Sniper Elite 5 PS5 Review. Rebellion‘s bone-shattering, organ-smashing sharpshooter franchise is like a well-oiled machine at this point. Its gratifying marriage of methodical gameplay, intense sniping, and sprawling environments peppered with multiple objectives has helped it calve out its own identity, even if it lacks the production values seen in contemporary shooters.
Sniper Elite 5 is pretty much the quintessential example of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ and that’s perfectly fine. For the most part, Rebellion has taken what worked in its predecessor and offered incremental improvements, rather than tinkering with the guts of the franchise and giving it a complete reworking.
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Fortunately, that design philosophy has resulted in what is easily the best Sniper Elite experience to date.
Sniper Elite 5 PS5 Review – Rebellion’s Sharpshooter Its Most Successful Entry Yet
Adrenaline-Pumping Sniping Behind Enemy Lines
Sniper Elite 5 reunites players with long-time protagonist Karl Fairburne, who finally seems to have gained a personality: he’s now gruff and stoic, as opposed to just, well, gruff. Let’s face it though; you don’t play Sniper Elite for nuanced characterisation, least of all from Fairburne. He’s just the reason you get to shoot Nazis in the knackers.
This time around, Fairburne finds himself behind enemy lines in France, where he uncovers a Nazi plan known as Operation Kraken. This nefarious scheme could turn the tides of war in favour of Hitler and his followers, so it’s up to you to stop it in its tracks.
In doing so, you’ll be surreptitiously making your way through a series of diverse locations, including the lush French countryside, industrial complexes, towering chateaus, Nazi strongholds, and more.
The scope of each environment is where Sniper Elite 5 flexes its muscles, as Rebellion has injected a large dollop of verticality into locations (you can now scale walls and climbable vines) not to mention expanding on the general size of each combat zone.
While some locations are pretty straightforward in their approach and design, others encompass multiple levels, requiring you to cross multiple terrain and explore buildings. This keeps things fresh and ensures each environment has its own unique personality, and also encourages multiple playthroughs, as you can unlock new drop-off points as you progress.
Locations Are Huge And Dripping With Tactical Opportunity
One of the greatest strengths of Sniper Elite 5 is how much freedom you are afforded in your mission. Yes, the game punishes you if you’re spotted and an out-and-out gun battle breaks out, but there’s no auto-fail. Muck up, and you can salvage the mission, but it’ll be a lot more difficult to get the drop on your foes.
Getting plonked into a sprawling location with one objective blinking on your map is just the start; Missions are rippling with tactical nuance, and how you go about things is entirely down to you. Do you risk alerting your foes for a quick clean kill, or take your time and remain undetected?
Tagging foes from a distance before picking them off as the sound of a JU-87 dive bomber masks you gun fire, using grass as cover to sneak up on a soldier before knocking them out, or taking out an enemy vehicle by blasting its petrol tank feels hugely rewarding.
Indeed, you’ll soon settle into a methodical rhythm of spying enemies with your binoculars, picking them off (you can opt for non-lethal means but unconscious foes can be revive), and pressing slowly forward.
While this is bread-and-butter for Sniper Elite, it hasn’t lost any of its appeal, and the sheer scale of the locations means you have to be even more vigilant than before.
Multiple Objectives Keep You Busy, And There’s Plenty Of Ways To Play
As mentioned, there’s more than just the main objectives to distract you. Sniper Elite 5 is pulsing with numerous side quests and collectibles to hoover up, which, while not mandatory, offer a great challenge and help push up your overall rank.
These mostly have you disabling enemy defences such as AA guns, finding documents, eliminating key Nazi officials, and other such tasks. Sure, it’s nothing you haven’t seen before, but it helps flesh out each stage and usually has you venturing off the beaten path, as it were.
One side objective tasks you with gunning down a key Nazi soldier in the midst of a huge chateau, flanked by armed goons. You also get more XP if you manage to fallen the poor bugger with a chandelier. In many ways, these side distractions are more challenging than your main goal.
Speaking of XP, you’ll accumulate Skill Points to spend on Combat, Equipment, and Body buffs that affect how many explosives you can carry carry, boosting your health and focus, the ability to fire when downed, and more.
Meanwhile, the workbench is stuffed full of attachments for your weapons, giving you access to different bullet types (armor piercing rounds, soft-tipped slugs etc) scopes, stocks, and more to really personalise your loadout.
These attachments also affect bullet drop, sound, aim, and recoil etc, so you’ll want to mix and match to see what works. It’s pretty addictive stuff, and give your equipment that personal touch.
Enemies Ain’t No Pushover, But Combat Remains Solid As Ever
Sniper Elite 5’s enemy AI is pretty unforgiving in places, and if you’re spotted, it’s a bit of an arse ache to reclaim stealth status. Your adversaries are tenacious buggers; they’ll pin you down in groups, flank you, search around every nook and cranny once they’ve lost sight of you, and react to pretty much anything – be it a gunshot, footstep, or dead body.
This not only keeps you vigilant, but also encourages you to remain hidden. Yes, you can go in guns blazing, but it’s a messy job and there’s no sense of doing so unless you have no other choice.
Fortunately, Sniper Elite 5’s meat-and-potatoes combat is as reliable as comfy pair of slippers. Popping out of cover to zoom in on a target before watching a bullet fly through the air in slow motion and shattering some poor sod’s skull via X-Ray cam is still a viscerally-soaked adrenaline rush.
The DualSense implementation is great, too. Squeezing the trigger slightly will put you in over-the-shoulder aim, while holding it down has you look down the sights/scope.
Once you’ve found your mark, the adaptive triggers resist as you slowly apply pressure on the trigger, before the satisfying boom of your round leaving the barrel signals another kill.
Meanwhile, ducking around corners, going prone and scaling walls is pretty effortless, although sometimes Karl doesn’t stick to cover and awkwardly fumbles next to a wall before hunkering down. The AI also crapped the bed a few times, failing to spot me right next to them and simply running around the corner allowing me to melee them one by one.
On the plus side, I didn’t encounter any frame drops, and with the action running smooth and relatively bug-free. Sniper Elite 5 looks great in places, but there’s a distinct whiff of last-gen about the overall visual presentation.
The game’s locations are the star of the show, with picturesque villages, sun-soaked beaches, gloomy factories, and the sumptuous architecture of sprawling chateaus proving winning eye candy amidst the incongruously plastic-looking cast.
Alone Or With A Friend, Sniper Elite 5 Is A Winner
The multiplayer suite is your standard affair of free-for-all or squadding up with teams to take down the opposing forces, although I wasn’t able to find a match during my time with the review code. Survival is worth a shot, and changes up the pace as enemies come thick and fast, resulting in much more action-oriented combat with automatics and explosives.
The campaign can also be played in co-op, which adds a new dimension to the proceedings as you have a mate to further strategies your efforts with.
By far the most interesting aspect however is the Axis Invasion feature. This allows you to invade another player’s campaign as a Nazi sniper, or have someone rock up in your game if you leave the option on.
The sniper has preset skills and can rally German troops to help spot your target, and there’s a palpable sense of excitement as you stalk your quarry around the battlefield. Even if you’re not into this type of mode, it’s worth trying out even just once to add a new wrinkle to the core experience.
Sniper Elite 5 finds the franchise as its strongest to date. It builds on what made its predecessor so successful by expanding on the larger-scale environments, and stuffs them full of things to see and do. Throw in the exhilarating combat and always-satisfying X-Ray kills, and you’ve got the best Sniper Elite to date.
Sniper Elite 5 is scheduled for release on May 26, 2022 for PS5, PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X/S, and Xbox One.
Review code kindly provided by publisher.