by Davneet Minhas, reviewed on
Prancing along the rooftops of Nazi-occupied Paris, I spotted a German general flanked by two bodyguards loitering on the street below. Given that killing Nazi generals grants me extra contraband, I set my Scoped Steiner in line with the general’s head and fired a shot. Before the general hit the ground, I ran to another set of rooftops and hid among the jagged peaks. As the two bodyguards came to attention, a Sturmwagen drove by and deposited three more vigilant and glowing Nazis directly in the middle of traffic.
The Nazis stood perfectly still in an “alert” state with their weapons pointed in all directions, ready for any sign of the assassin. They were completely immersed in their hunt, so much so that when a German transport truck came barreling down the street towards them, they didn’t flinch. Not wanting to harm any soldiers, the truck driver swerved to avoid two of the Nazis… and ran over the third, instantly killing him.
In their constant vigilance, the remaining two soldiers continued to stay perfectly still, not noticing or caring that their comrade had just been murdered. The truck driver maintained a similar attitude – his delivery was just too important to stop and check on the Nazi he had just crushed.
Pandemic Studios’ swansong, The Saboteur, is a massive open-world game full of such conflicting moments. It attempts to maintain an immersive experience by integrating elements of plot, gameplay and artistic design, which it accomplishes most of the time, but a few poor design decisions and bad implementations often break any sense of immersion.
In The Saboteur, you play Sean Devlin, an Irish mechanic turned professional racecar driver turned French resistance fighter in 1940s Paris. He’s a heavy-drinking, chain-smoking, womanizing asshole with vengeance in mind.
Before Germany invaded France, Sean’s impending victory in his first official race was sabotaged by Doppelsieg’s top driver, Kurt Dierker, who went on to claim victory. That sabotage, along with Sean’s recklessness, sparked a series of tragic events that resulted in Sean hiding out in Paris while biding his time before killing Dierker.
The plot can be somewhat hokey. Ridiculous plot devices – the main antagonist is a champion racecar driver who moonlights as a professional torturer for the Nazis – derail all attempts at poignancy, like Sean’s mentor, Vittore, imploring him to stop seeking vengeance. Even so, the one-dimensional yet diverse cast of characters and the resulting secrets, reluctant partnerships and betrayals, manage to keep the narrative slightly interesting. The banter between Sean’s two love-interests is very amusing, and even ancillary characters existing only to provide extra missions are unique, if not well developed. While other French resistance fighters are focused on general sabotage, Margot calls upon Devlin to stop the Nazi war on culture and Dr. Kwong brings a new age of psychological warfare tactics.
While The Saboteur provides a small number of repeating mission types, the game’s plot also ensures that missions similar in structure don’t feel overly repetitive.
How to Take Down a Nazi
The open-world action adventure contains five self-explanatory and recurring mission structures: Tailing an enemy, rescuing allies, chauffeuring allies, sniping targets, and the most general of mission types, blow stuff up.
A massive and great looking world with a unique style
Gameplay that's been done better