The video game realm has seen its fair share of World War II titles, though mostly in the shooter fashion, Pandemic and EA were ambitious enough to set an open world adventure in this era. Enter “The Saboteur,” set in Occupied Paris and the surrounding French countryside. “The Saboteur” is a new trick for an old genre though could have used some more refinement.
In the Saboteur, you play as Devlin, an Irish exile and race car mechanic turned driver, out for revenge against the Nazi’s who are responsible for the death of your best friend. While the story line takes some liberties with historical fact, the writers make them fit while you help set in motion the French Resistance.
Your character can do pretty much everything, sprint, climb, shot, swim and drive; though he doesn’t do any one thing particularly well, as goes the adage of a jack of all trades. While none of these user actions are out right broken, none are finely tuned delivering a solid mediocre experience. There is no health meter on the HUD (heads up display) though the screen will be splashed with blood, the darker means you’re close to dying. Finding cover or avoiding gunfire for a period of time, will restore your health.
What I found to be the most frustrating aspect of the game was the players interaction with enemies and vehicles. Pandemic did an honest job at giving Paris a truly occupied feel because you can’t openly carry a weapon, shoot or even look at a Nazi the wrong way without raising an alarm. There are Nazis and installments everywhere. The roofs have sniper towers, anti-aircraft guns, artillery cannons, while the coast and countryside are riddled with costal defenses, train stations, bridges, tanks, and rocket sights. When Devlin causes an alarm to go off, there seems to be no rhyme or reason to increase the warning. Alarms 1 and 2 are manageable and easy to escape where as this leads to motorcycled troops and cars to follow you, though after breaking sight with your pursuers, the alarm is quickly cancelled. Alarms 3 and 4 are frustrating and considerably harder to halt. The Gestapo, armored tanks, heavily armed soldiers, and Nazi Airships above the city will pursue your while shooting at you. Finally, on a level 5 alarm, the Luftwaffe will be added into the mix, strafing you with gun fire.
I will blame my lack of enthusiasm for driving to be on the time setting. 1930’s cars are no peach to drive, meaning accelerating and handling are clunky and frustrating, though after acquiring race cars, this makes traveling easier. Their complete lack “green” consideration makes the cars tolerable to drive while trying to escape from an alarm because they will take a considerable amount of damage before catching fire and exploding.
The main missions do their job and move the story along. The writers aren’t winning any Pulitzers, but the ending leaves it open for an unnecessary sequel. When you start out, the city of Paris is covered in a gloomy noir fog. The world is draped in black, white and gray, while some characters’ eyes or clothing, Nazi or SS flags and blood have color. As the story progresses and the people of Paris are “inspired” a shockwave of color give life to the area. This is normally accompanied by an explosion or gunshot in ending a mission.
Something that I noticed while playing through the story was that destroying Nazi installments will make missions easier. There was an area in a graveyard that had numerous towers, tanks, and a general. After destroying those emplacements there was a significant decrease in the amount of Nazis I had to face during the mission.
The Saboteur is the perfect example of a mediocrity. There’s nothing that you haven’t done before, just in a different setting. While the “Inspiration” is a nice addition to an open world game (that I’ve played) though what should have been a bigger determining factor of inspiration is completing the ambient free-play missions in opposition to strictly story mission completion.
OFR Rating: 2 out of 5 – Rent It: You’ll get some easy achievements, though they might not be worth the time you put in.