|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Pandemic Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: EA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Dec. 8, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by D'Marcus Beatty
Most gamers will agree that World War II games have been pretty much done to death. How many different ways can developer repackage WWII to make it fresh? Lately the answer has seemed to be zero, as all of the WWII games have seemed to be generic copies of each other. Pandemic Studios, however, might be looking to change that fact with their latest announced game, Saboteur, which puts players in the role of the titular Saboteur, aiding the Allies against the Nazis from inside enemy lines. Saboteur is unlike most WWII games, however, in that it isn't a simple FPS shooter. Saboteur, instead, is a blend of many different genres tying together to create a game that is hard to define and a World War II experience that isn't a carbon copy of the dozens of games that came before it.
The game's protagonist is named simply Sean, an Irishman in France who has recently lost family and friends to the Nazis. Before his loss, Sean wasn't overly concerned with the Nazi presence, but the murdering of his family opens his eyes to their oppression, and he begins to resist their presence. However, Sean isn't a superhero or a mercenary and will definitely need help, so he has to forge bonds with the Underground French Resistance. This story sets the stage for the game, as Sean attempts to avenge his family and friends' deaths at the hands of a Nazi general.
The gameplay in Saboteur will be set up in a manner similar to other sandbox titles like Grand Theft Auto or Saints Row. Sean will be able to choose to accept one of various missions to progress. While story missions are self explanatory, free play missions will give Sean access to new weapons or areas to facilitate gameplay in story missions. Sean will also be able to use any weapon, vehicle, or outfit that he sees in the game. This means that the player can steal weapons and outfits from defeated foes and use them to their own advantage, allowing a stealthy player to knock out a Nazi foe and steal their outfit to blend in with the remaining Nazis. That its, of course, only if the suit is intact. A bullet riddled suit definitely wouldn't pass inspection. There are a number of different suits to pilfer, all of which give access to different areas, since a low ranking Nazi wouldn't have the same clearance as an officer.
Saboteur will be partially stealth based, although without the slow pacing of the average stealth based game. Stealth for Sean will come by generally acting normally. Sean only attracts attention when behaving erratically, such as running unnecessarily or brandishing a gun. When alerted, however, the Nazis will converge upon Sean, allowing him to engage them in fisticuffs or in a shootout. However, since Sean is vastly outnumbered, he'll eventually have to retreat and hide. To do so, he'll most likely use some Prince of Persia-esque climbing maneuvers that will allow him to escape to the rooftops until the alert blows over.
One of the most unique things about Saboteur is the use of coloring in the game. Saboteur uses a lack of coloring to symbolize the feel of Nazi oppression in an area. In a town overrun by Nazis, the game will appear only in black and white with slight color highlights (Think Sin City). As Sean successfully completes more and more acts of sabotage and decreases the Nazi population, color will gradually spill back into the scene. The color effect is especially pronounced when Sean crosses from a black and white area to a colored area, where there is a nearly visible and surreal line of demarcation showing the difference. In addition to the color returning to the area, more citizens are inspired by your lead and will make themselves known, actively resisting the Nazis. This unique approach to visually showing your progress and using color to symbolize freedom should definitely set this game apart from any game before it.
Saboteur is unquestionably one of the more interesting titles coming to next-gen systems. The game hasn't officially been announced for any console yet, but hopefully will see a release in 2008. With its unique color approach, its blending of genres, and its original take on World War II, Saboteur looks like a game to watch for, especially considering that it comes from Pandemic.
CCC Former Co-Site Director