Review – Sniper Elite 4 (Switch)

The Sniper Elite franchise is growing on me. The more I play this series of games, the more I enjoy its level structure, gameplay loop, high degree of player freedom, and most importantly, its ludicrous takedown cinematics. I still think this is how the Metal Gear franchise should have evolved to after Peace Walker, instead of the downright disappointment that was The Phantom Pain (yes, I stand by this statement). Rebellion has been doing a surprisingly competent job at porting a bunch of somewhat graphically detailed and technically complex games to the Switch’s hardware. Sniper Elite III ran surprisingly well on such underpowered specs. Time to see if 2017’s Sniper Elite 4 has achieved similar results.

Sniper Elite 4

These lighting effects and textures aren’t half-bad for a Switch game.

Sniper Elite 4 continues the story of the world’s most uninteresting war hero. The dude so bland I can’t even bother remembering his name. He’s once again on his quest to kill as many Nazis as possible in large, pseudo-sandbox-ish levels. This time around, our lovable plank of wood of a hero is visiting Italy. You’ll be greeted with beautiful villas, vineyards, sunny skies and gorgeous coastlines, as well as tons of enemies for you to kill in any way you see fit.

I really like Sniper Elite 4‘s level design. These are linear levels, but they are gigantic, with tons of objectives to complete, be it mandatory or optional. You’re told where to go, but you’re never told how to go to said location. You are simply told to figure things out by yourself. You are also given a ton of weapons to use from the get-go, as well as a pair of binoculars that can be used to pinpoint objectives or locate enemies from a distance. It works surprisingly well, even in portable mode.

Sniper Elite 4

Karolin, who told you to marry a Nazi?

Do you want to go full Rambo and murder every Nazi in sight with a machine gun, going completely against the franchise’s own title? You will have a hard time having to deal with tons of intelligent AI enemies at once, as they aren’t as dim-witted as the foes from Sniper Elite III. But hey, if that’s what you want to do, go for it. Want to be a sneaky ninja and reach your objective without being noticed? You can also do that as well. It’s not exactly fun, but it’s doable. Finally, do you want to act like an irritating sniper, blasting everyone’s organs out from a distance? Go for it!

This slow-paced yet cathartic gameplay loop works well on a portable, to my utter surprise. Levels can take hours to be completed, but you can always save the game at any point and resume it from that moment. The forgettable story makes you care very little about the plot’s progression or any of the characters talking to the player. Even if the sound department has been vastly improved over its predecessor, I still find Sniper Elite 4‘s voice acting to be terrible, so playing it in portable mode is actually a godsend in this regard.

Sniper wins. Fatality.

I was worried that the Switch wouldn’t be able to properly handle Sniper Elite 4‘s gigantic levels in a decent manner. Recent ports of less hardware-demanding games, such as Serious Sam 3 and The Outer Worlds, made me worry that the console was reaching its limits when it comes to what it can actually render without facing severe graphical or framerate compromises.

Thankfully enough, that’s not the case in here. Sure, it’s nowhere near as beautiful as its PS4 and Xbox One counterparts, but Sniper Elite 4 runs incredibly well on the Switch. The framerate is almost always achieving its target 30fps goal. The lighting effects are actually quite good, the textures are decent, and the game’s staple ultraviolent x-ray camera cutscenes are still as gory and gratuitous as they have always been. It also runs well in portable mode. You’re always able to properly aim at a faraway enemy, something that was a serious issue in the port of Sniper Elite V2. All in all, I can safely say this is a technical achievement on the Switch’s limited hardware.

I cannot think of a more painful death.

Rebellion keeps impressing me with how well they’ve been able to port their more hardware demanding games for the Switch. Sniper Elite 4 is, without a doubt, their best title in the platform so far. It features great visuals, a surprisingly stable framerate, and the best level design in the series so far. Whether you want to be a loud and abrasive death machine, or if you just want to be a fear-inducing shadow warrior killing enemies from a distance, Sniper Elite 4‘s got you covered. Now with the added benefit of portable play!

 

Graphics: 8.0

A technical achievement on the Switch’s limited hardware. Lighting effects are decent and the levels are downright immense. There are some low-quality assets being reused at all times, as well as some occasional performance issues, but the game still runs surprisingly well on the Switch.

Gameplay: 8.0

You will need a few minutes in order to get used to the game’s unique control scheme, but it will become second nature after a while. Enemy AI has been slightly improved and the amount of ways you can tackle each objective is actually impressive.

Sound: 7.0

The soundtrack is good, weapons pack a punch, and the overall sound mixing has been improved, but the voice acting is still awful.

Fun Factor: 8.5

Sniper Elite 4 features bigger levels, better visuals, smoother controls, and more ways for you to complete your objectives. The story might be dull, but it’s still a very fun game, delivering on where it matters the most.

Final Verdict: 8.0

Sniper Elite 4 is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of Sniper Elite 4 was provided by the publisher.