Making the Case: The Saboteur

After a long hiatus, Making the Case makes its grand return to Gamer Crash.  I’m kicking off 2011 with an overlooked gem from 2009.  As always, I present the facts and you make the decision.  Up this week: The Saboteur for the PS3 and Xbox 360.

In addition to ending the calendar year, December 2009 also marked the last game release for Pandemic Studios, after bringing us great games like Star Wars: Battlefront and Mercenaries.  Thankfully, their swan song, The Saboteur, provided a fantastic way to go out: with a bang. 

So with an open world 1940s style Paris, France up for grabs, is this game worth your attention?  You ready to cause some serious explosions?  Click below for the details!

The Saboteur takes place in the 1940s during a Nazi-occupied, war-torn France.  Stop rolling your eyes.  Yes this may be another WWII game, but it’s not what you think.  You play as Sean Devlin, an Irish race car driver who is seeking revenge on a German driver after being cheated out of a first place win at the Saarbrucken Grand Prix.  Sean and his buddy, Jules, sabotage the German’s prized race car in a prank based on light-hearted revenge, but they ultimately get captured.  Believing them to be British agents, the Nazi’s execute Jules but Sean manages to escape before he gets a similar fate.  With his motivation to kill the German and get some payback, Sean joins up with the French Resistance to cause havoc and get information on his target.

Taking a cue from the very popular movie, Sin City, The Saboteur features a well done grayscale/color stylized Paris.  In Nazi Occupied zones, the world is a rainy black in white, only small amounts of red and yellow standing out.  Here the Nazis will be on high alert, interrogating citizens, attacking in force when necessary, and just generally being a pain.  Cause enough damage, you’ll eventually liberate the area and bring color and life back into the zone.  While this won’t completely evict the Nazis, their presence will be lessened and you’ll even receive help from the French Resistance if you get in trouble.  This aspect is definitely one of the defining features of the game and is really well done.  The graphics were good for the time, but certainly wouldn’t win any “Best of” awards.  Thankfully, the art style makes up for it.

The controls are what you’d expect from a third person game.  Sean is also able to climb buildings around the city, even landmarks like the Eiffel Tower.  One thing you’ll notice though is that the climbing is not as intuitive as a game like Assassin’s Creed.  Ledges light up where you can move and you have to press a button each time to make him climb.  It can feel a bit clunky compared to what we have now a days but it certainly works. 

Like in any typical open world game, you’re able to basically do what you want.  Main storyline missions are easily highlighted on the minimap but your certainly free to explore and do what you want around Paris and the countryside.  Cars can be stolen and even collected.  While the handling isn’t the greatest in this game, it’s not terrible by any stretch.  Yes, the cars feel heavy and a bit stiff but car chases are still entertaining.  Thankfully, the world is populated with a massive amount of things to do.  Nazi structures can be blown up to gain contraband, which acts as the game’s currency for buying upgrades, guns, and other things.  The cool thing is, by blowing up these structures, you can make certain missions a bit easier.  Sniper nest giving you trouble?  Blow it up!  Side missions like racing or car collecting are also available to the player if they’re looking for something else to do.  In an interesting twist, a perk system has been included and upon completing the requirements, Sean will gain upgraded abilities like reduced recoil on guns or a haymaker attack among many more things.  These perks are completely optional but are fun to accomplish and will help you as the game progresses.

The Saboteur doesn’t tell you how to play the game either.  Sean can obviously go in guns blazing, but you can also use stealth to accomplish tasks to hopefully avoid combat.  Sean is able to disguise himself with Nazi uniforms to try to blend in.  Each guard has an alert radius so you should try to stay out of it.  Once an alarm triggers, it’s time to shoot.  Alarms don’t turn off as well, so be ready.  Having said that, don’t expect a Splinter Cell type of experience.  Many times it’s just easier to go in armed to the teeth.  Ammo is plentiful and Sean acts more like a bullet sponge than anything else.  It’s not a deep experience, but it sure is a lot of fun.  Planting dynamite on Nazi equipment and seeing it blow up has never been more awesome. Voice work is really well done in the game.  The dialogue is campy but that’s the angle Pandemic was going for.  It’s cheesy but fits.  Expect a lot of alcohol references and swearing from lead protagonist Sean Devlin in an Irish accent.  The music is really great as it fits the time period and atmosphere perfectly. 

Overall, I definitely recommend this one.  It’s probably around 20 bucks at this point (maybe less) and at that price, it’s a no brainer.  The Saboteur is a fun ride that gives the player a ton of things to do in this open world game.  Sure, it may not be a graphical or technological achievement, but the game is down right fun.  In the end, isn’t that why we’re here? 

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4 Responses to Making the Case: The Saboteur

  1. fazor3d says:

    I was initially interested in this game (it came about about the time I bought my 360), but the very mixed reviews it received kind of put it on the back-burner. And you’re right; I have seen it in the “bargain bin” at various stores for ~$20.

    Might have to add it to my GameFly queue.

    • gamercrash says:

      Yeah honestly, it’s worth a play. I know it got a lot of flack for the whole “EA planning on shutting down Pandemic” talk before it came out which turned a lot of people off. It’s a solid, fun game for sure. Don’t expect AAA stuff from it, but it’s good for what it is. I enjoyed my time with it.

  2. gamerman says:

    The Saboteur is obviously not for kids or anybody who is sensitive about profanity or gentlemans clubs.

    That being said, I thought Saboteur was a cool escape. Another game I like is Resident Evil 5.

    I am not into any other games out there, fighting a battle field simulation game does not appeal to me.

    Kids make up a huge percentage of the gamers out there, and the average guy inAmerica has never been to Paris and does not appreciate the appeal of the Saboteur I suppose.

    It’s too bad there probably will never be a sequel starring Sean Devlin. I would have enjoyed hanging out in Paris and watching the Normandy Invasion and the final
    conquest of Nazi Germany in subsequent Saboteur titles. The Midnight Club was pretty cool, although I despise pornography, I thought the club dances were tasteful and artistic. Besides, its fun to have a drink and take a break from killing nazis once in a while.

    • gamercrash says:

      Thanks for reading!

      Yeah, it’s too bad we’ll probably never see a sequel. I’d love to see a follow-up with even more tweaks and upgrades from the first game. Ah well, we can dream right?

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