Sniper Elite 5 Review
The Sniper Elite 5 series has returned for a new generation, but should it have?
REASONS TO BUY
+ Slow-mo sniping feels incredibly satisfying
+ Invasion Mode is a fun new addition
+ Weapon customisation is extensive
REASONS TO AVOID
- Story is very forgettable with poor voice acting
- Combat outside of stealth is lacking
- Some annoying bugs
It's never felt so good to shoot Nazis. It was the fifth and final mission of Sniper Elite 5. Explosions engulfed the entire area, and the enemy had cornered me into the back of a wooden crate, where I was under heavy fire. I quickly notice one attempting to outflank my position. "Nice try," I think to myself as I prepare an SREM-1 sniper rifle. I unleash a one-in-a-million shot that shatters the soldier's head just as he slides out of sight. Wunderbar.
After a five-year hiatus, heroic marksman Karl Fairburne returns to thwart more Nazis from a safe distance or up close and personal. It's a simple premise – basically, kill everyone and recover whatever MacGuffin you need to advance the plot – but is that a bad thing?
What piqued my interest the most was how methodical the combat is, taking gravity, wind, and even Karl's own heart rate into account to make the perfect shot. Sniper Elite 5 piqued my interest with new "immersive" maps, expanded weapon customization, and the addition of a new mode in which you can invade other people's games.
SNIPER ELITE 5 REVIEW – PRICE AND RELEASE DATE
- What is it? The fifth instalment in the Sniper Elite series, starring protagonist Karl Fairburne, is a third-person tactical stealth shooter.
- Release date? May 26, 2022
- What platforms can I play it on? PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC
- Price? $59.99 / £54.99 / AU$89.95 (PS / Xbox), $49.99 / £44.99 / AU$69.95 (PC)
SNIPER ELITE 5 REVIEW – WHAT IS IT?
Sniper Elite 5 is a third-person tactical shooter with a strong emphasis on stealth combat, though going in all guns blazing is an optional, but a typically less effective, option. You are dropped into a sandbox open world-like area with a list of main and side missions to complete before being forced to exfiltrate over the course of nine levels.
Switching from sniper to machine gun frequently feels like a mistake, and the game punishes the player for it with heavy resistance. Attempting to hide behind cover or flee was also futile. It was easier to cut my losses, return to the previous checkpoint, and start over. Essentially, the game penalises using anything other than a sniper and stealth kills (knife), with larger firearms only being used as a last resort. Instead of providing an unnecessary temptation, I prefer to remove the option entirely.
The story takes place in France from May to July 1944 (around the time of D-Day), where Karl discovers Operation Kraken, a new Nazi superweapon. It is up to the French Resistance and the US elite sniper, led by the malevolent Abelard Möller, to discover what the Axis forces are planning and put an end to it. It's been done to death narratively, so it's very forgettable, and it's only there to get our lead from point A to point B. Returning players will be aware that story has never been the primary focus, whereas newcomers hoping for more should look elsewhere.
The main campaign can be played solo or in co-op with a friend, and there are several online modes to choose from, including Survival, Multiplayer, and Axis Invasion. The latter is where you intrude on someone else's game and must track them down. Meanwhile, Survival (up to four players) has you defending against waves of enemies, while Multiplayer (up to 16 players) has the standard match types you'd expect, such as Free-For-All and Team Match.
Additionally, those who pre-order Sniper Elite 5 will receive a day-one DLC level called 'Wolf Mountain.' It costs $6.99 / £5.59 and, like previous entries, has the player attempting to assassinate Adolf Hitler. This was unavailable to play during the review period, which is a little disappointing because I'm never a fan of content being held back like this, especially when it's a full-priced release.
SNIPER ELITE 5 REVIEW – HOW DOES IT PLAY?
The core gameplay of Sniper Elite is fantastic. It's slow, structured, and requires patience – this isn't Call of Duty – and most closely resembles the Hitman series. In general, I found myself approaching a new area and using the binoculars to tag enemies. I'd then look to pick off said enemies one by one with subsonic (quiet) ammo, or carve a path for myself to sneak up and make some stealthy kills.
Each kill may be captured on a cinematic X-ray kill cam, which shows the bullet erupting from the weapon's barrel before ripping through the air and pulverising the enemy in a glorious, grisly fashion. Eat your heart out, Mortal Kombat! Attaching a grenade to a dead soldier was an unexpected delight, and I'd be on the other side of the map, only for the killcam to suddenly rear its head and show me another brutal Nazi death.
The weapon wheel can include SMGs, handguns, explosives, decoys, and health packs in addition to your trustee Sniper rifle. A weapon wheel is a fairly common feature in video games these days, but this one was not nearly as sensitive as it should have been. The number of times I went for one thing only to bring up another was becoming increasingly frustrating, resulting in a few unneeded deaths.
Weapon customization, on the other hand, is extremely well done via Workbenches scattered throughout the map. Everything from scopes and barrels to muzzles and magazines is taken into account, allowing you to create the sniper of your dreams. When playing on PlayStation 5, the DualSense's adaptive triggers produce a lot of tension while shooting, creating a fun push and pull dynamic with the controller whenever you try to fire another shot in quick succession.
Additional modes, such as Survival, have their moments but are unlikely to last as long as many would like. Axis Invasion is a fun game that creates a cat and mouse scenario as you carefully listen for sounds and gather clues from fellow comrades as to where the player is. However, the odds seem heavily stacked in favour of the invader, so I eventually toggled the option off due to time constraints.
Developer Rebellion is said to be working on a day-one patch that will supposedly fix a number of common bugs. Having said that, I did have to deal with NPC voice acting issues, enemies getting stuck in walls, my extraction point not appearing, and an endless reloading glitch. All of these required the game to reload to the previous autosave. It might be worth waiting a couple of weeks to get these ironed out.
SNIPER ELITE 5 REVIEW – HOW DOES IT LOOK AND SOUND?
Sniper Elite 5 has an intriguing visual style. The actual gameplay looks fantastic, whether it's the English Channel's soaked trenches or the achingly beautiful heights of Beaumont-Saint-Denis (based on Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey in Normandy). The death animations are a little silly, but I think that helps because without them, the game would become far too serious.
With 4K and 60FPS support on PS5 and Xbox Series X, I did encounter one major frame rate issue that made the game unplayable. Aside from this one-time hiccup, it ran relatively smoothly for the most part, and it should be even better by launch. Bonus points for including a photo mode and a good selection of accessibility options, such as colorblind mode, aim assist, scope sensitivity, motion blur, and so on.
The most disappointing aspect is the cinematography, which is lifeless and marred by generic patriotic music. As I finished the mission by jumping into a jeep, I noticed Karl now piloting a boat – had I missed something? Similarly, the voice acting is cheesy, with character arcs that are so thin that you know their endgame the moment you meet them.
Sound is an important gameplay component that should be used wisely. One method is to destroy a generator that obscures Karl's footsteps or weapon shots. Another method is to attack whenever a bomber plane passes overhead. It's very cool, and I wish more mission tasks incorporated this concept.
SNIPER ELITE 5 REVIEW – HOW LONG TO BEAT?
Sniper Elite 5 took me 13 hours to complete the campaign, with each of the nine main levels (excluding the finale) taking between 90 minutes and two and a half hours to complete. After spending nearly 200 hours on games like Horizon Forbidden West and Elden Ring in the months prior, this was extremely refreshing. Sniper Elite 5 never overstays its welcome, which I appreciate.
In theory, online multiplayer, Axis Invasion, and Survival provide limitless playtime depending on how much time you want to invest. I'll update this review once I've played more.
SNIPER ELITE 5 TRAILET
The gameplay in Sniper Elite 5 is slow, methodical, and richly satisfying. Despite a few bugs and a forgettable story, it has a lot to offer for both newcomers and veterans, thanks to its extensive range of weapon customizations and newly added game mode in Axis Invasion. Sniper Elite 5 never overstays its welcome, giving you a good bang for your buck and proving that shooting Nazis is still a lot of fun.