From the people who brought you games like Mercenaries and Star Wars Battlefront, comes the Saboteur, Pandemic Studio’s last hurrah, as the studio no longer exists.
The Saboteur is an open world sandbox game set in World War 2. It boasts a unique colour scheme and main character. Players are thrust into the role of Sean Devlin, a hard drinking womanizing Irishman who has decided to become a professional race car driver in Paris. His main opponent on the track is a Nazi named Kurt Dierker who is stuck up, pompous and an all around pain in the ass. Especially, after he shoots out Sean’s tire in a big race and takes the lead.
What turns into a bit of payback against Dierker, becomes much more serious as Sean sees Dierker’s true colours as a Nazi leader. The game quickly changes in scope when the Nazis decide that it’s time to invade France. Now, as Sean, you go about finding what allies you can, ranging from rebels to British agents and Black Market dealers, all in an effort to seek revenge.
The Saboteur is quite a big playground; you can go about blowing up just about anything you want as long as it’s Nazi related. This covers a wide range of things from buildings, to hot air balloons, emplaced guns, tanks and so much more. When you blow up these things, you gain contraband, the games currency which you can then use to buy your weapons or even recruit some extra help.
The combat is rather relaxed and more reminiscent of older arcade style shooters. Sean can take a fair amount of damage before being killed. Even then, some cover and a few breaths later and health regeneration kicks in. This type of one man army resilience renders the cover system essentially useless. You do have the ability to play the game in a very stealth oriented way; sneaking around and using disguises. It can prove useful if you want to use a uniform to sneak into a well guarded facility to get to the right spot. However, it is not all that well balanced and special units can see through your disguise.
Also, the indicator that lets players know when they’ve been sighted or are doing something suspicious (such as climbing) fills up way too quickly. It is much easier to just go about running and gunning and blasting your way through any opposition. Sean is also quite adept at climbing, which works rather well and you can use this skill to maneuver yourself into a better position. It allows you to scope out the area before going in, pick out points where you want to blow up or if you’re lucky an anti air craft gun might be on the roof to make short work of anything that you can angle into its line of fire.
Paris is filled with things of the Nazis just begging to be destroyed with some TNT. Not only does this get you money, but it also provides a lot of extra fun even long after you’ve spent over twelve hours playing through the main quest. Aside from blowing things up, there are also cars to collect, challenges to do which unlock in- game skills, races, vantage points as well as several mini games.
With the purchase of the game, there is a slip that unlocks an addition to the Burlesque Venue where Sean hangs out. This basically translates into some small mini games and a whole lot of enjoyable women and music.
Speaking of music, throughout the game the sound is done quite well. Whether it’s the purr of the race car sitting on the start lining waiting to be unleashed, the resulting roar accompanying the checkered flag or the music that plays in the background – it all works to immerse you into the game’s setting. The dialogue is also very well done and equally engaging, as well as funny. This is the first Irish main character I’ve come across in my years of video gaming and the Irish insults that Sean throws out, the witty comments and the back and forth banter between him and others, was funny and refreshing.
Another unique part of this game is the visual style. When you encounter an occupied zone, everything is in black and white with some exceptions. The yellow glow of a street light, the bright blue of the Resistance and the blood red of the Nazis, shine though. As Sean liberates sections of the city, colour returns. The colours in a non liberated zone also make it quite easy to tell friend from foe. The mini map, as well as the big map, does a great job of pointing out where things are that you can blow up and the colour scheme enhances that, allowing you to differentiate Nazis (red) from Resistance (blue).
I was somewhat disappointed though when I did go about liberating Paris, as I missed the old black and white feel. The colour scheme is not just for aesthetics though. For example, if you are trying to get away from the Nazis, a zone in colour means less support for the Nazis and easier to get away, as well as fight-back zones situated throughout, whereas a black and white zone means much more pressure.
Overall, the Saboteur is a fun, engaging way to spend your time with plenty to do with a unique main character, setting and atmosphere. It does have its flaws; borrowing from many and not perfecting some elements (such as stealth) however, it is fun none the less.
-Lots to do and blow up
-Unique Visual Style and Characters
Recommendation: Buy it!