Put on your best Irish accent and prepare to journey into Nazi occupied Paris.
The Saboteur is available on PS3, Xbox360 and PC. It is published by EA and developed by the now disbanded Pandemic Studios.
Welcome to the world of Sean Devlin, Irish mechanic turned race driver, turned man out for revenge. He wants revenge on the Nazis and, fortunately for him, he lives in the backroom of a Parisian strip club, in the middle of Nazi occupied Paris during WWII. At least they have made it easy for him.
I won’t spoil the story for you, as the events that lead up to our reluctant heroes beef with the Nazis are part of the game and actually make for a good bit of storytelling. But needless to say, Sean has his reasons to want the Nazis out of Paris, and indeed, out of his life. But we also want the Nazis out of Paris, because they seem to be having a strange effect on the city. Everywhere that the Nazis are in control,the colour has drained from the world. Like a French version of Sin City, everything is coloured in greys and blacks, with the exception of the bright red of the Nazi flags and the blue markers of the resistance. As Sean reduces the Nazi hold over areas of the city, colour will return and the French residents will rise up against the oppression, to the best of their ability.
And so, Seans current mission in life is to, inadvertently, bring colour back to Paris. It doesn’t seem like a goal that our chain smoking, whiskey swilling, potty mouthed hero would aspire to. He seems more suited to hanging out in the bar, watching the ladies and their animated tassels. Either way, he is our man for the job.
The Saboteur is a massive open world game, with some interesting ideas. The player can follow through the main story or take off into the city and indulge in some side missions and fun. Being called “The Saboteur”, you may be surprised to find out that the main method of dealing with the Nazis is through sabotage, mostly with dynamite. From the initial fuel depot through all manner of other Nazi held objectives, there are lots of things to blow up. To aid Sean in this endeavor, stealth is your friend. The idea is that you will be able to sneak in and out of objectives, using a combination of climbing buildings, disguise and outright sneakiness. A suspicion meter is there to help you remain “in the shadows” and, as surrounding adversaries become more aware of our hero, the meter will fill and warn of impending discovery. Should the meter fill to the top, then expect all hell to rain down, and get ready for fight or flight. To be honest, sneaking around is not easy and the Nazis seem to be a highly suspicious lot, as more often than not I ended up having to fight my way out of various situations.
Climbing buildings is a lot of fun, but a slightly pointless endeavor for the most part, as any passers by will comment on the bizarreness of seeing a well dressed Irish brawler scaling buildings. This makes it very difficult to stay incognito. Also, given the recent release of Assassin’s Creed 2, Saboteurs climbing mechanics seem clumsy and haphazard. Which brings me neatly to how the game is played.
Sean is as handy with his fists as he is with the ladies. As such, there are not many situations that he cannot punch his way out of. However, there will come times when Sean will have to rely on more conventional methods of dispatching his enemies. The various guns that can be used in the game are adequate, but the actual gunfights themselves are somewhat lacklustre. It is possible to hide behind cover, but that doesn’t work as well as it should. And the shooting itself feels lacking and unimpressive. The same could actually be said for the driving. The vehicles just don’t handle as well as they should. Maybe this was part of the plan, so as to depict the way vehicles drive during WWII, but it does take the fun out of driving the streets of Paris during Nazi occupation.
The games graphics are good, but not as good as perhaps gamers would expect from current games. The artistic style of the game goes a long way to make up for the lacking graphics. I am sure that it is not to everyone’s taste, but I personally found the style to be one of the high points. The game packs a soundtrack of tunes that would happily be at home in Paris during WWII. The tunes go a long way towards building the atmosphere in the city of love. The voice acting through the game is, at times, hilariously bad. This is not down to the actors, but rather the script. This doesn’t however, take anything away from the game. In fact, it adds some sly humour to the proceedings and, once you get over the terrible lines, it is actually quite fun.
As mentioned before, our hero Sean has a slight attack of the potty mouth for the duration of the game. Add to that the scantily clad ladies with twirly bits and you can understand that this is not a game to be played in front of the children. As if to emphasise this fact, with each retail copy of the game, there will be included a code to download the games first DLC, Midnight Show. This DLC adds a few extra features, such as more available hiding places. But the most interesting feature of this DLC, and the most talked about, is the exposure of the dancers wobbly bits. Former scant coverings are removed and all manner of jubblies are allowed be free. Whilst this adds nothing to the game, it certainly has made a good talking point and will, no doubt, encourage some players to buy the game new instead of pre-owned.
Overall, The Saboteur is not a bad game, it just fails to measure up against the games that have obviously influenced it. It is a worthwhile romp, but may not hold the attention for long.