The lights are on
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
I've heard it is a pretty fun game. It looks interesting.