Video games set during the World War II era aren't hard to find. Franchises like Medal of Honor and Call of Duty helped popularize the genre a few generations ago but gamers have since grown tired of the same scenarios. Sure, WW II was massive and took place in various parts of the world but we can only take part in those same battles only so many times until they begin to feel stale. What the genre needed was a fresh take, something that was less predictable, and that is exactly what Pandemic Studios has crafted here.

The Saboteur takes the open world approach and applies it to the familiar setting with glorious results. Players take the role of Sean Devlin, a former race car driver who has had his life ruined by the Nazi uprising. After losing a dear friend, Sean sets out on a vendetta to extract revenge on them. He is soon recruited by the French Resistance who aids him on this mission in return for some dirty work. I found the actual story to be overall pretty well done. Some of the characters are memorable and the voice acting is solid.

After joining the Resistance, Sean does a variety of different jobs for different factions to try and win them over for the cause. There is a nice variety in gameplay throughout. The driving and shooting mechanics are both solid. The gunplay is by no means as polished as something like Gears of War but it is adequate enough to get the job done.

Stealth is where I had a little bit of trouble though. The foundations are all there but I still found these segments to be the hardest. Sean can do things like disguise himself in Nazi uniforms to remain undetected within restricted areas but I was hardly ever able to keep my cover for long. This is because of all the restrictions you have while disguised. Things such as running, climbing, and getting too close to enemies all reduce the usefulness of your disguise and if you don't knock these activities off then you are recognized and an alarm is immediately sounded. Almost every single stealth venture I took part in resulted in an alarm, which then forced me to fight back or run away. I don't think the stealth is broken by any means, I just found some of the restrictions to be ridiculous and unforgiving and this was definitely the hardest part of the game for me. I also felt the melee combat was a bit under polished. Thankfully it's not necessary that often but it still could've used some improvement.

Stealth and melee aside, the gameplay is a blast. The entire city of France is at your disposal and this is where I found the the game's most redeeming factors. The detail put into the world is impressive and there are loads of things to keep you busy. From sabotaging German installations to discovering secrets hidden in every nook and cranny, there is so much to discover in this world. You aren't just confined to the city either. There are also vast stretches of countryside to explore and cause mayhem in, which I found to be quite refreshing after spending hours in the city. For the completionists and achievement hunters out there, this game will entertain for numerous hours, and it isn't tedious either.

Climbing is another large part of the gameplay and is handled quite well. The developers definitely took notes from Assassin's Creed but that isn't a bad thing by any means. It is fairly easy to scale and navigate buildings and the game actually does a better job of highlighting what parts of a wall you can and cannot grab onto than AC does.

The art style is also interesting. When you start the game the whole world is boringly black and white. As you start to help liberate the different areas of France they become painted in nice colors. One of my favorite moments was climbing to the top of the Eiffel Tower (which you can jump from and survive if you know how) and looking out across the beautiful environment. Most of the city was portrayed in striking colorful visuals, but I could also see the areas where I didn't spend as much time in and they were covered in shadow. The idea is pretty basic but I found it to be executed very well.

Much like in Grand Theft Auto, music accompanies you whenever you enter a vehicle. The songs fit the setting nicely and really help the immersion. It actually reminded me of Bioshock for some reason and I am pretty sure they are all real songs from real artists of the time.

The game's economy works like this. From completing story missions to blowing up Nazi toys, you receive contraband for everything you do, which acts as your currency. You can spend your hard earned contraband on things like weapons and upgrades. There is also a perk system. Perks are separated by gameplay styles. There are perks for driving, shooting, stealth, explosives, and melee combat to name a few. Fulfilling certain requirements unlocks better perks which improve your overall experience as one would come to expect from such a system.

Small gripes aside, The Saboteur is an immensely entertaining experience. There is enough to do for many hours and the amount of variety keeps things fresh. The story is solid but the true meat of the game lies in it's sandbox. Pandemic found a way to make fighting Nazis fun again and crafted an interesting world in which to do so. There are some annoyances along the way but it's never enough to ruin the fun. Causing Nazi grief and liberating the city of France is an experience I won't soon forget.