The Saboteur Review
By Bernard Wong
A lot of games in the recent years of the 3rd generation consoles initiation and activation (when the PS3, 360 and Wii were created I mean), have gone for the 3rd person, open world kind of games. Examples? GTAIV is the standard example, and more games that followed like inFAMOUS, Prototype, Darksiders and now The Saboteur. With all the titles just mentioned, have been released within close proximity of each other, Darksiders as recent as early 2010, the formula for these kind of games can be quite stale…depending on how you look at them. Yes, they look and feel like GTA clones and the principles are still there to do missions and upgrade weapons, transportation, etc. But the interesting part with all these games is, they are different and they tell a more interesting story from one to the next.
The Saboteur, French sounding as it sounds…lovely but with a hint of danger and mystery.
But is this game going to be “Un tour décevant”?
Or will it be making you scream out your inner “Vive le France, Vive le revolution!”?
Life in France was one that was of great enjoyment back in the 1940’s. Fruition of business, the economy, women and alcohol to fill ones pleasures.
For Irishman, Sean Devlin, life was getting better day by day as his dream of being a professional race car driver come true after being a mechanic for most of his working life. Entering into his 1st Grand Prix held in Germany, Devlin was sure to take the win. But that win was ultimately taken away from him by famous German race car driver, Kurt Dierker.
June 14th, 1940 marks the official day that the German Army had invaded and conquered their way to Paris, France. German forces occupying the north and west sides of France after both German and French delegates agreed on an Armistice. Devlin now has become somewhat of a degenerate. No longer racing, he now frequents a brothel in the red light district and boards there for minimal rent, drinking and having his fair share of women whenever he wants…
Until he is approached by a mysterious Frenchman who speaks to him and asks the ultimate question.
“To stand and make a fight, or to die on your knees like a coward. What is your choice, Irishman?”
The Saboteur comes in at an interesting type of game that is mainly great for its storyline. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s a one player, open world game that’s derived from modern predecessors. But its storyline and its setting is a new and fresh aspect to the GTA’s and Prototypes of the past.
Pandemic Studios bring in their latest project that stems from a real setting but of course with fictional circumstances. You could say its GTA4 meets Assassins Creed. Devlin can climb buildings just like Altair/Ezio could in their games, but its slow going. Adding more realism that this ordinary race car driver isn’t the world’s best rock climber or can speed scale houses. Your character Devlin has a wide access to different accessories that is quintessential to gameplay. Of course the small things come first, Devlin has access to firearms and ammunition from the underground resistance’s black markets. He can get anything from the German Kruger pistol to the German Panzershrek anti tank weapon. So weapons aside, you can also go to hotspots on the map indicated by an icon that looks like a wrench, and at that hotspot these are garages where you can collect cars and store them in the garage. The best thing as well, you collect the cars and can use them anytime in brand new condition. Later, this mode is extended to an easier use. To round of this trio, is headquarter locations. Usually these are the places where you will report to for missions and such, but they also serve as hideouts. You can usually buy your weapons as well here as well as go to the garages, they are the safe havens that are littered all over Paris.
But for all these things that can help you, how do you pay for it all and purchase the necessary weapons to get the job done? Contraband. Yep, I said it, contraband is the currency for this game. Measured in just units, no dollars or anything, Contraband pays for the weapons and perks that you can attain. More on perks soon. How you can earn the contraband is of course through the main story missions. But, there is also another way. Scattered throughout all of Paris and on your map, look like white dots, are “Freeplay Targets”. These targets are the German occupation that you can take out with explosives or by fighting them. Small targets such as guard checkpoints into different areas, propaganda speakers, guard towers, AA Gun emplacements and other installations as well can all be targeted and sabotaged.
As the game progresses, like Modern Warfare 2, you have perks that you can unlock and achieve. These perks are marked as bronze, silver and gold levels. With perks like evasion, stealth techniques, vehicle unlocks and a plethora more ways to upgrades. It is a welcoming idea to further make the game more enjoyable with perks. Another great edition and this is a welcoming feature to provide depth to the game is a ‘journal’ entry. The Journal is the “how’s how” of how to play the game and explains terms and meanings of specific scenarios and button configurations to aid you in your vengeance against the Nazi’s.
Though there is an ABUNDANT more features to this game, one other thing I would like to mention in terms of gameplay is when you purchased The Saboteur new, you should’ve received a ‘Golden Ticket” that had a code that is redeemable in the Playstation store or XBOX Live store to download. The extra content for the game in which you can go into an underground part of the brothel that Devlin lives in and play a few games and win great prizes such as an added vehicle. The content also allows you to see some red light district dancers actually perform, as well as the code removes restrictions for nudity. So yes, you will see some boobs and rump asses. But more on that in the presentation section.
Publisher Electronic Arts (EA), have pushed a good soundtrack for voice recording and sounds and music to a good standard. For music, they threw in a lot of good music for the time period. With artists on tracks that were remixed from the time, they have made the songs fit evenly. It’s not grating, or annoying in my opinion, you do have the option to change music whenever your in the car, though I will admit, they could have put more songs. But for the music composition, a definite mention should be for Gabriel Mann and Rebecca Kneubuhl who spear headed the music for the game.
Now in terms of sound with the voice acting, I must say it was a ‘hit and miss’ factor this time round. Some of the dialogue isn’t too badly done, but it isn’t that superb either, it fits the tone of the game but I think in some key moments, it was lacking. For main character Sean Devlin voiced by Robin Atkin Downes, his portrayal is actually quite fitting for the character and a great detail to notice is that his words fits the lip synching that is shown on the Devlin model. The accents for supporting characters is where the hits and misses occur. One example would be the voice of Veronique. Due to not telling the story, of course which I won’t say, but her voice acting interestingly enough is voiced by 2 people for some strange reason. But the strangeness carries in the game when you can hear the differences in the oral diction and ‘curvature’ of the words of the French character turned English. You’ll see what I mean.
Just touching base with the sounds for guns, explosions and car sounds, it isn’t too badly done. Again, not ground breaking stuff. But its nice to hear that some of the firearms they seemed to give them more punch to match the period since the firearms were quite powerful back then being WWII era. But noticeably, some firearm enthusiasts who may hear closely, such as yours truly, will notice some sounds are not authentic. But it isn’t a detraction to the gameplay, just a small nuance that one may find. Overall its good, but I think could be done with a bit more polish and make it more intensifying. Though this doesn’t shine as strong as the other parts like gameplay, I believe the presentation aspect is what really shines about this game
Though we have said it quite a few times already, The Saboteur is undoubtedly a rehashing of the GTA Franchise. You get your orders, you do your mission, and there are plenty of side quests and ways to make money and buy those guns that you wanna try on your enemies. But it’s the rehashing of the story, the scenery, and the characters that make the principle of the open world games great to revisit. The setting for the game that’s in Paris, is powered by the video game engine of Odin, Havok. Recreating France never looked so good. With architecture of the houses as well, you can see just how they captured the time period well.
There are some funny things that happens within the game. Due to probably a few bugs or clipping issues. Some Nazis could be floating in mid air, and if you have the privilege of seeing it, a car you may drive past will suddenly just bounce, yes that’s right. Bounce, heck it looked like it did a stationary takeoff. But due to these funny things, it can actually prove to be a bit of an inconvenience. Hopefully you’ll see that on your own. Lol.
A great deal went into the production values for The Saboteur, of course it isn’t as big as GTA4, but it gets the job done decently. Another great thing I liked, if your talking to a character that has jumped into the car with you on a story mission, if you pass through a checkpoint or interrupted for some reason, the conversation is cleverly brought back with a leading statement like “so you were saying?” or “As I was saying”. It’s the little details that can make you crack up laughing or appreciate it immediately.
What I also like about the game is how they have captured the life of Paris, France back in the day. Though the country is under Nazi occupation, there is always something happening in the red light district where Devlin is staying. Like I had mentioned before, if you had bought the game and used the redeemable code, you could unlock the secret underground section for extra content. One of that extra content is to actually see showgirls dancing to a pretty saucy number. Now it’d be weird to say not to get hyperactive about seeing boobs in a game, but strangely enough the dancing and the rendering is actually quite jaw dropping. Its well done, its hot, its provocative and just unbelievably life like (at first).
Last thing on presentation, and funnily enough I should’ve mentioned earlier, The Saboteur is a game that actually looks like it was back in the 40’s, starting off black and white, but when Devlin goes through the game and completing missions, the game will flourish with color. It’d be patchy at first as you gain color, and when you do, it’s an indication that the French people are regaining hope in such a desperate time that was the invasion and occupation of France by the Nazi forces. It’s a nice touch because in the areas that you regain color, if you actually get pursued by Nazis at any stage during the game, the French bystanders NPC’s (Non Playable Characters) will jump in and fight for you. Resulting in giving you precious seconds to get away.
To be honest, there is a plethora of little things to discover and a hell of a lot more modes to see in this game. I don’t have the space to put it in, nor do I wanna give so much away. Your just going to have to experience it. The Saboteur is a well rounded game, amongst so many recent “Open World” kind of games out there, it’s a refreshing take on the industry.
Plus “Sabotaging” the Nazi’s has never been so much fun…
The worded verdict…
The Saboteur is a pretty good game. It isn’t groundbreaking stuff that is implemented like I had mentioned before. But it is interesting. What will probably get people to play the game is the story and the vibrancy it gives off. My opinion? Buy It. Especially now as you read this review, the game is out there a lot cheaper so snatch it when you can.
The Saboteur Fact # 1
Sean Devlin’s character is based off a true war hero by the name of William Grover-Williams. Williams was a race car driver who won the Grand Prix de la Beule 3 years in a row (1931-1933) then turned working for the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) where he fostered and nurtured the beginnings of the French Resistance. He also was in charge of setting up reception committees for incoming parachute operations as well as forming sabotage cells. Williams unfortunately was captured and interrogated on the 2nd of August 1943 and was then sent to Berlin to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. In the spring of 1945, he was executed.
The Saboteur Fact # 2
William Grover-Williams, whose inspiration was for the video game to Sean Devlin, had recruited two other grand prix drivers at the time of his joining with the SOE. Race driver Robert Benoist and Jean-Pierre Wimille. When the war ended, Wimille was the only survivor out of the 3. Benoist was executed on September 11, 1944 at the Buchenwald concentration camp several months after he parachuted a second time into France for his 2nd mission.
The Saboteur Fact # 3
The French resistance was not shy to recruit women in their ranks, even more, women who worked alone. The first of two examples, Madame Lauro. Lauro sabotaged German food supplies by pouring hydrochloric acid and nitric acid in freight cars that were stationed on the French railroads. Though many of her countrymen and women who worked on the railroads were shot after they were caught, Madame Lauro continued her acts of sabotage, working alone and at night. She was never captured.
The 2nd example, is Marie-Madeleine Fourcade, became the head of the most famous resistance network in France, calling themselves the “Alliance Rèseau”. It was one of the very first resistance networks that joined up with the British SOE and gained popular underground notoriety with several other networks. Her codename on the radio waves was “Hedgehog”. Fourcade at some stage was captured. During her capture, with the Gestapo knowing her rank in the French resistance, she was offered to be a double-agent. She promptly refused. Fourcade escaped by squeezing through the prison bars through the window of her cell. After her escape, she joined the brutally infamous guerilla resistance, the “Maquis” where she again had a major role in conducting operations for the SOE in the last days before France was liberated. Fourcade survived the war.