But the Sniper guts are still there
For whatever reason — perhaps through no fault of its own — I can’t help but see the workings of other games when I look at Sniper Elite. Rube Goldberg-lite environmental executions remind me of Hitman. Third-person stealth melee killing and subsequent corpse carrying smell of Assassin’s Creed. Even the stylish kill cam X-ray cinematically destroying an enemy’s insides feel like Mortal Kombat X, even though I’m fully aware it was Sniper‘s schitck first.
After spending some hands-off time with the newly-announced Sniper Elite 4 this week at GDC, those parallels are still very much present in this next game — with a few more Assassin’s Creed components added to the mix. Since the events of Sniper Elite 3, protagonist Karl Fairburne has learned how to climb and whistle. Those skills are useful for luring a guard over to a ledge and murdering him in the exact same manner as Ubisoft has had us doing for almost a decade now.
While that enhancement is tough to get excited about, Sniper Elite enthusiasts will be pleased to know this entry has some other significant improvements. What’s likely the biggest one is that the locales are much larger in scale. Rebellion creative lead Tim Jones tells us that developing solely for current generation systems has prevented the developer from being hamstrung by the limitations of legacy consoles.
We were shown two maps in the half hour we spent with Sniper Elite 4. The main one was an Italian coast town. The other was a forest with a stream cutting through it. (The whole game takes place in Italy in 1943, by the way.) Jones commented that the coastal village was one of the smallest maps, but still three to four times larger than anything in the previous game. The ocean views and European architecture make for a quaint setting for all the murdering.
Then we shot an explosive crate with a toolbox on top of it, and a wrench got stuck in a dude’s skull.
Despite the straight-faced additions to Sniper Elite 4, this is still a series that is kind of entrenched in the ridiculous. It’s a series that, if you so wish, can be entirely about shooting guys in the dick. It’s a series that has killed Hitler multiple times, and probably will do it again. I suggested maybe killing baby Hitler this time, but I don’t think Rebellion’s going to take me up on it. Its loss.
At one point, Jones shot a ledge out from under a soldier, causing him to plummet to his death. But, instead of falling normally, he inexplicably and wildly toppled end-over-end. Jones abstained from a requested dick-shooting so the ragdolling was an okay consolation. I stifled a laugh, but the visual inanity felt sort of thematically appropriate — even if it was probably just a preview build bug. It was a good reminder that no matter how seriously Rebellion wants to present its game, the player’s going to find comfort and solace in the absurd.