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Game Profile
PlayStation 3
EA Games
Pandemic Studios
GENRE: Action
December 08, 2009

The Saboteur

The Saboteur

 Written by Adam Woolcott  on November 19, 2009

Final Glimpse: Not just another World War II rehash... really, I promise.

Usually, games based on World War II are gritty, melodramatic, and take place on the front lines of some of the most famous battles in history. There's a reason why the genre got so diluted and Infinity Ward decided they wanted to jump forward sixty years into the present ? everyone was doing their own recreations of the second Great War. The formula gets mixed up sometimes; you have Sony's Resistance franchise that actually creates a world where World War II didn't even happen, and the granddaddy of the genre, Wolfenstein, decided that Nazi Germany liked zombies and other supernatural things. Then there's The Saboteur. It doesn't delve into alternate reality or the occult ? the game is actually kind of based upon a true story ? but instead offers the viewpoint of one single man in his quest for revenge and ultimately, to liberate one of Germany's biggest conquests during the war. After the mediocre Mercenaries 2, one might be wary of a game coming from Pandemic, but the extended development time and more experience with the high-definition game consoles should result in a greatly improved game that's less about blowing stuff up, and more about sneaking around... and then blowing stuff up.

You may have heard of a WWII hero named William Grover-Williams, who was once an accomplished open-wheel race car driver in the 1920s, and eventually, due to his half-British/half-French heritage, an officer taking part in the liberation of France. You don't play as him per se (I would hope not, since he gets captured in 1943 and executed by Germany in 1945); instead you play Sean Devlin, an Irish race car driver living in Paris, France during the times of German occupation... see, the game was ?inspired by? a true story. For a while Sean went about his business without worrying about the Reich... then one of his friends was murdered by the Nazis and he decides to fight back out of revenge. Though Sean is not an official soldier, his fight ultimately gets supervised by both French and British intelligence, as he works to liberate Paris and its countryside not by using sheer force, but by using his wits and sneaking ability to sabotage numerous German offensives to eventually weaken their grip and ultimately run them out of town. Plus, he gets to hang out with French strippers and prostitutes.

When you see screens of The Saboteur, the first thing to notice is the black & white world. The only color is the blood red of Nazi flags, the lack of color otherwise used to show the oppression of the regime. Sean's goal is of course to topple Hitler's boys, and as a byproduct of that, he will gradually bring color back to one of the world's most beautiful cities. By completing missions in each sector of Paris, Sean boosts the morale of the French populace, and the color will change to correspond to their increased ?will to fight? as the game describes it. In these colored areas, Nazi presence will be lower and Sean will be more free to wander around without getting into a battle or three. Compare this to the still-dark areas where Sean will have to pull his best Altair imitation and blend into the city without making anyone nervous. In fact, there is a bit of an Assassin's Creed-esque gameplay element, namely climbing up buildings to either avoid detection or to better plan an attack on a Nazi target.

In general, The Saboteur is a stealth game, as the idea is to sneak attack the Nazi camps and ?sabotage? their operation. This can be accomplished in numerous ways, be it slowly slinking around to snap a few necks, or killing a guard, then procuring their uniform which then can be used to safely sneak around the protected area. Long as you keep distance, it's fairly easy to get much of your task accomplished without detection. Of course, if you're a real badass, it's possible to just gun your way through, though it's difficult to accomplish a task with gunfire hailing from every direction. Speaking of weapons, Sean gets involved in the black market of weaponry during the game, where he can get his hands on all sorts of authentic 1940s era goodies, be it the famous MP40, or a rocket launcher... which is perfect for those times when you need to take a Zeppelin out of the sky. There is a bit of a Mercenaries vibe to the gameplay with these weapons; while not quite as destructive as that series, you can still mess up buildings and put holes in Nazi territory.

Final Thoughts
During the writing of this preview, it was announced that Saboteur developer Pandemic would be shut down, just a few weeks shy of the game seeing release. As such, Saboteur now becomes a swan song for a long-time development team. EA has at least let the company finish the game instead of pulling the plug, though any last-minute touches, and any possible patches and downloadable content will be handled internally. Obviously someone in the company thought Saboteur had potential, or it would have been shut down or moved to another team a long, long time ago. Though Mercenaries 2 was a bit disappointing to fans of the original, it looks like Pandemic has crafted a solid game here, though it's doubtful they expected it to be their final game. Hitting December 8th for PC, PS3, and Xbox 360, it's releasing after the pre-Thanksgiving game rush, which means it's either not capable of standing up against the rest of the 2009 titles, or EA really wanted to give the game its own little piece of the release date pie, once everyone is coming off that flood of fall. With any luck, it's the latter. It might not end up a last-minute game of the year contender, but it should end up being a solid, fun game, giving Pandemic the right to say they went out well.

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