Pandemic Studios goes out with a fizzle with the recent release of The Saboteur.
The Saboteur allows the player to enter the shoes of Sean Devlin, an Irish racecar driver, in his attempt to save Paris from Nazi occupation during World War II. The game plays like a typical third-person action game, utilizing a cover system much like that in Gears of War. Devlin can attack the various Nazi encampments throughout the city, such as propaganda towers and artillery patrols, and sabotage them using various explosives. Doing so eventually frees each of Paris’ districts from the Nazi invaders and also gains Devlin money he can use to upgrade his equipment at the black market.
One unique thing about the game is the art style. When a district is under Nazi control everything except the red of the Nazi flags and symbols and blood is in black and white, which is an extremely interesting and well-done look. When Devlin frees these areas, the art style goes back to a normal colored one. Unfortunately the areas do not look as interesting when in the normal color scheme. The game still looks good when it goes back to color, but the black and white style was so unique and the red of blood and Nazi flags so starkly contrasted the black and white style that one wishes the whole game was in black and white.
The game also seems to try to do too much. Paris is an open-world city, much like the Grand Theft Auto games, and the game allows the player to get into almost every car and drive away. The unfortunate part is that the driving just isn’t quite as refined as most other games with this element. Players will often miss a turn at an intersection or accidentally run over a few civilians because steering and braking is not as tight as it could be. The other thing the game does not do well is the shooting. Devlin is extremely slow in aiming at enemies, even if they are just a few inches to the side of where he is originally standing. Often times there will be no indication as to where enemies are shooting from, so the player will have to search the area for the enemy, some of which randomly become extremely good at aiming for Devlin’s head.
Overall, The Saboteur is a mediocre game. This is incredibly sad, as it is the final game Pandemic developed before being closed by its parent company EA. The black and white art style of the Nazi-occupied districts is very well-done, but unfortunately becomes mediocre when turning back to the color. The driving could be a bit tighter and the shooting could be a bit looser, which are both the major downfalls to the game. For a full-priced title, this reviewer would recommend staying away until it is a bit cheaper.