I apologize to the Rebellion developers who I spoke to during my scheduled demo of Sniper Elite 4. I raised my hand when you asked if any of us had played Sniper Elite, and while I have gone through missions and experienced the joy of Sniper Elite's signature kill animations, I don't think I've ever played the game as you originally intended. Nor do I think I ever will, since you guys had to eventually point out where the binoculars were and explain the game's tagging system. Despite this, the situation is fine by me. Whether you're in it for stealth-based sniping or visceral death animations, Sniper Elite 4 seems like another solid step forward for the franchise.
My demo started me at a great vantage point, and I spent the first few minutes lining up shots and experimenting with my abilities. Of course, since I was firing on soldiers without any planning beforehand, I was almost immediately bombarded with a storm of bullets and foes flanking me from either side. After a few deaths, I decided to start moving in and headed to my left. That life was also short, as I stumbled into the path of a tank that struck me down in seconds. Instead of offering me any comfort, the developer only insisted on assuring me that the beast that took me down was merely an armored car, and tanks would be even more devastating in the full game.
Heading the other way from the spawn led to a smaller area, and this village was the first time in my history with the series that I felt that I was playing the game correctly. I set traps, I tagged enemies, and I focused in for amazing headshots. One of my bullets charged through an opposing sniper's scope and straight into his eyeball, and it was glorious. The entire game looks just as good as Sniper Elite 3 if not better, and you need that level of graphical fidelity if your selling point is a cavalcade of x-ray murder.
After picking off stragglers, waiting for the guard to stop looking for me, and even utilizing my pistol on a few occasions, I ended up trapped on the second story of a building. I set a tripwire and picked off survivors, all while hoping that my one pursuer would trip the explosive I had left for him. He did, and suddenly I keeled over as well, and I cracked up laughing. The developer assured me that this was an alpha bug, but I didn't mind that much, and the rest of the experience was so polished that I have no doubt that it will be swept under the rug before launch.
Like I said, I'm a fan of Sniper Elite's style more than its substance, and this game continues to deliver on that. I was a little bummed that I couldn't go up against my fellow reporters in deathmatch since Sniper Elite has some of the most unique online multiplayer around, but I enjoyed what I played and now look forward to seeing more later this year on current-gen consoles and PC. I can assure you that if you're in it for the same ridiculous reasons that I am, you won't be left disappointed.
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