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'Sniper Elite 5' Review: X-Ray Kills You Can Really Feel

'Sniper Elite 5' Review: X-Ray Kills You Can Really Feel

It's always fun shooting a Nazi in the nuts.

I tentatively squeeze the adaptive triggers of my PS5 controller. Moments later, it vibrates as a bullet travels through the eye of a Nazi officer, cracking his skull in visceral slow-motion. Sniper Elite is back for more. Mostly more of the same, but back for more nonetheless. 

One of the best parts of Sniper Elite 5, for me anyway, is the haptic feedback on the PlayStation 5 controller. It adds another layer to the game’s main gimmick: the X-ray kill cam. It’s as satisfying to watch a .50 Caliber round rupture a Nazi’s left testicle as it is in any of the other games in the series, but now you can feel it. I’m sure a lot of players will pick up Sniper Elite 5 on Xbox Game Pass when it releases, but if you have the means, I definitely recommend the PS5 version for this reason alone. Unfortunately, it’s the only part of the game that feels ‘next-gen’ at all.

Sniper Elite 5 /

Sniper Elite 5 is set in 1944 France and puts the player in the shoes of Karl Fairburne once again. The story mainly focuses on hunting down antagonist Obergruppenführer Möller and his elusive ‘Operation Kraken’, which is supposed to turn the war in favour of the Axis powers. It’s the same generic World War 2 storyline we’ve seen countless times before, with side characters that are entirely forgettable once you put your controller down. 

The game looks fine, though it feels very much a AA game, with visuals that wouldn’t stand out on last-gen consoles. Sniper Elite 5 boasts some impressively-large maps, with each looking distinctly different from the last. From an angelic Abbey at the top of a secret island to a grungy war factory - many of the vistas at the start of each mission are gorgeous. However, these maps aren’t always that intuitive to navigate.

The large maps are great and allow for a plethora of different playstyles, but when your movement is very limited, it doesn’t always work. Too much time is spent running from one side of a town to the other, only to be blocked off by a bush or an unclimbable wall - so you have to run all the way back as protagonist Karl wheezes like a smoker going to the toilet in a Wetherspoons. Furthermore, the repetitive nature of the objectives available starts to get really noticeable when playing several missions back to back. There are only so many anti-aircraft guns you can blow up before you lose interest. 

Sniper Elite 5 /

Assassinations, on the other hand, are one of the more enjoyable tasks. You have to eliminate, what feels like, the same stereotypical Nazi General, however there are usually multiple ways to get the job done. For example, waiting for the perfect moment to drop a gigantic chandelier on their cranium or simply slipping some poison into their food. For a few brief moments, it felt like I was playing a Hitman game. One target locks himself in a room as I’m leaving too much destruction in my path. I can’t get in but venture outside to notice a window slightly ajar. A very precise grenade throw later and I’m rewarded with a slow-motion killcam of him cowering under his bed, being blown into a thousand pieces.

Sniper Elite 5 adds a first-person perspective when you’re fully aiming down the scope of your pistol or machine gun. This allows for more precise shooting, which is useful when you’re trying to be sneaky. I did find it a little difficult to aim using a controller though as it seems like there’s no (or very little) aim-assist. I’d imagine this feature works best using a mouse on a PC. 

Taking inspiration from 2021’s Deathloop, Sniper Elite 5 has an Invasion mode, where you can jump into someone else’s campaign as an Axis soldier. Your job is to take out the other player before they get you in their crosshairs. Having a 1v1 with a mate that finishes in a slow-motion X-ray killcam is the perfect way to assert your gaming dominance. If a random sniper joins your game, it certainly ups the ante, too - a great addition to a formula that hasn’t changed much since its conception back in 2005. 

Sniper Elite 5 /

Executing a well thought out plan, while sniping so accurately that you should be awarded with a Victoria Cross, is when Sniper Elite 5 is at its best. During these sequences, the game is silly, simple and fun. Sadly, these moments are just too infrequent in the 12-hour campaign. Add to that some glitches, and it’s a frustrating experience at times.

For instance, in one mission, I found intel that suggested an important key was hidden in a safe that I knew the code for. After opening, I found the safe was empty, so I spent about another thirty minutes running around an underground Nazi facility, slowly losing my mind. After exerting every other possible solution, I ran out of the area and returned, hoping that this would make any key items spawn in again. Low and behold, the safe wasn’t empty anymore. I’m sure this will be quickly patched but it’s annoying regardless, especially as this particular mission has what seems like an endless wave of enemies.

In short, Sniper Elite 5 introduces some decent additions to the tried-and-tested formula and impressively improves on the X-ray killcams that the series is famous for. In spite of that, Sniper Elite needs an overhaul into next-gen to really keep the franchise alive in the future.

Pros: X-ray killcam is better than ever, Invasion mode.

Cons: Repetitive missions, lackluster story, clunky gameplay.

For Fans Of: Sniper Elite games, Call of Duty, Hitman.

6/10: Good

Sniper Elite 5 is out now for Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4 and PC (version tested on PlayStation 5). Review code was supplied by Rebellion. Find a guide to GAMINGbible’s review scores here.

Featured Image Credit: Rebellion Developments

Topics: PlayStation, PC