Sniper Elite 4 Switch Review: Excellent Stealth Combat

by David Sanchez November 17, 2020 @ 8:10 am

Sniper Elite 4 Nintendo Switch.

Sniper Elite 4 has been around for a bit — since 2017, to be exact. As such, you might be wondering why it’s just now been ported to Nintendo Switch. Well, it’s obvious developer Rebellion truly wanted to make sure its tactical stealth shooter was as close to perfect as possible on Nintendo’s console. And you know what? Sniper Elite 4 is exactly that.

Picturesque WWII-Era Italy

Set in 1943 Italy, Sniper Elite 4 follows the exploits of SOE sniper Karl Fairburne. Tasked with eliminating the Nazi threat in Italy, it isn’t long before Fairburne is roped into a handful of twists and turns that include a few interesting NPCs. The setup here is solid enough, and though it doesn’t quite get too deep, it’s also not intrusive. The game does an excellent job of focusing on what matters: intense stealth-based shooting.

Sniper Elite 4 shooting mechanics.

In Sniper Elite 4 you won’t be rushing into rooms full of Nazi soldiers and unloading entire clips every 10 seconds. You’ll do that sometimes, but definitely not most of the time. If you’ve played any of the Sniper Elite games in the past, you’re aware that their combat is much more methodical. The pacing of the game is tactical, requiring you to find a good vantage point with adequate cover. From there you’ll survey multiple locations that are quite sizable as you wait for targets to appear so you can mark them and pick them off one by one.

If it sounds like Sniper Elite 4 requires you to take a sit-and-wait approach, that’s because it does — but that’s exactly what makes the game so intense and exciting. You’ll be chilling at the top of a tower, tasked with eliminating soldiers and generals, but there’s a lot to take into account before you can just start popping off loud sniper shots. You can swap out your ammo for suppressed ammo so it doesn’t alert enemy soldiers. Or you can wait for a loud environmental noise to mask the sound of your shots.

If you’re not stealthy, enemies will be aware of your presence. They won’t instantly know where you are, but they’ll start trying to figure it out. If you’re spotted, it’s in your best interest to relocate so you’re not forced to deal with multiple bad guys at once.

Sniper Elite 4 enemy encounters.

You’ll need to employ this same level of sneakiness when you’re infiltrating enemy camps, too. As previously mentioned, the areas in Sniper Elite 4 are huge, so you’re never relegated to a single spot. Instead, you’re often moving into different camps to take out more groups of enemies. If you’re too loud or too out in the open, you’ll instantly see bullets flying your way — yeah, not good. You’ll have to crouch and crawl, find cover in shrubbery, and perform stealth melee kills to position yourself in a good spot.

Breathe In, Breathe Out, Breathe In, Breathe Out

Positioning is key to your success in Sniper Elite 4. That aside, you’ll also have to pay attention to factors you normally wouldn’t in a regular shooter. For example, this game takes into greater account bullet drop and trajectory, so you can’t just pull out your rifle, aim, and fire. You’ll have to wait until an enemy is at just the right spot — you don’t want to risk taking a shot at a general that’s moving around too much or standing behind a wall or awkward-shaped tree.

When you’re aiming, you’ll see an indicator to empty your lungs. If you’ve got a shot lined up, doing so will give you a more accurate reticle, which will change from orange to red to indicate a fatal shot. I can’t count the number of times I found myself holding my breath while playing, only to exhale just before taking a shot. Sniper Elite 4 is that intense.

Sniper Elite 4 gameplay.

When you have no choice but to engage in traditional shootouts — typically because you alerted surrounding enemies — you’ll rely on pistols and Tommy guns to dispose of soldiers. This gunplay isn’t as smooth or accurate as the sniping, but it’s not supposed to be. It forces you to go into cover and take shots when you can versus just going into the battlefield guns blazing like an action movie hero. If you find yourself not really enjoying the standard shooting, that’s kind of the point, because as a sniper, you’re supposed to avoid those encounters as much as possible.

The campaign in Sniper Elite 4 can take about 12 to 14 hours to play through, but if you’re playing highly strategically, that number will increase quite exponentially. Each map has main objectives as well as side missions to keep you busy. In addition, you can play the campaign in local and online co-op. Add to that competitive multiplayer, plus the DLC from the PS4, Xbox One, and PC versions of the game, and you’ll be pretty busy sniping Nazi fools for a good while.

Sniper Elite 4 Hits All the Targets on Switch

The reason Sniper Elite 4 works so incredibly well on Switch is because it retains everything that made it so good on other platforms. There’s never any hitch in performance, which is great because that would be pretty bad in a game where you need to line up perfect shots pretty much every single time.

Sniper Elite 4 environments.

Smooth performance aside, the Switch version of Sniper Elite 4 looks great, too. The large environments are highly detailed. Environmental lighting is spectacular. And those X-ray kill cam shots. You’ll never get tired of those because every time, you’ll notice something different. Maybe you’ll see — in great detail, mind you — one of your shots go through an enemy’s eye. Or perhaps you’ll see your bullet rupture a kidney. Not to mention, it’s always fun seeing how bones shatter in different ways when your shot goes through a Nazi soldier’s jaw or cheekbone.

Sniper Elite 4 on Nintendo Switch is a massive success in terms of gameplay, performance, and graphics. It offers everything that’s made the series so much fun without sacrificing any aspect of it in this port. The game plays as good as it looks, and it’s an absolute blast.

Score: 9 out of 10

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