Sniper Elite 5 is back with more slow-motion murder a la francaise

Sniper Karl Fairburne is back again, this time popping skulls across the French countryside.


There is something to be said for things that stay consistent. Sure, some folks may complain that one AC/DC album sounds indistinguishable from the next, but would the world really be a better place if Angus Young and the boys opted to release an LP of Andean harp ballads? However you come down on the argument, one thing is certain. For the last decade, the last word in sniper action gaming has been Rebellion’s Sniper Elite series.

X-ray glory-kill shots for a new generation of consoles

The Sniper Elite series was born way back in 2005 and launched to mild success. The series lay dormant until 2012 when Rebellion took a second shot at the concept and managed to strike gold. Sniper Elite V2 built on the foundation of the first game, though it expanded the mission design, visual presentation, and gunplay mechanics. 

It was a solid third-person action game in a WW2 outfit, but what set it apart from its peers and made it a viral success on social media was the inclusion of slow-motion glory kill scenes where players could see their shots penetrate enemy flesh, tearing up internal organs and sending bone fragments in multiple directions. It was gruesome, over-the-top, and insanely popular with those playing the game.

Rebellion would go on to iterate on the formula with 2014’s Sniper Elite 3 and 2017’s Sniper Elite 4. After a five-year vacation from the spotlight, Rebellion is ready to bring its sniper action franchise to Sony and Microsoft’s shiny new consoles.

Sniper Elite 5 once again follows the exploits of Special Ops sniper Karl Fairburne. After shooting off all the balls in Germany in Sniper Elite V2, Fairburne then moved on to clear out all the enemy balls in the North African theater of WW2 as a part of Sniper Elite 3. When Sniper Elite 4 came along, Fairburne decided to decimate privates in the picturesque mountains and hills of 1940s Italy. With not much else left hanging in Europe in the wake of the previous 3 games, Sniper Elite 5 sees Fairburne taking his plum-busting talents to the French countryside.

Fairburne is deployed near the western coast of France in 1944 and quickly meets up with la resistance. Through a bit of military intel, the group becomes aware of a secret Nazi project by the name Operation Kraken that could rapidly end the war in favor of the Axis. Naturally, Fairburne and company must thwart this secret project to ensure the survival of the free world.

Once players have their feet on the fertile, grape-producing ground, the action is largely similar to Sniper Elite 4. In that game, Rebellion pushed mission design to be more open and allow players a few different ways to approach conflict (or skirt some of it altogether with stealth). This philosophy is further expanded in Sniper Elite 5. You will have a starting point and a general idea of the ultimate goal of your mission, but how everything plays out is firmly in the hand of the person on the stick.

You are in the tree line and need to eliminate some officers in a fortified residence. You can simply dash in with an SMG and Rambo your way through the front door or take your time and slowly pick off patrols and guards before you slither up a back wall vine as if you were some sort of untrustworthy snake. Sniper Elite 5 has multiple points of interaction in the game environment to allow for all sorts of approaches or ideas, from being able to hang on ledges like a cat burglar to crashing Nazi shindigs on a zip line.

Rebellion spent much of the time since the last game scouting real-world locations and collecting image samples in an effort to recreate the lush meadows and fields of 1944 France with a level of detail not seen before in the series. The same amount of detail has been poured into the various villas and enormous stone estates.

A similar amount of work has been done to expand available weapon attachments and customizations. Where weapons were a simple affair in earlier Sniper Elite games, the fifth outing makes available countless scopes, grips, and barrel attachments. Most folks should be able to dial in just the setup they need for the highest efficiency in blasting off private parts.

Hitler better watch his plums

I got a chance to play for myself via a guided remote session for press members. Stepping back into the shoes of Karl Fairburn felt instantly familiar. Within 35 seconds of taking control of the mouse and keyboard, I saw my first testicle explosion of 2022. Sure, it was effectively the exact same experience I had in 2012, but what mattered was that it felt right. Sometimes you don’t need to have the wheel reinvented. Sometimes you just need to shoot some balls and Sniper Elite 5 will be this summer’s comfort food (for those who live for x-ray kills). Make sure to dust off your beret, grab a pack of Lucky Strikes, and lubricate your shooting triggers ahead of Sniper Elite 5’s launch on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox SERIES X|S, and PC (via Epic Games Store and Steam) on May 26, 2022.

This preview is based on a remote version of a pre-release PC build. The preview opportunity was provided by the publisher for coverage consideration.

Contributing Tech Editor

Chris Jarrard likes playing games, crankin' tunes, and looking for fights on obscure online message boards. He understands that breakfast food is the only true food. Don't @ him.

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