[REVIEW] Sniper Elite 5 – “Testes” my patience in France again

The Sniper Elite series has always had a certain charm. It was never the best sniper sim on the market, but the fact that after a well-aimed shot you could see slo-mo footage of a shattered testicle in every gruesome detail… well. That made up for a lot. The fact that Rebellion seems satisfied with just that becomes apparent in Sniper Elite 5: again an entertaining WW2 shooter that unfortunately is not equally accurate everywhere.

Anyway, where are we with Sniper Elite 5? In France, the land of unlimited cheeses and unconditional surrender. Karl Fairburne – the well-known sniper with the voice that for some reason always sounds a bit off – is summoned once more because the Allemands (that’s French for Germans) are setting up a project called Operation Kraken. We don’t know what it is, who is responsible for it, and how decisive this operation could be. Questions, questions…

But these are all questions that the French resistance wants answers to. And because the French aren’t particularly good at infiltrating German-occupied settlements (something about the overwhelming smell of Camembert, onions, and garlic), Karl can take a shot at it. So up we go, grab some iron, and good luck. Il est temps d’agir.

The further course can be guessed. As usual, you will be pointed to several locations and each of them is teeming with Krauts (with testicles). What you do with those Krauts (and their testicles) is up to you. You can blow a hole in them or you can let them be. Well, most of them then. Some just have to die. But for the rest, no one is instructing you how to achieve your goal in Sniper Elite 5. Left, right, conspicuous or subtle… anything goes. As long as you know that there is a damn thin line between subtle and conspicuous.

Because yes, staying unseen is quite a challenge in Sniper Elite 5. In any case, you are already royally “phoqued” if you have not spent enough time doing reconnaissance. Wanting to sneak in blindly while you only “sort of” know where who is, that’s just asking for trouble. And as soon as that scheiße hits the proverbial French fan, it’s hunting season. For everyone. That’s when chaos rules.

It’s this chaos and the never-ending risk of it that keeps Sniper Elite 5 fun. Because in all fairness, I must say that this fifth part doesn’t do much different from the previous ones. Rebellion has chosen a certain direction with Sniper Elite and remains steadfast in that course. That’s, of course, excellent news for anyone who can’t get enough of x-ray nut shots, but less exciting for people who had hoped for – let’s say – improved A.I.

Sniper Elite 5 screenshot

Because meine Liebe, that A.I. is all over the place. On the one hand, it is somewhat progressive. Once you’re spotted, there are instances of flanking and similar defense tactics. But this positive note often pales in comparison to the total nonsense generated by less-skilled Gefreiter. It’s almost textbook, but it remains childishly easy to lure a soldier toward an ever-growing pile of Nazi victims. And when they also run straight into your crosshair in a panic frenzy, well… then you clearly have a death wish.

The German Mannschaften also seem to have two kinds of individuals in terms of visual performance: those who have eagle-eyed 20/20 vision and those who are as blind as a bat. How many times I’ve been spotted by someone 500 meters away, dragging a cigarette butt… I don’t remember. But it’s less frequent than all those times where I’m right in front of someone’s nose, where even a slap on his Aryan blue peepers doesn’t set off any alarm bells. By the way, those alarms really suck. Destroy them ASAP. Otherwise, they will continue to go off every time someone bumps into the same lifeless body over and over.

And that voice acting… mon Dieu. There is also something to be said about that. As said before, I never really get convinced by Karl Fairburne’s way too deep voice, but how hard is it to find convincing Germans? Okay, at least Rebellion still takes the time to find more than one voice actor (something German TV doesn’t do), but why do they sound so… well… unnatural? And that French resistance, I won’t even get into that. You won’t win the war with them.

Sniper Elite 5 screenshot

Now, you must be thinking: Got im Himmel, you’re on a roll, aren’t you? And yes, I have not been the figurehead of positivity to date. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy my 12-hour campaign. As clumsy as Sniper Elite 5 remains, it still has that charm. Plus, it all looks exceptionally good (apart from some facial animations). The environments are all diverse and bulging with detail. I mean, everywhere you go, little fences and obstacles that you can’t seem to you jump over. Absolutely splendid!

But no, really, visually I have nothing but praise for Sniper Elite 5. And that’s a good thing, because if you go for the stealthy approach, you will have to stare at it for a long time. The fact that the x-ray kill cams once again show every sordid detail of your fatal shot is, of course, the icing on the torte. Especially when the victim is another player. Because yes, Sniper Elite 5 also has an invasion mode, if you feel like enabling it. It’s always nice to invade someone’s game and help “Der Schatten” to the Realm of Shadows purely going on the vigilance and keen eye of your men. In any case, it’s something different.

So, briefly, who is Sniper Elite 5 for? Answer: for Sniper Elite veterans who don’t mind a purely cosmetic improvement, or for those who just want to camp in 1944 France for once. If you don’t set your expectations too high and are satisfied with the pros and cons of previous Sniper Elite games, Sniper Elite 5 will certainly do well. If you had hoped for more progress besides the Axis Invasion Mode and Sniper Elite 4 was already “more of the same” for you, I would set my sights on something else.

Good, but not a crack shot
The Jawohls
Ruining Nazi testies never fails to amuse
Mostly impressive on the graphical front
Invasion Mode knows how to stir things up nicely
That post-detection chaos of war is oh so enthralling...
The Neins
Doesn't really do much different compared to previous installments
The A.I. is both hilarious and depressing
Voice acting is far from convincing
...but that same chaos often comes out of the blue