We’ll bet that The Saboteur is a curio for gamers, at best. At a recent EA event, we were able to get hands-on with the game, and the pessimistic consensus of all the journalists deemed it an impossible sell.
We disagree – the problem with The Saboteur is that it doesn’t conform to everyone’s expectations of what a World War II title should be. That’s exactly why we’re on-board with this beautiful, detailed and interesting open world project. Pandemic is showing us that World War II doesn’t just have to be about faceless heroes racking up an unrealistic kill count on D-Day.
Pandemic’s lead designer, Tom French, is clearly a passionate creator – though he sounds exhausted when we ask him how long the developer has been working on The Saboteur. “By the time we’re done, it’ll be five years. Yeah, that’s crazy. It blows my mind. It’s all new tech, it’s not Mercenaries tech. Making a new IP, making a new story – it’s a big game. It’s a lot of work to fill this world out.” To put that in perspective, X360 didn’t even exist when work on The Saboteur began.
Getting all the elements to work in harmony was worth the effort, however – the sticky cover and controls stand-up well next to the majority of third-person shooters and the AI is cunning enough, convincingly moving in and out of cover to gain the advantage. The driving felt intuitive, if a little stiff, though we suppose the period setting explains this. The city of Paris is certainly where the greatest appeal lies, however, with the music and detailed civilian behaviour selling the exaggerated historical context exceptionally well.
We’re not going to understate it: when French drives out of the black-and-white city into the countryside, it’s a staggering transition, as the comic book veneer is instantly replaced with watercolour-like, stunning surroundings. Visual style is just one of the many aspects The Saboteur has on its side: as much attention deserves to be paid to the decent execution of platforming, driving and shooting, not to mention the progression-based perks and overall wonderful construction of this 5.5×5.5km open world. We’re dying to have more time with it.