begin to appreciate the game’s best features when it does finally open up: blasting baddies from long distances. No, this isn’t the wide-open universe you’re looking at. Levels are linear in practice, despite how big the vistas appear. In fact, the narrower scope allows for the game to funnel players into fascinating hurdles. They aren’t left with no options. While it’s possible to do long-distance brain surgery from a safe distance, you’re forced to take risks in order to avoid detection and gain vantage points. The reward of a hidden passage or ledge that may be scaled seems earned rather than handed to you.

A tidal island securely protected from the outside world, Mont Saint Michel, serves as the backdrop for the third mission, Spy Academy, which showcases the game’s strongest features. Sniper locations like church towers might be duds, which means that instead of going through the motions, you have to pay attention.

Man, you’re not getting hit.

Man, you're not getting hit.

They may not be as good as the Hitman titles, but Sniper Elite 5’s levels are nonetheless enjoyable for more than just killing people. Even though they don’t appear to be as open as they first appear, these levels are mazes full of minor choke places and surprises that are worth exploitation. Though the game’s AI does not recognise accidents as such, any death is taken as evidence that a sniper is nearby. Even while the lack of a true atmosphere, or even a sensation these soldiers are doing anything besides waiting for you to show up, means there is little excitement in your trespassing, the various alternatives available make levels more entertaining to abuse.

Using a low-flying jet as cover, I took out a sniper and buried a mine that was activated by an approaching patrol car, allowing me to go beyond enemy lines undetected. Despite how rare they are, these moments are satisfying.

However, I can’t help but believe that the game suffers as a result of the added variety. It hasn’t done anything particularly well, but it has done a fair number of things well. Call of Duty Modern Warfare’s All Ghillied Up and One Shot, One Kill levels come to mind when I think of the best video game sniping experiences. The design is linear and set-piece focused, but the emphasis is on stealth and patience, rather than slaughtering hordes of troops. Sniper Elite 5 at times feels like it’s ashamed by the sniping, fearful that you’ll become tired with it. The idea of staking out a single target isn’t something that can be fully replicated by video games, but I’m confident they can have me do more than just be a second hand Is Sam Fisher still alive?

Spectacular shots.

The use of an X-ray kill camera feels like an attempt to glamorize sniping, rather than enhancing the practice. Since the second game, it’s been a trademark of the series. However, in a game devoid of any real emotional resonance, they are unable to find their place. There are other games, like Mortal Kombat, that are full of delighted over-the-top grotesqueness. This isn’t possible with the kills, which are just too bland and uninspired. Maybe it’s a sobering reminder of the pain you’re causing? It’s not funny when your testicles explode like a joke in the game. There are so many issues with the show that the X-ray killings point to. Instead of attempting anything truly new, they’ve chosen to focus on a single, awkward, but distinctive trait.

A lack of thought is evident even in the skill trees, which provide benefits that have little impact on how you play the game. There’s a new weapon here and a little bit of extra health. Because there aren’t any substantially distinct options accessible, it all feels a little redundant. The game may require you to spend more time lurking in the shadows, but it doesn’t do it really well. Sniper Elite 5’s close confrontations, even when compared to the decades-old Splinter Cell titles, are awkward and rudimentary. There are no wall splits at this place.

The game’s blend of near- and far-reaching goals creates an uneasy sense of discord. Sniper And Sneaking Into Buildings To Grab Documents Elite, after all, isn’t it? When it comes to the excitement of assessing a shot, analysing the wind and distance, and making accurate changes, the game truly shines. Adding awkward close-quarters stealth to the mix only detracts from the good.

Shooting in the dark

In order to bring out the most in this game, the difficulty options are essential. Sniper Elite, like many other recent stealth games, is overrun with data. A sniper’s help lets them know when an enemy is getting close enough to see them, so they may be tagged and tracked. Training wheels are put on at every curve and the game expects you to feel empowered. By messing around with the difficulty settings, you can restore the sense of tension that was lost.

The game can be slashed to the bone. Assists are non-existent and the enemies are far more intelligent. There is no method to follow your foes but to recall what you’ve seen. It’s more difficult, yes, but it’s also more engaging. In the absence of friction or challenge, I became utterly irritated. My recommendation? Put as much emphasis as possible on “authenticity,” and take your time with it for a more memorable experience that forces you to interact with what you’re seeing and hearing.

In addition to those options, the game has undergone a number of changes. Co-op is back in Sniper Elite and it has a profound effect on gameplay, allowing for synchronised takedowns and coordination that adds a whole new layer to the experience. As for the new invasion mode, a Dark Souls-like feature in which players can invade other games as an Axis sniper, it’s here as well. When you play against a live person instead of a computer opponent, it adds a real Enemy At The Gates tension that is far more intense than what you would experience in an offline game. A bottle thrown into the distance is not going to fool a real player. You can always turn it off if the idea of strangers lurking in the woods bothers you. That being said, I think it would be a shame not to participate in multiplayer because I believe that the game itself undersells how much these elements enhance the gameplay.

Sniper Elite 5 can be a good, even excellent, stealth game in the appropriate circumstances. It’s startling enough to give it an advantage but too inconsistent to keep it. Even while it’s keeping an eye on the competition, it just can’t seem to make a dent in it.

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