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Sniper Elite 5 review: Right on target

Rebellion delivers another solid stealth-shooter with Sniper Elite 5.

6

Ten entries in, the Sniper Elite franchise knows exactly what it is. There’s going to be a lot of sniping Nazis, gory x-ray animations, and a healthy serving of stealth in between. Sniper Elite 5 is the latest iteration of that model and delivers on all fronts. In addition to the standard franchise fixings, Sniper Elite 5 ups the ante with some new modes and features.

Overlords

Once again dropping players into the brutal World War 2 setting, Sniper Elite 5 centers around the infamous D-Day that took place in France in 1944. Players take on the role of Karl Fairburne a US ranger sent on a covert mission to weaken Nazi forces along the coast. Fairburne soons finds himself in the thick of a dangerous Nazi plot that he’ll need to team up with French Resistance forces in order to stop.

It’s more or less your standard World War 2 story. An adaptation of true events that takes the necessary liberties to make it feel fresh and interesting, especially for a franchise that’s published multiple games in this setting. Fairburne is a bit of a surface-level protagonist, but he’s got that level-headed badass quality that makes him a good enough Nazi-slaying avatar.

Throughout his journey, Fairburne will meet and ally himself with a number of different characters, many of which I found to be pretty interesting. I was always fascinated when side characters would pop back up and was genuinely curious to learn more about them.

Stealthy is healthy

Although the campaign in Sniper Elite 5 isn’t completely open-world, each mission features a pretty large level that makes the game feel a lot less linear than it actually is. For example, my primary objective may be 600 meters away at a Nazi base camp, but along the way I’ll likely discover at least a couple distractions that’ll pull me off that path. This includes a list of valuable targets that can be tracked down and killed for bonus rewards, as well as weapon caches that can be sabotaged. There were several instances where I just zagged in the opposite direction of the main objective and spent an hour screwing around with side tasks and extras.

The combat itself is exactly what fans expect from the Sniper Elite series - a lot of sniping enemies, with the iconic x-ray popping up for the most brutal kills. Though it’s certainly not a new mechanic, it’s still extremely satisfying to follow the bullet in slow motion and watch it pierce the helmet, skull, and brain of an unsuspecting Nazi soldier.

Guns in Sniper Elite 5 feel responsive and tactile. This doesn’t just apply to the sniper rifles, but the submachine guns, sidearms, and other weapons featured in the game. There are also workbenches littered throughout the world that players can use to customize their weapon, adding and swapping attachments to change how the weapon performs in combat.

In true Sniper Elite fashion, gameplay in SE 5 heavily revolves around stealth. Whether you’re infiltrating an enemy base or trying to eliminate a target in an open field, it’s all about being a ghost and staying undetected for as long as possible. I appreciated how robust the UI is in Sniper Elite 5. From outlines around my character to different indicators and symbols in my HUD, I felt like I was always being given helpful information when deciding where to go and who to target. There’s even a feature that shows the player their last known location, which is where enemies will go to search for you. I was able to set off a string of traps with this mechanic on a number of occasions.

The invasion begins

Sniper Elite 5 adds a brand new mode with Axis Invasions. An increasingly popular staple of online games, this allows players to invade your game mid-mission and attempt to kill you. It increases the tension and offers a legitimate challenge in between the waves of AI enemies that you go up against.

As an incentive to invade other players, there is exclusive gear and cosmetics that players can earn from successfully eliminating other players through the Axis Invasion mode.

Sniper Elite 5 also sees the return of standard online multiplayer which lets players face off in a handful of different modes. This includes free-for-all, Team Match, and No Cross. Players can customize their loadouts, earn experience, and rank up. Since I was playing the game prior to its official launch, I was only able to experience a very limited slice of Sniper Elite 5’s online features, but I wasn’t disappointed with what I played.

Staring down the scope

Sniper Elite 5 is quite a good looking game, with the weapon designs and textures jumping out as particularly impressive. However, I felt that some of the facial animations left a bit to be desired. During cutscenes, there were often moments where somebody’s mouth would be moving, and it didn’t exactly match the words I was hearing. A bit of an uncanny valley scenario that made me giggle at moments that weren’t meant to be funny.

As for sound, I was quite pleased with how Rebellion weaved audio into gameplay. It’s custom to hear gunfire, explosions, and loud machinery as ambient noise. In Sniper Elite 5, the audio level is displayed at the top of your screen with a volume meter. Players can use loud sounds to their advantage, as they’ll provide additional cover for you to fire a couple rounds or do some quick sprinting without being discovered. It was yet another way that Sniper Elite 5 invited me to be creative with my planning and execution.

Playing on PC, Sniper Elite 5 felt like a bit of a resource hog. It was demanding on my system and had a clear impact on other programs I was running, even when lowering and adjusting settings. That said, I was playing on an early build and the final product could end up being better optimized; it’s just something I noticed while playing.

In elite company

Sniper Elite 5 is a game that knows exactly what it is, and delivers on all fronts. The x-ray kills are as good as ever, and improvements to stealth and level design make the campaign enjoyable between the moments where you’re shooting through a guy’s eyeball. The Axis Invasion mode adds an entirely new dynamic to multiplayer, which still features the standard modes for a more traditional experience. It’s hard to imagine fans of the series not being satisfied with what’s there in Sniper Elite 5.


This review is based on a digital Steam copy provided by the publisher. Sniper Elite 5 launches on May 26 for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC for $59.99 USD.

News Editor

Donovan is a young journalist from Maryland, who likes to game. His oldest gaming memory is playing Pajama Sam on his mom's desktop during weekends. Pokémon Emerald, Halo 2, and the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 were some of the most influential titles in awakening his love for video games. After interning for Shacknews throughout college, Donovan graduated from Bowie State University in 2020 with a major in broadcast journalism and joined the team full-time. He is a huge Star Wars nerd and film fanatic that will talk with you about movies and games all day. You can follow him on twitter @Donimals_

Review for
Sniper Elite 5
9
Pros
  • X-ray kills are as satisfying as ever
  • Axis Invasions are a welcomed addition
  • Open level design
  • Weapon customization offers variety
Cons
  • Performance struggles on PC
  • Dated facial animations
From The Chatty
  • reply
    May 25, 2022 4:00 AM

    Donovan Erskine posted a new article, Sniper Elite 5 review: Right on target

    • reply
      May 25, 2022 5:24 AM

      Awesome

    • reply
      May 25, 2022 5:41 AM

      9? Insane how far this series has come

    • reply
      May 25, 2022 6:44 AM

      Did you get any coop in?

    • reply
      May 25, 2022 9:13 AM

      it's unlocking at 5p PT on PC. bizarre

    • reply
      May 25, 2022 9:15 AM

      Wait, this is on gamepass?

      • reply
        May 25, 2022 9:28 AM

        yep

      • reply
        May 25, 2022 3:31 PM

        Yes indeed. I pre-installed it via the Xbox app on Windows 10 already.

    • reply
      May 25, 2022 7:17 PM

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-BkrwO_Dck \m/ :) \m/ , massive thanks for the review!

      Sounds really dope, I am a big fan of the series and this sound like the best follow up yet!

      Looks like the weekend is going to own!!!!!!!

      • reply
        May 25, 2022 7:19 PM

        It's great. Loving the first 2 missions so far

        • reply
          May 25, 2022 7:24 PM

          No way, you have it and are playing it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!????? Are you on the PC???? If you on the PC how does it look compared to the last game, not that it matters but still???? Is it juiced !!!!!??????

          I am not going to lie the open world structure has me super juiced, I can't wait to play it!!!!

          • reply
            May 25, 2022 8:25 PM

            No PC just Xbox. It runs at a pretty solid 60fps, some dips. I imagine on a beefy apc it's smooth as silk

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