As the year is coming to a close and people have just started to come out of the Uncharted 2 – Assassins Creed 2 haze, some might have overlooked this very interesting piece of EA originality. The Saboteur, Pandemic Studio's last contribution to the gaming world, sets in the World War II era as you take the role of Sean Devlin, a mechanic turned racecar driver. Noticing World War 2 written you might be misled in to believing that this might be some sort of an FPS with old wailing guns killing everyone in sight but that’s not the case in The Saboteur. You will find topless girls, raging drunken Nazis and more than a few stereotype characters along your journey. The characters are likable but sometimes come off as trying a tad too hard to make you feel emotional.
It is an open world game with an artistic yet functional approach. You will observe this throughout the game with the change in environment and camera filter’s. The detail is appreciable and you will find the city well crafted. The environment matches the setting, the buildings all look like they should, the country side is full of vibrant colors and the Eiffel tower has been left intact so you can take in the magnificence.
As with most open world game you can run in an uncanny fashion to the nearest checkpoint, jump from building to building or hijack a car from French dudes. The controls in a car are a bit too arcade-ish, not something you would particularly look for in the game. Wall scaling is pretty neat as well but as Sean is a tough guy who doesn’t hang for dear life as most of us would so you might find your face in dirt if you attempt to just walk off a ledge. Don’t expect to find Assassins Creed type fluid controls instead you are greeted with more human type response from Sean. As pandemic also created mercenaries, the people familiar will find a hint of the same spice in the controls. The variety of weapons is nothing to gloat about but this game is not about that. As a lone hero and as the title suggest, it tries to show that the most efficient way to accomplish missions is through Sabotage. Unfortunately after some missions the stealth system of the game starts to show it flaws and one would wonder that if Pandemic polished it a bit, we would’ve been chewing our nails in anticipation of the sequel. The combat system, I am afraid to say is a bit dodgy and the AI of the enemy feels weak. On the other hand we are exceptionally good with explosions and causing mayhem with TNT. Planting explosions while disguised as NAZI soldier and then watching the fireworks is a fruitful endeavor. The game never takes itself too seriously even though the environment selected is pretty dire. Regenerating health is nearly as fast as breathing in air (doctors could take prescription from Sean), which makes us kind of feel like a “Bollywood” hero. The trademark of a good Sandbox game has been how it pivots itself from either being too story oriented or too open world freedom and Saboteur has stuck a very nice balance in this regard. The story goes hand in hand with exploration, sometimes the missions lie within a few streets while sometimes you have to drive outside mainstream Paris to get the mission rolling.
The story starts with us sitting in a topless bar, drinking and mourning over our dead friend. Then a flashback takes us a couple of week earlier where are cheated off an important race in our life by Germans. As we are a thick headed Irish man we vow to take revenge by biting off heads (not literally…though it would've looked funny). We are offered to join a local resistance against Germans invading Paris; we willfully join them (we are half drunk as well, so it seemed like a good idea). We are given a good mixture of missions and we can decide them on different ways to tackle them. If sneaking up is not your thing you can always blast your way through. After the Nazi's become suspicious of your presence you will be given a GTA-type radius which you will have to clear out of to make the Nazi's forget about the recent present you sent them. As the story progresses so does the resistance you joined, with every cut scene more and more dire news is fed to our character and the burning desire of revenge against the Germans increases. The story is quiet fast paced and involving but sometimes the game looks foolish when trying to make tasteless jokes when the situation according to the story is not appropriate.
As with any recent sand-box game Saboteur is littered with side missions and things for you to from racing to shooting snipers to destroying Nazi vehicles. As the game progresses you free the areas of Paris from Nazis they become full of color from the old grey mist, this aspect is brilliantly used and feels very original. When a certain area will be under oppression of Nazis it will look dark and grey tint will be used except when you see blood or solider and the same goes with cut scenes. Things associated with violence e.g. Gunshots, explosions, blood, etc are associated with sharp vibrant colors. There is a well implemented reward system in the game which keeps it from being repetitive. A certain amount of kills from a sniper will enhance your ability to snipe, you can also unlock guns and if you steal a certain number of cars you will recieve your very own getaway car (What more can a guy spreading chaos want!).
Overall Saboteur is a quality game as Pandemic Studio takes a bow. The game delivers on a lot of fronts but just skips off from being one of the great one. Only a minor issues jumping out frequently will bug you otherwise it will keep you very happy through its 10 hour-ish story line but I truly believe if this game was released at a later date and polished in the time being, it would’ve been an huge hit and one of few to be remembered.