|Platforms||Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows
|Genre||Great WWII sandbox action|
|Buy from Amazon|
I don’t think I’ve ever played a game and honestly felt sad that the developer was no longer around, but that’s exactly what happened after I beat Pandemic Studios’ swan song, The Saboteur. I had an honestly great time with a flawed game, which is the opposite experience I’ve had with similar games in the genre.
The Saboteur is pretty much the quintessential First Hour game: I played the first hour of the game a few months back, loved it, but had to send it back to my brother-in-law. A few months later I had the opportunity to borrow it again and jumped at the chance. When I said I wanted to keep playing, I really did.
Without much further ado, The Saboteur was released on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Windows, and while the game seems to hint at future sequels, with the studio closing it is doubtful those will ever appear. But you never know, I’m assuming EA owns the license to the game and characters so they might trudge up good old Sean Devlin again someday.
My full review is on the Xbox 360 version.
What I loved: The Saboteur is the kind of game I’ve been wanting to play for a while, a city sandbox game that was actually fun to play. I couldn’t play more than a few hours of Grand Theft Auto IV because of its super realistic driving and unforgiving gun combat. The Saboteur essentially fixed everything I felt was wrong with the latest Grand Theft Auto and puts it in a great World War II package.
Yes, World War II, the genre everyone was sick of after Infinity Ward announced Modern Warfare a few years ago. It seemed like no one wanted to touch the time period anymore, for better or worse. In retrospect, the big problem just seemed to be 3son shooters set during the war, because The Saboteur handled the 1940’s marvelously. The graphical style of the game allows Paris to be both imposing and vibrant at the same time, and the vehicles, music, and mannerisms are all perfect for the time period.
Back to the gameplay, I really don’t like realistic driving in video games, I get enough of that in real life, so being able to slam on the handbrake and fly around any corner of Paris is my cup of tea. It’s all very reminiscent of Grand Theft Auto III, where anything was possible on the roads in basically any car, I love that feeling of having actual control on the road in a game.
Along with vehicle control, The Saboteur adopts the Gears of War, Modern Warfare health recover system where if you go back into cover you’ll go from near death to rockin’ out in just a few seconds. While unrealistic in every sense, everything else just doesn’t seem fun anymore. This makes firefights much more casual because you’re not always worried about how many health points out of one hundred are left (another place where Grand Theft Auto IV went way wrong, in my opinion).
I also enjoyed the game’s art style. The people and animations were almost caricatures of what I might have expected, it’s subtle but The Saboteur isn’t trying to take itself perfectly serious in this aspect. Paris itself is presented in black and white (and red) where the area is Nazi dominated and in vibrant color where the resistance has a foothold. It’s an extremely effective manner of giving the player a quick idea of what the current situation could turn into.
The Saboteur also features plenty of explosions and high risk maneuvers. Dynamite is prevalent and there are thousands of targets for you to hit, it’s hard to go around a corner without the opportunity for some sort of destruction.
What I liked: The game is a good length, taking me about 15-20 hours to complete all the main missions and some side missions here and there. The amount of content in The Saboteur is impressive though, and to “complete” the game would probably take about 100 hours. What’s great about the adventure is that there’s no sense of incompletion even if you don’t knock out every target.
There’s a good variety of missions in the game, including some races, stealth sequences, and all out destruction derbies. One of The Saboteur’s highlights is that each mission has one of those “WOW” moments where everything is blowing up and you’re somehow still going strong plowing over Nazis like there’s no tomorrow. I like smiling when I’m playing video games, The Saboteur is fun!
What I didn’t like: The Saboteur’s story is a bit of a mess, the main tale is really just a story of revenge, but there are many missions where half way through I would find myself asking, “what am I doing again?” This father-daughter combo kept needing to be rescued even though I thought I delivered them to safety at least twice, but it doesn’t detract a lot from the entire experience.
The game’s artificial intelligence is rather lacking at times, Nazi soldiers just tend to stare off in one direction allowing you to easily stealth kill them without worry. During firefights, many soldiers will seemingly forget they were fighting you after you head around a corner for a moment, allowing you to easily pick them off as you pop back out.
There’s also a general lack of enemies too, with just maybe four types of regular enemies to fight off and essentially no boss encounters. But since this is more of a sandbox third person shooter than a cover based third person shooter, I guess this is a bit forgivable.
The Saboteur’s difficulty roller coasters around a bit, there were a few missions in particular that had me pulling my hair out. One of the game’s perks is that you can often approach each mission two different ways: stealth and run-and-gun. The game encourages you to use stealth when possible as you would think gunning it out would be suicide, but you’ll find over time that’s not really the case. Sean can take a lot of hits and keep on trucking.
The Saboteur is much more forgiving in both driving and shooting than many of its sandbox cousins, but it does suffer from some odd control issues here and there.
Fun Factor: 8
An all around great time with tons of things to do and an awesome protagonist to control. Some shootouts begin to feel repetitive over time, but they are definitely not the game’s main focus.
Graphics and Sound: 8
I loved the look of the characters and Paris, but there are also weird graphical glitches here and there too including some awful clipping. The voice cast is a mixed bag but the main character was very entertaining. The soundtrack was also very appropriate and enjoyable to listen to.
Just your regular revenge story set in the great period of Paris during World War II. Definitely a mixed bag here, but there are no twists or surprises anywhere.
The Saboteur was a great game that is already calling me back to play some more. I still have hundreds of little white dots on the map where I need to help the resistance out and spill some Nazi blood. If you enjoyed the Grand Theft Auto games from last generation but had a hard time getting into GTA IV, definitely give The Saboteur a shot.