The Saboteur

The Saboteur
The Saboteur Cover
Platforms Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows
Genre Nazi stomping sandbox adventure
MtAMinutes to Action 8
Keep Playing? Yes
Buy from Amazon

A few months ago I reviewed the first hour of Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction.  I enjoyed it, but had issues with the controls which really hampered my experience.  Fast forward to... now, and I'm about to tackle Pandemic Studio's final game, The Saboteur.  It's disappointing when a studio is closed down, and definitely scary considering EA bought them out at the same time as they did BioWare (can you imagine EA shutting them down?).  While I never really played any of Pandemic's games, the Mercenaries and Destroy All Humans series were always popular, sad to see them go.

Anyways, the game!  You came here for some World War II open world action set in Paris, right?  Well, this is what you're going to get.  The Saboteur was released late last year on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Windows, and has you killing lots and lots of Nazis.  Everyone hates Nazis, and The Saboteur features a ton of different ways to execute that hate into physical violence.

There's more to this game than just beating up baddies, but a city to save by raising their morale and will to fight.  If you're looking for a World War II game that isn't a derivative first person shooter, well this might be it.  Let's get into the first hour of The Saboteur.

Minute by Minute

(minutes are in bold)
00 - I select New Game and the first hour of The Saboteur begins.  The game immediately prompts me that the Midnight Show DLC was not detected and I can enter its code now.  The Midnight Show includes nudity, a VIP room, and new hiding spots.  What an odd way to start a game. Well, since I'm borrowing the game I'm assuming the code has already been used (and abused) so I'll skip it.  Loading... The opening credits begin to roll as a burlesque dancer appears and does her thing.  She's quite naked except for a small bikini bottom and some things that cover her nipples.

01 - I suppose if I had the Midnight Show I could toggle those off! Some Nazi soldiers are enjoying the show while our main man is handing in a corner.  A man approaches looking for a drinking partner.

02 - The man has been keeping an eye on me and knows I hate the Nazis (he hates the Nazis like he hates Duke basketball).  Sean says that France isn't his country and won't fight, but Luc passionately argues that he fight.  He asks me to meet him in a nearby courtyard.

04 - The prologue begins and get I get control.  A woman is singing on stage and the soldiers are getting a real kick out of it, I feel quite immeresed, I will admit.  I head outside to meet Luc.

Saboteur Sean Devlin luc Burlesque Club

05 - A black and white world appears in front of me, as well as Luc.  He asks me to blow up a full depot full of oil.  Sean seems more than ready now to start the fire.  I jump in Luc's vehicle and drive around, following the car's WWII era GPS.

07 - The world is a bit creepy, all black and white with just some yellow windows and red armbands.  Effective though.

08 - We arrive at the supply cache, but before we go inside, we get in a fight with some evil Nazis.  I have a hard time reading the directions though and it takes me a while to realize you have to hold the L trigger to stay in brawl mode.

10 - Luc explains restricted areas, just don't get caught in them.  First I need to take out the lookout hanging out on the top of the nearby building.

12 - I toss him off the roof, and then jump off myself to take out the other guards Luc is scuffling with.  Time to take out that fuel depot!

13 - I almost hit some Nazis while driving and my provoke meter goes up, gotta keep and eye on that.

Saboteur Sean Devlin Burlesque Club

14 - Luc explains the plan: he'll blow up a vehicle to distract them and I'll zipline into the depot under cover, then plant some dynamite on the main tank.

17 - Haha, things go as planned as the place goes up in a fiery explosion. But now I'm surrounded by Nazis and need to escape!  I think I was supposed to drive the car out of there, but instead I just run away.

18 - Well, I've escaped the evil red Nazi circle, but now I've got to go back and get the car!  Oh wait! The world is in color now!

19 - I'm supposed to pick up Luc but I can't find him! What?! I failed the mission because I abandoned him?  Now I gotta retry it all? This is lame.

23 - It's happening again! Where's Luc?! Where's the Frenchman?!

24 - Oh, finally, there he is.  I ended up running him over but he lived.  The world is color again, and it's back to the bar for me.  Sean has got some secret hideout in the back.

Saboteur Sean Devlin Nazi Explosion

26 - Three months earlier... Sean is shown working on some blue racecar when his friend Jules approaches.  Sean is a drive now, not a mechanic.  Veronique takes Sean and Jules' picture that Sean was handling in the first few minutes.  I'm guessing Jules is dead.

28 - More prologue as I regain control in the past.  I'm driving the truck carrying the Aurora, the blue racecar he was tooling on earlier.

30 - Evidently, this is before the war broke out as Jules and Sean are just looking to becoming famous and meet some women.

31 - We make it to the border and the truck is quickly searched and then we're allowed into Germany.

33 - We arrive at our destination and finally, the game tells me how to run (click the left stick).  Jules was telling me about his sister on the way here, she was raised in that cabaret bar.  We're meeting with Jules and Veronique's dad in the local pub.  He's the racing boss of our crew.

35 - The evil German racer appears and taunts the boss and Veronique.  Jules, being a bit of a hot head starts a fight, which of course, draws me back into the game.

37 - I take out the six baddies, but the Police are on their way!  A hot blonde named Skylar shows up in a red hotrod and let's us get in.  There seems to be a history between him and Skylar.

Saboteur Sean Devlin Nazi Dead

40 - We escape the clutches of the Nazis, and Sean and Skylar are off to their night cap.  The game cuts to the hotel room with them sharing a drink, definitely a history between the two.

41 - Achievement unlocked: Pint and a Shag.

42 - Morning now, and we're off to the track minus the dame.  I jack a Nazi truck to quicken the pace, and after a bit of a chase, we arrive in time for the race.

44 - Sean moves to the starting blocks... and we're off!

47 - After the first of three laps, I'm in fifth place of 16!

48 - No idea where the leaders are though, they're really far ahead.  I fly off a ramp and pick up a First Blood achievement.

51 - Haha! Second place and closing in on that Nazi bastard in first.  This is a long race!

Saboteur Sean Devlin Race car

52 - I take the lead and a cutscene takes over! The German shoots my tire out and Sean swears really loudly!  The race is over and the boss has to hold me back from beating him down.

53 - The team is discussing ways to sabotage the winner's car, the boys are ready to cause some trouble when Veronique and Skylar begin arguing, and then turn it on Sean.  They warn him that the German is dangerous, but the guys don't buy it.

55 - The Paranoia meter appears signifying we're tailing him. What are we up to?

57 - We all arrive at some German motorworks headquarters, but it's up to us to break in.  We scale a wall and find the winner's car just sitting there all alone... Sean is going to send it over the cliff! Awesome!

58 - Haha! I bail out too late and roll off the cliff with the car.  The game informs me I failed to "only launch Dierker's car off the cliff."

59 - Wow, that time I rolled right to the edge, that was epic.  This isn't good, Sean and Jules have gotten themselves captured by the Nazis!  We're in some kind of creepy place, starring the Nazi driver.  Jules is really beat up and Dierker thinks I'm a British agent.

60 - Sean vehemently denies it and Dierker kills Jules with a flurry of bullets to the brain, and the world goes black and white.   That's the end of the first hour of Saboteur.

Saboteur Sean Devlin Shooting Nazis

First Hour Summary

Minutes to Action: 8

What I loved: This is an extremely fun and varied first hour, Saboteur manages to cover a lot of ground introducing major gameplay mechanics while creating the structure for an intriguing story.  The main character is likable too as a foul-mouthed Irish race car driver, and I love the black and white to color effect the game uses as you free more Paris territories.

I really felt immersed in the game while playing too, The Saboteur has a ton of atmosphere and delivered it in the right doses during its first hour.

What I didn't like: It seems that every open world game uses slightly different control schemes to do everything.  Much like Grand Theft Auto IV, The Saboteur makes some weird decisions that leave me wondering "WTF" at intense moments when muscle memory becomes most important.  I'm really afraid the control scheme is going to inhibit a lot of potential fun The Saboteur has to offer.

Gameplay: Seems to be plagued with the typical open-world issues, but I'm sure I'll get used to the controls after a bit (and then have to adjust with the next open world game...).

Fun Factor: This is a riotous first hour with huge explosions, lots of women, and fast cars; I don't think I've ever played anything like it before!  It also ends very well and leaves me hanging, perfect timing!

Graphics and Sound: The game looks great but the artistic style behind the black and white to color conversion is just too cool

Story: Honestly, I'm hooked.  When you first start playing, it's difficult to understand why Sean would be so eager to blow stuff up, but after the flashback, it all starts to make sense.

Would I keep playing? Yes, I want to see where The Saboteur is going. Finally, a World War II game that actually has a unique and interesting plot.