Fifth installment in the series, Sniper Elite 5 sees itself taking over the torch from a fourth part, a little more innovative, released in 2017 and that of a license almost 20 years old. While the original recipe has remained unchanged, over the years the Rebellion studio has carved out a place for its Sniper Elite titles in the highly competitive universe of third-party tactical shooters, in particular thanks to aspects of iconic gameplay that have become their trademark. . If the fourth opus could have reinvented the wheel thanks to its open world missions and enriched mechanics, would this be the case for Sniper Elite 5? The answer in our test.
Test performed on Xbox Series X thanks to a digital version sent by the publisher
Here we go again like in 40!
Sniper Elite promises an unparalleled tactical shooting experience and takes us back to the days of World War II. This time it will be at the side of Karl Fairburne, an outstanding fighter and German by birth who has chosen to use his talents for the Allies and turn his heels against the Axis forces. The story is set on the coast of Normandy and Brittany in the days leading up to the famous D-DAY, or the landing of June 6, 1944. Your mission is simple, weaken the defenses along the Channel and Atlantic coasts to allow for the massive influx of troops. In collusion with the French Resistance, the Allies are sending you valuable information that will help you track down what appears to be a large-scale Nazi operation: Operation Kraken.
The latter could well turn the war in favor of the enemy occupier. Then follows an investigation in which you will have to discover what the Axis powers really intend to put an end to, all with your precision scope, of course. Very classic, the screenplay doesn’t shine but that has never been the strong point of the license. However, we will take note of Rebellion’s many efforts in this area. Indeed, although Operation Kraken – in theory – never existed, the adventure sometimes takes place in places that do exist for their part, as in particular the case of the city of Saint Nazaire and its famous shipyards on the Atlantic coast or that from the town of Beaumont Saint Denis which is strongly inspired by the famous Mont Saint-Michel. With photogrammetric processes, certain sets are heavily inspired, enhancing player immersion and creating environments that are more than life.
As was already the case in Sniper Elite 4, the missions take place in fairly large open areas and with multiple infiltration and extraction points, side targets and optional targets to shoot down. The game has nine main missions, but in reality the last mission only has a name because it is a formality that ends in just 5 minutes, so rather eight missions. Allow 10 hours on normal difficulty to complete the main missions and most secondary objectives. A little light for a game at the suggested retail price of €59.99. Fortunately, we want more and the missions can easily be restarted. Despite a fairly standard scenario, the variety of main objectives and attachments does not surprise in a good way, making it possible to practically forget about the redundancy of the mechanics (infiltrate, kill, sabotage).
To refresh the genre, some new fantasies have also emerged with Sniper Elite 5, such as zip lines, slides on steep slopes, or the ability to sneak along ledges to reach strategic places and shoot your targets. † In addition, although it may seem like a good idea, it is still not possible for our hero to jump in place and we have to settle for an animation and a script (cross) to get around an obstacle, when the game gives us allows (which is not always the case…). While optional, completing alternate goals unlocks information about the primary goal so you can achieve your goal in a variety of ways. Not only does this allow for great freedom of movement, but it also gives the title great replayability. Not to mention collectibles and weapons workshops can be found all over the maps: finding these and completing secondary objectives will unlock cosmetic items, as well as weapons and accessories for your main character.
Each mission, achievement, or objective will give you experience points that can be spent across three different skill categories, unlocking significant advantages here and there in battle. Coming from RPGs, we might think this mechanic adds a lot of unnecessary complexity to the title, but it doesn’t. Rather, it allows you to set goals to achieve and feel a constant sense of progress throughout the adventure. Sometimes it gives the desire to restart a mission to accomplish it in a different way thanks to a new weapon or skill. The weapon tactics have also been made more complex, depending on the difficulty level selected, certain parameters will have to be taken into account more or less: gravity, wind and the heartbeat of the main hero.
The difficulty is also quite well controlled, the selection of this or that difficulty will force you to use different strategies. The higher the difficulty, the more your HUD is empty of all the help. A high alert level will assure you of difficulties in achieving your goals. Sometimes because the enemies are too numerous or sometimes for the wrong reasons, but we’ll get to that later. In addition, the multiplayer dimension could no longer be emphasized in Sniper Elite 5. We find there the traditional matchmaking modes – which we could not try because of early access – survival mode, coop mode but also and above all a bit new: the invasion mode. A brand new feature, this mode allows you to invade another player’s countryside as an Axis sniper with the aim of tracking down and eliminating them. Many cosmetic accessories and weapons can be unlocked thanks to this mode which can be activated/deactivated at any time.
A sniper but a jammed weapon
Unfortunately, and like its predecessors, the title is tinged with many inconsistencies and is not free of flaws. For a game that emphasizes stealth, the gameplay is way too stiff and at times feels like you’re driving a heavy truck with no power steering, which, we have to admit, isn’t very practical when it comes to being discreet. Conversely, a dead or unconscious body moves like a rag doll – a little heavy but not too much – giving rise to disjointed choreographies when it is necessary to hide them. In addition to moving like an ox, our hero is undoubtedly deaf as a pot because he speaks alone, non-stop and in a loud voice. Along tall grass, weapons or worse… enemies, Karl Fairburne always goes there with his little commentary.
Which has a knack for being very annoying when consistency and realism are the focal points of games that emphasize infiltration. Fortunately, this warns not close enemies who are not much smarter. The AI tends to quickly forget the player or throw itself into the wolf’s mouth. For example, when we were cornered, all we had to do was climb to the top of a platform and wait at the top of the ladder for the enemies to pick them up one by one and pile the corpses at the base of our stick. The writing is also one of the downsides of the title, the exchanges don’t fly high and don’t give much information about the main characters or about the elements of the mission, the cutscenes are unnecessarily long and boring. The characters are run over, their story is little or not developed and caricatured. However, the dubbings are quite successful in these schoolboy exchanges and are mostly consistent, especially when a French resistance fighter has to speak in English, we’ll let you guess why.
Besides the fact that there is not much information available, the first missions are very boring. In question: the lack of unlocked skills and the lack of suitable equipment because they can only be unlocked later in the game.From the beginning, therefore, we take in our hands a hero, a little nerd, with no infiltration equipment worthy of the name that itself the simple and modest objective of facilitating the most ambitious and significant amphibious military operation ever conducted; only that. Fortunately, a bit like a fine wine that refines with age, Sniper Elite 5’s mechanics are well oiled and the gameplay remains exciting despite everything.
Pretty soon, after taking a few headshots with the famous slow motions dear to the license, we unlock new equipment and new skills that make it easier to understand the missions available to us. In addition, the sets of the first missions could not be classic for games of the genre. From the 3rd and beyond, Rebellion was able to surprise us by offering sometimes breathtaking panoramas, lush environments where environmental chaos and abundant nature try to find harmony with sometimes real mazes with masterful level design.
Accompanied by an original soundtrack that sometimes borders on excellence for certain missions, however, it’s a shame that the game is so unappealing graphically because it has the potential for it. We haven’t seen a glaring graphical improvement since the last opus, dated 2017. The fact that the title has been passed down from generation to generation is sadly felt too strongly and the latter could only have been released on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, only that would be understandable. to be.
Five years after the previous opus, fans of the Sniper Elite license and bullet times will be delighted with this new opus that brings some novelties to the gameplay without reinventing the formula. Only drastic novelty: the invasion mode that makes it possible to invade another player’s campaign to try to eliminate it. Very exciting, this mechanism suddenly and drastically increases the difficulty as we are no longer faced with AIs – not very smart – but a trigger-happy player. However, the fun is often nuanced, the flaw with too heavy mechanics, way too classic scenario and inconsistencies in gameplay. However, the recipe works and it is with pleasure that we are surprised to restart a game to test new formulas. We would also have appreciated that Sniper Elite 5 benefited from better graphics, as the difference is not apparent to its younger brother, even on the latest console generation. Fortunately, this graphic misstep is practically forgiven, as the artistic direction has captivated us quite often at times, masterly level design and soundtrack.