The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Gamers can’t escape World War II. We’ve stormed the beaches of
Normandy, fought the Battle of the Bulge, and liberated Stalingrad a
hundred times over, yet developers keep dangling Nazis in front of our
gun muzzles. Thankfully Pandemic isn’t interested in making us relive
these historical triumphs again. Rather than trying to encapsulate the
drama of the entire European Theater, The Saboteur earns points for
concentrating its efforts on a specific location with a specific
Sean Devlin wasn’t always a revolutionary fighter. The
smarmy Irish race car driver would rather spend his time in bars and
bedrooms. But when a Nazi officer steals a race from him, kills his
best friend, and aids the invasion of Paris, he puts his leisurely
pursuits on hold and takes up arms with the French Resistance. That’s
not to say he’s carving a new identity for himself – Devlin still makes
time for the occasional race and romp, but instead of hanging out at
bars in between exploits, he’s hanging off Nazi towers planting
explosives to drive the Wehrmacht back to Germany.
As befitting its brash leather jacketed protagonist, The Saboteur bleeds cool. Like Sin City,
Parisian neighborhoods stifled under German occupation have no color
save for the yellow light emanating from building windows and the bold
red banners of their Nazi oppressors. With German soldiers harassing
Parisian citizens and even lining up impromptu execution squads on the
streets, the oppression is palpable. As Devlin rids the area of Nazi
tanks, watchtowers, AA guns, and encampments, color comes back to the
area and its citizens will start openly defying the German squads
stationed around the city. While much of the joie de vivre
Paris is well known for is stifled above ground by barbed wire and Nazi
propaganda, the underground is full of life, with sexy showgirls at
Parisian cabarets who take you into hiding, wily black marketeers eager
to sell you new weaponry, and intellectuals turned revolutionaries in
need of Devlin’s help to drive the Germans from their homeland.
Saboteur isn’t afraid to borrow concepts from its contemporaries. An
amalgamation of the open world sandbox of Grand Theft Auto, the chaotic
freeplay of Crackdown, the climbing of Assassin’s Creed, and the
zipline and rooftop traversal of Infamous, the game wears its
influences on its sleeve. While these game mechanics work, like the
French resistance they seem to have been done on the cheap. The
sluggish car controls seemingly turn on an axis in the middle of the
vehicle, which takes practice to master. Climbing frustratingly
requires you to jam on the A button for each movement up the building.
The gunplay has a sketchy auto cover system and the weaponry lacks the
punch of more visceral shooters.
Other areas of the game also
lack the polish of a groundbreaking title as well. Pandemic
questionably buried the map three clicks into the menu system, which is
a major faux pas for an open world game that requires you to place
waypoints to navigate the large city. Cars take damage from bullets,
but you’ll need to run over an entire city block of benches before you
start seeing any wear and tear on the chassis. The Germans were bold
enough to overtake Paris, but given the braindead and lackadaisical
nature of their infantry, it doesn’t take much to drive them from
The Saboteur may lack the polish of the
contemporaries it boldly mimics, but protagonist Sean Devlin’s quest
for revenge and an alluring 1940s Paris make this a World War II memory
Email the author Matt Bertz, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.