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The Saboteur (PlayStation 3) artwork

The Saboteur (PlayStation 3) review


"The Saboteur was the last game Pandemic Studios produced before they were shut down. Pandemic certainly went out with a bang, as the Saboteur has you blowing up more Nazis than you probably ever have before. "



The Saboteur was the last game Pandemic Studios produced before they were shut down. Pandemic certainly went out with a bang, as the Saboteur has you blowing up more Nazis than you probably ever have before.

Graphics:

The Saboteur starts out in many different shades of gray. The areas that the Nazis have complete control of are all colorless, and as you liberate parts of France, color returns to the area. This art style is very nice, and seeing the transition from monochrome to color actually makes you feel like you accomplished something. One issue with the graphics is that if you opt not to turn you brightness to almost max, you can have difficulty seeing while in the Nazi oppressed areas. This can lead to some problems where you hit objects you probably would have been better off avoiding, or hitting people that were cheering you on in you fight against the Nazis. The game warns you that killing too many members of the resistance will make them hate you, and stop them from aiding you in the fight for France, but I never once swerved to avoid a pedestrian, and never had any problems with getting aid when I needed it.

Sabotaging stuff becomes one of the main focuses in the Saboteur, and as such, explosions should definitely look good, and they do. Pandemic appeared to put quite a lot of resources into making the explosions realistic, and they look especially amazing and vibrant against the gray environment that you'll be blowing up. The contrast between black and orange is certainly a nice change, and it will make you feel satisfied right after the explosion occurred.

Gameplay:

Controlling Sean Devlin is quite an easy feat. Killing Nazis is also really easy, as Sean can eat more bullets than most cars can before they blow up. If there is only on Nazi shooting at you, you have between 10 and 15 seconds before you actually need to find cover, something that isn't very difficult, before waiting a couple seconds for the blood to fall from your face. It seems that the emphasis off The Saboteur is not the difficulty in killing Nazis, but having fun while doing it. Sean is essentially a one man army, and really needs to be. There are almost no times that you get a partner, so it is usually you and you alone to liberate France.

Pandemic Studios stated that there was going to be quite a heavy emphasis on driving while playing The Saboteur, and they didn't lie. Even though there are only a couple story related races in the game, cars still play an incredibly important part in The Saboteur. Almost all the missions feel the need to make you drive half way across the map in order to make it to your objective. After finishing you objective, you need to drive half way across again, to begin the next quest. Almost all the cars are slow, as they should be as the cars were in the 1940s. The cars sure handle nicely though, as you can perform most real life driving techniques in The Saboteur. I once called Grand Theft Auto IV “The Best Driving Simulation Ever”, but I think The Saboteur may have taken away that title. I really liked the way you collected cars though, as after you steal a car, driving it to a garage allows you to “collect” it, allowing you to get a new one every time you get to a garage. This sped up the game a bit after getting my first sports car, as I could now speed across half of France faster than the slow cars you usually find. The flaw in this system is that once you get a car that isn't slower than a pedestrian crossing a street in front of you, you have little use for the others. I didn't use any other cars except for the escort missions where you couldn't fit 4 people into a two-seat car.

Story related quests are show on the map as yellow boxes, non-story related quests are shown as gray boxes, and garages/weapon shops or safe houses are shown in blue boxes. The map is very large, and navigating it while not in a mission is particularly frustrating, as you can't set custom markers, making you constantly opening your map or writing down the directions on a piece of paper. During missions however your mini-map tells you the exact route to take to make it to your destination.

When finally arriving at your destination, you control Sean in 3rd person mode. You usually have two choices; Stealth or Run and Gun. As already mentioned, Sean can take more bullets than Superman, so that is usually the best route to go. Stealth sections are sometimes nearly impossible, as if you get seen; a Nazi will blow his whistle, meaning the whole plan is blown. In order to counteract this, Sean can beat up a Nazi before the mission and steal his clothes, making him only detectable if Nazis get within a certain range of him. There is a suspicion bar that will fill up as long as they are within range. Once the bar is full, the Nazi will blow his whistle, and you are forced to shoot back. You can also climb buildings to get a better view of the area, or to get closer while being stealthy. The climbing system is just terrible. In order to go up, you have to continually mash the jump button. You also have to aim which ledge you want to go to with the control stick. It is slow, only has about two animations, and feels really clunky.

The Saboteur features a Perk system where you must do certain tasks in order to get permanent rewards. For example, if you get 10 stealth kills, you get a perk that lets you Sucker Punch Nazis. Most of these perks do come in handy, but none are actually needed to beat the game. In order to afford weapons, Sean must acquire Contraband. Contraband is acquired by completing missions kicking crates or destroying Nazi strongholds. Contraband doesn't add up very quickly if you stick just to the story missions. There are a large number of weapons that you can purchase from Black Market dealers, but I didn't buy anything from them except for the free explosives you get near the beginning, and was able to easily finish the story mode. The Nazis will drop all the guns you'll ever need, making the dealers quite redundant.

Story:

Nazis are bad. This statement sums up the story quite well. A more in-depth approach would be this: You are Sean Devlin, an Irish mechanic turned street racer who ends up becoming part of the French resistance after one of the people you care about is killed. You then go and attempt to liberate France from the Nazis, all while looking for the man who killed that person oh so dear to your heart. The problem with almost all games involving Nazis is that everyone already knows the ending. If you don't, don't play through The Saboteur to find out. The game ends after a boss fight that puts any other you have ever played to shame. You don't even have to press a button to win.

Sound:

The Saboteur takes place in a Nazi infested France, so you would expect most of the dialogue to be in France or German, but it doesn't. Almost every word uttered by a character is in English so that you can understand it. It doesn't even mix the dialogue like Assassin's Creed II does. I can't remember any French, and only a couple of times I heard the Nazis speak German. The accents are decent though, if not a little strong and overdone at times. At the very least the explosions sound like explosions.

Play Time:

Playing just through the story mode will not really take very long especially for a Sandbox game. I would estimate around 8 hours to clear through story mode, with only doing a couple side missions. This isn't a bad thing, as the game doesn't feel like it drags on, but it is artificially increasing its length by having around half the game as driving around the countryside and then getting lost. The Saboteur did leave me wanting more though, as I felt that the end of the game came way to quickly, as I expected another 4-5 hours of gameplay after that cutscene.

Replay Value:

The Saboteur does give you some things to do after the credits roll. There are a large number of Nazi control towers and tanks that you can blow up. There are also plenty of side missions to complete if you haven't already, as well as collecting all the cars or unlocking all the perks. That will give you some extra play time, but with no real reason to do any of it.

Pros and Cons:

+ Unique art style
+ Explosions and the fun of activating them
+ The driving controls and realism

- The climbing mechanics
- The final boss

Recommendation (Rent):

The Saboteur feels like a mixture between a few different sandbox games. It borrows the Driving mechanics from Grand Theft Auto IV, the climbing and stealth from Assassin's Creed, the destruction of Red Faction: Guerrilla and the climbing and liberation aspects from infamous. It does take all of these mechanics, but doesn't do any of them, (except arguably the driving) any better. In the end, it is relatively short for a sandbox game and while fun, doesn't really warrant the purchase.

Rating: 8/10

marter's avatar
Community review by marter (March 21, 2010)

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