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Hands on: The Saboteur

November 9, 2009, Author: Andy Corrigan

One game that I didn’t expect to be at the Eurogamer Expo was EA and Pandemic’s ‘The Saboteur’, which I stumbled upon late into the second day of the event. This is a title that proved to me that lazy preconceptions can be a funny thing. I must shamefully admit that from my previous and limited investigation into the title I was expecting the game to be a tense, level-structured stealth ‘em up, which would have been fine; I love stealth games. What I actually got was a WW2 flavoured sandbox shooter, and boy was it a lot of fun.

The demo kicked off with our heroic Irishman, Sean Devlin, tied to a chair and being beaten by a German soldier somewhere in Paris. As the soldier turns his back a somehow-now-free Sean brutally snaps his neck, lights up a cigar, and it’s here that control is turned over to the player. The game is presented in a gorgeous noir style; it’s portrayed in black and white with the only other predominant colour being red. Fans of movies such as Sin City will know this look well and appreciate the stark contrast it provides. This unique look (in videogame terms at least) doesn’t just create an effective atmosphere, but actually acts as a metaphor for how oppressed the world is under Nazi regime. As you help to liberate certain areas, the colour begins to return; a very clever premise I’m sure you’ll agree.

My initial preconception was still very much intact here at this point, as under the belief that I was in a contained level I started to stealthily work my way through the building eliminating unsuspecting Nazis, breaking necks and the like. Early on however, I acquired an enemy machine gun, and found that my only way through was to shoot my way out. The shooting mechanic is fluid and natural, and the cover system employed worked extremely well. It was at this point an EA rep leaned over my shoulder to ask what I thought and said that everyone else had been calling it a ‘GTA Clone’. I think my response was along the lines of a disbelieving ‘Whaaa?!’, as I looked at him as if he was on crystal meth. Suffice to say that I was about to see exactly where he was coming from.

Talk about Luck Of The Irish...

Talk about Luck Of The Irish...

As I battled my way out of the Nazi occupied building my objective was to get to a car, and as I entered the vehicle it was here that it dawned on me; ‘this is an open world game’. My next objective was to rush across town to rescue someone that Sean apparently knew. The handling of the car isn’t what you’d call realistic, but smooth and enjoyable nonetheless. As I sped down the various roads, I became aware of a circle surrounding my position on the mini-map. Just like GTA4, when the Nazis are after you there is a radius of awareness that you must escape. Get spotted and the circle resets. Safely at my destination I was forced out of the car thanks to a roadblock. Here, soldiers with flamethrowers were torching the building that I was supposed to reach. I took them out one by one and saved a civilian from being executed, as he told me that his wife was trapped in the building. Here I was subject to the dangers of the environment as I had to navigate the burning building towards the trapped woman. After saving her, the demo ended.

So, I expected one thing, got another, but what I got was in no-way a disappointment. It’s looking a very smooth and robust experience even on this early build; however I have to say that while enjoyable and graceful in execution, it did very little that was truly remarkable. I would love to see the game incorporate more of the stealth elements that it seemed it would initially include Write MY Essay – WritingPaper.Org, and only time will tell how much of that will be a factor. Either way it’s a game that surprised me in more ways that one, and I’ll be keeping a beady eye on it when it gets released this holiday season.