The Third Reich was like the letter X. Why? Both are Nazis. Hahaha, get it?Not Z’s? It’s a letter joke. Xyz. D- do you... Yeah, you get it. I promise the rest is better.
The sixth generation of consoles saw a deluge of WWII games, if only because Lt. “Reich”-ers are the perfect human bad guy. PS2, XBOX, and GameCube had more Nazi-fightin’ games than your mother had abortions. Some of them were great, like your mom’s HJs. Some were pretty bad, like your mom’s hygiene. But this isn’t about the 6th gen or your slut mom (no judgement). So this was mostly a wasted paragraph, only existing for sick burns.
By the time the 7th Gen rolled around, fighting Nazis became as stale as the crackers Jasmine’s father shoved into Iago’s fat beak. In strolled Modern Warfare, followed by a flood of contemporary War games where we shot Muslims for hating Jesus and America. Dubya Dubya Deuce? Boooo old news! No good games are left from that era, right?
Or so we thought...
Cue Pandemic Studios, makers of the Mercenaries, Destroy All Humans, & Star Wars: Battlefront series, and all around big swinging dick havers.
WHAT IS IT?
The Saboteur is a World War II, open-world, GTA clone, third-person shooter with stealth elements set in Paris. It was developed by Pandemic Studios and published by EA in 2009 for PS3, 360, and PC. Sadly, it would be the last game developed by such a fantastic studio. Even sadder, it didn’t become the Swan Song it should have been.
Players take control of the hardboiled (with a heart of gold), womanizing, Sean Devlin as he seeks revenge for the death of a friend. The game is unique in that it is black & white in areas of Nazi occupation (save for lights, fire, emblems, and irises). These areas are also perpetually night, as the dark clouds of the Wehrmact snuff out all hope. Once liberated, color returns to these areas. The clouds disappear to reveal a wonderful sunny day Or starry night. Sure, it’s not subtle, but visualizing hope in this manner is absolutely effective.
WHY IS IT GREAT
The Saboteur is a refreshing Nazi Slayer, with a decent story, interesting setting, novel premise, and nice twists to gameplay.
The story begins at a Grand Prix race in Germany. Mechanic-turned-racecar-driver (and extremely Irish) Sean Devlin (who is “fookin Oirish, mate”) has a race against an Aryan Nazi stereotype. After a basic tutorial and rather brilliant cutscene, the scruffy Mick (who’s Irish) loses his family, Jules, and flees to France with a newfound seething hatred for all things Furor. Because if there is one thing gamers need in a game about freeing a city of Nazis, it’s personal stakes.
The primary setting of The Saboteur is Nazi Occupied Paris- a city you may be interested in learning does not exclusively consist of the Eiffel Tower, Luvre, and baguette shops. It is, in fact, a full city, with homes and non-famous buildings and everything. The map for this game stretches from the country to the shore, with all the buildings, landmarks, farms, etc spread between. As an older city (and the game taking place in the 40s) there aren’t many skyscrapers, but it more than makes up for that with character. Paris is absolutely beautiful, and it’s odd that I can’t think of another game taking place there.
The main premise of the game, the feature most shoved down our throats in marketing, previews, reviews, and any/everything else related to it is the color palette. Areas of high occupation (thus less hope) are dreary, completely overcast, and (like four Pokémon games) black & white. Citizens in these areas try their best to keep their heads down and go about their lives, but you will witness executions and all manner of dickishness inflicted upon them. Liberating areas brings the color back, both literally and metaphorically.
Throughout the gameworld there are plenty of sniper nests, AA guns, comm sats, and propaganda speakers to blow up. Doing so in free play can make missions easier in that area.
Like most GTA-clones stealth has a minor role. What sets this one apart is the ability to pull an Agent 47 and wear a disguise. This adds a neat wrinkle to missions- a vantage point is easier to reach when dressed as a fellow member of the Alt-Right as opposed to a scruffy Irish mechanic known to be a rebel sympathizer.
However, the opposition isn’t too stupid. They’ll know something is up if they see a superior scaling buildings or Sean gets close enough for them to notice whiskey- not sauerkraut and orphan tears- on his breath.
Along the way, there are plenty of cars, weapons, and skills to unlock.
WHAT IT NEEDS
A complete overhaul. More resources. A chance to reach its full potential without the studio’s closure looming overhead like the clouds in the game’s occupied areas.
The best way to describe the game as a whole is this: It plays like a polished beta where players can see and feel the crunch of a closing studio.
The graphics (taken without the great B&W/Color aspect) look like a game from 2006, like the developers are still stuck in 6th gen and don’t fully know how to take advantage of the new consoles. This part is odd because even Mercs2 had better models.
The controls are floaty, like a carnival goldfish won by Darla from Finding Nemo. Despite the obvious effort by the animation team, walking and running never carry any weight. Sean doesn’t propel himself, so much as the ground moves underneath him. Climbing is...well, most reviews covered it well enough.
Shooting is imprecise and imbalanced. The reticle changes for each gun, but it’s always too big. Machine guns take a few too many shots to kill after a certain range (except headshots) . Shotguns can down a rooftop guard a couple city blocks away in two hits.
Driving is a mess- which is odd for a game revolving around a racecar driver. Vehicles turn with all the precision of a carousel, and brake as quickly as an avalanche. The e-brake theoretically helps with all the tight corners and sharp turns of Paris’ streets, but in practise is far more useful for 180° turns. Seriously, you will either need to invest more of your life than the game is worth to get a good handle on driving, or never exceed 10mph to avoid crashing into/murdering anything/one.
The emplacements all around the game world have no purpose. Sure, taking out a sniper nest can make missions easier, but blowing up refueling stations, comm satellites, and speakers does nothing other than earn money. It would be nice if destroying everything in an area brought it to a sepia color, with liberation missions finishing the job and vice versa. Y’know, merging the gameplay to make a more cohesive package.
Finally, it would be remiss if I didn’t mention the downloadable nipples. The original release came with a code to download “The Midnight Show”, a paid add-on that gave additional brothels and other hiding areas. Most importantly, it took off pasties from the game’s exotic dancers and revealed some boobage in all its nippled, plastic glory.
This was initially done to curb used sales by being free with a new game (because what gamer WOULDN’T pay $60 to see tits?), before becoming a free download, and ultimately being removed. So if you thought Ubisoft censoring adult bodies in an adult game was stupid, you would REALLY have a field day here.
WHO SHOULD MAKE IT
In a perfect world, Pandemic would be allowed to make the game they wanted. But this world is post-9/11, post-Brexit, and post-Trump. So I’ll list a few developers, and if you have any ideas leave a comment (right next to the complaints about fucking swearing, terrible jokes, and “getting political”).
·Rocktar Games- Obviously, right? They make phenomenal open-world games, and could utterly CRUSH this. A neo-noir GTA/Max Payne hybrid set in Nazi-controlled Paris.
·Treyarch- A decent studio with open world experience and a talent with taking an established game series, tweaking some things, and calling it new.
·Ubisoft- Apparently the newer Watch Dogs and AC games have been great. It could go well.
·DICE- This studio is owned by publisher EA and already has experience continuing a Pandemic series (Battlefront)
·Bethesda- I noticed a distinct lack of terribly stiff animations and three voice actors in the original. Plus, it would be nice to put a basket on the head of soldiers and steal their tanks unnoticed.
·Volition- The Saboteur lets you punch cattle which explode into meat chunks. I had an issue with this given the subject matter, but maybe jars of farts and giant bulges would change my mind?
I dunno. But one thing is certain: This game deservesanother chance at greatness.