Though Karl Fairburne won all his battles in the first three Sniper Elite titles, World War II is far from over. The legendary marksman is set to continue the fight against the Nazis in a new franchise entry, Sniper Elite 4, which is out early next year.
What can we expect from the game? Does Karl still have a thing for slow mo kills? I got some hands on time with Sniper Elite 4 at E3 to find out.
The dev overseeing my session informs us all that the demo would start out with Karl being in a completely safe area. He would be surrounded by enemies however, so we would need to be very careful as to how we proceed. He recommends we all start out by pulling out our binoculars to tag the numerous threats and objectives that are scattered all over the bridge that sits right in front of us.
Having never played a Sniper Elite title in my life, I have no idea what the default button layout is like, so instead of asking for assistance, I took a calculated guess and push the first thing that comes to mind. Naturally, I fire my rifle instead of pulling out my binoculars. Nearby enemies hear the crack of a shot obviously. They head to my location cautiously. I meanwhile, dash to cover, and frantically try to figure out how the hell to aim my weapon. Somehow, I end up shouldering my rifle, and equip a silenced pistol instead.
How perfect! By the time my enemies reach me, I’ve somewhat come to grips with how things work. I put a bullet in both their heads before they even know I’m there. Phew, crisis averted – enemies on the bridge somehow seem oblivious to my presence.
My main objective for the demo (as far as I know) was to destroy the artillery weapon on top of the bridge. Having finally figured out how to equip my binoculars, I pulled them out and tagged all of the things around it, including enemies and explosive caches. Intel in Sniper Elite 4, as you’d expect, is important. I wouldn’t want anybody sneaking up or slipping off, would I? Knowledge is power!
All that hard work of spotting though proved to be useless as soon as I stepped out of cover. An enemy sniper atop the bridge saw me, and alerted his comrades to my presence. Needless to say, a few short minutes later, I was dead. I got swarmed big time.
Thankfully, the dev on duty was spectating another journalist at the time, so he missed out on my embarrassing death. I restarted the Sniper Elite 4 demo and rethought my strategy (basically: don’t fire the effing rifle within 0.5681 seconds of the mission starting).
I was well aware of the sniper that saw me last time this time around. I tagged him quickly for a later execution, but then a clever idea slipped into my noggin.
The artillery weapon was shooting pretty regularly, and loudly. Having no silencer attached to my sniper rifle, firing it would surely alert enemies to my presence, just as it had before. I could use the cover of the loud artillery bang to cover my own shot, right?
Yeah on paper that would’ve been the smart move. I was feeling impatient at the time though, so I lined up my shot, and fired at will.
And there it was – the slow mo goodness that the Sniper Elite franchise is known for. My bullet penetrated the enemy’s skull, through his eyeball I might add, in glorious, gruesome fashion. Sadly, there was no time to celebrate my kill. Enemies of course, knew where I was now. They rallied and moved toward my position. I was ready for them this time at least.
I performed a few more slow mo kills before I switched to my submachine gun – they were getting awfully close. I stacked up a good body count before I felt that perhaps the odds were just a little too unfavourable. I fell back, and decided to tackle another nearby side objective. Unfortunately, that was a short lived adventure. An armoured vehicle found me, and turned me into a pile of mincemeat.
That in a nutshell, was how my hands on time with Sniper Elite 4 went. I think it gave me a relatively good taste of what’s to come, at least in terms of actual gameplay. I don’t think I had nearly enough time to truly gauge if the AI was any good however. That was one of Darryn’s criticisms in his review of Sniper Elite 3. They seemed to be merely middling for the most part, but we’ll have to wait for the final product before we can see if enemies really have been improved or not.
Otherwise, I think fans of the franchise will be pleased as punch. More World War II shenanigans? Check. Sniper rifle with built in slowmo functionality (and delicious X-ray visuals)? Check.
Sniper Elite 4 will launch in February 2017. If you’re excited to get your hands on it, that’s not too much of a wait at least.