The Saboteur Review
For years sandbox games have tried their hardest to differentiate themselves from each other. EA and Pandemic’s The Saboteur looks to do just that. The game takes place in World War II era occupied France and puts you in the shoes of Irishman Sean Devlin. The game’s character is loosely based on the real life race car driver turned saboteur William Grover William’s. And when I say loosely, I mean loosely. The only thing the two have in common is the fact that they both race cars and were part of a resistance in France. That is unless Williams could absorb mass amounts of bullets and still live to tell the tale.
Although this game is a brand new sandbox game in today’s world filled with them, can it climb out of the rut of mediocre sandbox titles such as Mercenaries 2 and climb onto a higher podium?
Let’s take a look at the HOTs and NOTs of this title.
In terms of story, this game gives you a fresh look at World War II. Everybody knows the Call of Duty and Medal of Honor stories that take place on the battlefields that are famous in the war, but how many stories have been told about the time that France was occupied by the Nazi’s. And although this game is not an exact shot by shot of the occupation, it does give you some insight into what things were like during that time. It also shows you the setting through the eyes of someone who isn’t a battle hardewned trained soldier of destruction.
The Saboteur follows race car driver Sean Devlin, an Irishman who, after the death of his best friend, seeks revenge against the Nazi general that killed his friend. As soon as he gets to France he is recruited into the French Resistance and helps them liberate their country while going on his quest for vengeance.
Gameplay wise, this game is solid. From free running, to combat, all the way to the atmosphere, this game has it nailed down. Sean can freely climb any building he wants to climb. And seeing that the game takes place in France, you can even scale the Eiffel Tower all the way to the very top. This makes it great for those of you who want to find some high ground to either escape or find a higher perch to survey your enviroment and plan an attack on a Nazi installation.
Combat in The Saboteur is also entertaining. Whether it be the stealth element or just running in and gunning down every Nazi in a base or area. There is nothing more satisfying than sneaking right past a Nazi patrol and planting explosives on your target then gunning your way out. Or you could even continue the stealthy way and sneak back out. The choice is yours in this game. And if you choose to take the Rambo way and gun every breathing Nazi down, the combat system will fit right in with anyone used to third person shooters. Theres even an auto cover system that kicks in should you be near a building or object to take cover behind.
This game may not have graphics on par with Uncharted 2 or Killzone 2, but they are well done and even throw in one unique element that sets it apart from the rest. As soon as you start up the game you will notice that everything is black and white. This feature is labeled as the will to fight in the game. If an area is black and white, the people in that occupied area will be pushed around by the Nazi’s and won’t help Sean if he’s under attack. You’ll also notice that the area is very desolate and rainy. Once you liberate that area however, the people will fight back the Nazi captors and be more active in helping Sean and the area becomes vibrant and bright with the sun shining down.
One of the most eye catching things in this game is the addition of color in the black and white areas. It’s on par with Sin City in the sense that the primary colors (red, blue, and yellow) will pop out at you. The red helps you identify Nazi soldiers and vehicles, blue shows you resistance members and friendlies, while yellow gives you cluse as to quick ways to scale a building for escape or free running. As the game progresses you will be unsure of which color scheme you like. Both are beautiful in their own sense and have alot to offere in the way of eye candy.
Some Broken Stealth Elements
Although it is very satisfying to pull of a mission quietly, there are some elements that can be frustrating. One of these is the disguise element. Should you choose to take a disguise, you gain a suspicion ring. This ring increases if you do anything but walk or just carry a gun. That means no running, no shooting, and no climbing. If you do any of these things in the presence of soldiers your suspicion meter will go up. If it fills all the way up a Nazi will blow the whistle, the alarm will raise and you’ll have a fight on your hands.
In all, The Saboteur is a fresh take on a beaten horse setting. It gives you a new take on a new perspective during one of the most widely known wars in history. And although it has a few short comings, it is definitely worth the purchase should you ever want a Sandbox title that actually gives you a good deal of freedom. And if you need more convincing: The main character is an Irishman on the rampage blowing stuff up! Can’t get much better than that.[Editor's Note: The Saboteur was reviewed on a Xbox 360 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher]