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World War II was, and still is, a popular setting for games. Most of the time you’re with a squad of soldiers à lIa Band of Brothers. Other times you are a Nazi-killing machine, bent on the destruction of the Third Reich. The Sniper Elite series leans way more towards the latter.
In Sniper Elite 5, you play as Karl Fairburne, sniper extraordinaire. When the game begins, you are off the coast of France assisting the U.S. Rangers. Your mission is to help weaken the Atlantic Wall in preparation of D-Day.
Once on land, things don’t go very well. You end up stranded in a countryside teeming with Nazis. Luckily, the local resistance is there to help. Once settled in with the group, it’s time for Karl to go hunting.
As Karl, you discover a new Nazi secret project entitled Operation Kraken. Since its name is “Operation Kraken” and not “Operation Funshine,” you believe it may need some investigation.
Nazis — can’t live with them, can’t shoot … oh wait
Sniper Elite is known for a few things, but chief among those is killing Nazis. As a storied allied assassin, Karl strikes terror into the Nazi heart. After all, he has destroyed thousands of testicles with his sniper rifle. Maybe tens of thousands. If I heard the “Desert Ghost” was in town, I’d stuff some sheet metal down my pants. Which brings us to the shooting part.
The sniping, as always, is a highlight to the Sniper Elite 5 experience. It’s certainly satisfying to adjust your scope to account for wind and bullet drop and fire the perfect shot. Now, new in Sniper Elite 5, your other weapons also trigger the kill cam. So if you have a particularly nasty pistol shot into the groin of Hitler, it will trigger for that as well. Due to a rework, the new kill cam takes the target’s skeleton into consideration. Bullets do weird, nasty things to the inside of a body when they ricochet around.
You start each mission with a pistol, a submachine gun, and your rifle. Your can change out and customize your weapons, with more guns unlocking as you play. You can customize your weapons between missions or at workbenches littered around each level. Changes to your weapons affect their overall stats, tweaking a score here and lowering one over there.
What a beautiful setting for murder
The areas you traverse while searching for clues about Project Kraken are based on real life locations. Using photogrammetry, 1944 France comes to life. Including lush vineyards and Nazi occupied castles, every location is full of stuff to see and do. To that end, the sheer amount of debris and clutter is impressive and seems natural. The world looks more lived-in than earlier games.
The levels are on the larger side, though they might not look it from the in-game map. This release has a lot more verticality than the games that came before. Ledges, ziplines, and overgrown trellises provide Karl a way to navigate the map and set up the perfect shot.
Bring your friends … or enemies
One of the more interesting additions this time around is the invasion feature. If you turn this option on — and and have an active internet connection — other players can invade your game. So, instead of just AI opponents, you can have a living, breathing adversary hunting you throughout the level. This inclusion increases tension and certainly can make your game sessions much more memorable.
Also here are a number of co-op game modes for you and your group of friends. As always, you can play the campaign with a friend. For a four player experience, survival mode is also back. Survival is a point defense match against waves of AI. Kind of a “horde mode,” if you will.
If killing other players is your thing, you can check out a variety of new game modes. Up to 16 players can join in and play in a variety of match types, including free-for-all and team mode. One of the more interesting match types is called “no cross,” where teams are on opposite sides of an impassible area.
Killing Hitler is fun
Sniper Elite 5 is exactly what I want from the series: new maps, new Nazis, and new ways to kill them. The only real let down is that the graphics have not evolved evolved from the last couple of iterations. The levels look great and are fun to explore, they just don’t have a next generation feel.
That said, this game is an absolute blast. The time I’ve spent stalking Nazis in the French countryside has been quite enjoyable. The additions and tweaks between this and the last game add to the experience instead of detracting or distracting.
I can’t wait to get back into France and kill some more Nazis with my friends.
Sniper Elite 5 releases on May 26 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. The publisher gave GamesBeat a PS5 code for this review
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