Release Date: 12/8/2009
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The Good: Nice art style, superb voice acting, story, and memorable characters, lots of weapons
The Bad: Stealth mechanics are broken, climbing buildings isn’t all that fun, not many side missions
Grand Theft Auto has inspired a lot of games and The Saboteur is one. Think of this as Grand Theft Paris in which you play as Sean Devlin an Irish man trying to help the French Resistance against the Nazi war machine. Yes, this is another WWII, but it’s different. Just read along and you’ll see.
The first thing you will notice is the game’s atmosphere. It’s set in a replica of 1940’s Paris and feels just like it. The graphics are technically looking good but artistically is where it’s at. When you liberate an area of the city it turns from black and white to color. So as you travel through the city the color will change in real time. What’s great about it artistically is that in the B&W areas only the red of the Nazi flags stands out. On resistance soldiers and leaders certain things on them are in color such as the eyes, and parts of clothing and it makes things look really unique. While this all looks great the novelty wears off pretty quick and you end up forgetting about it.
The game has stealth game play and shooting mechanics. When you get a mission you can jack a car or get one from your garage (you can store new ones there too) and follow a yellow route line on your mini-map to your destination. While the game is called The Saboteur this is actually the hardest thing in the game to pull off. Some missions have you trying to sneak into an enemy camp. This is marked by barbed wire on the map and if you enter it you will sound the alarm almost immediately if you are seen. Your goal is to knock out a soldier and take his disguise. This isn’t always as easy as it sounds because you have to make sure other soldiers aren’t looking. If someone sees the dead body a yellow “suspicious zone” will appear and even if you are in disguise you can trigger an alarm. Doing things such as running, climbing buildings, and walking fast will make soldiers who can see you suspicious.
The stealth element is kind of flawed because they all work against you. Trying to plant dynamite in an area to draw soldiers away doesn’t work at all since they just stand there staring around. There are a lot of times where you will be forced to just gun it out because the stealth elements are so flawed that you can’t get away with sneaking. Some missions will go flawlessly and others won’t. This doesn’t make the game unplayable, it just has you wasting your time trying to figure out a stealthy way when it turns out, after so much effort, there just isn’t one.
Gun play is simple enough with cover mechanics and there are a ton of true-to-the-era weapons as well. You can find ammo crates all over the place, but you can only carry two weapons at a time. Between missions, you can visit black markets and use contraband to buy upgrades for resistance fighters, car upgrades, ammo etc. It’s all pretty basic with nothing special in the store, but there’s nothing crucial that you will need to buy to get past a part of the game.
The missions are pretty diverse so this isn’t the issue with the game. The issue is how you have to execute the missions and nothing ever really turns out the way you planned. All of this needs to be trimmed up and fixed for the sequel. During missions, if you raise an alarm you can run (like in GTA4) or find a hiding spot. Most are located on top of buildings and climbing isn’t very fun. This isn’t Assassin’s Creed so climbing is sluggish and a bit unresponsive. Thankfully you only climb buildings about 40% of the game.
Other than that the game is worth a purchase if you like sandbox games. There aren’t many side missions or free play missions, but the game is long enough to get your money’s worth. The story is the best part of the game with memorable characters and a gripping ending. Watching these people struggle for survival against Nazi Germany is movie quality. The writing is witty and Sean has a lovable personality. You quickly grow to love these characters and they are all fleshed out nicely. The game also has lots of boobs, but this sticks to true 1940’s Paris because nudity wasn’t as sinful as it is today. Of course, you have to buy the game new or buy the unlock DLC for the nudity and four cinematic stripper scenes.
Overall the game is solid in some areas and not in others. With broken stealth mechanics, you can’t always be the saboteur the game claims, but certain missions are satisfying enough to play out the way you want. The game is looking good for a sequel and I’ll definitely be by Sean’s side when that time comes.