Friday, December 11, 2009

The Saboteur

Love has played another game, and this time it's The Saboteur by Pandemic Studios.
You play as Devlin the Irish-man (as he will let you know a couple of times during play) who has to choose sides in the war when... well I won't spoil it for ya, but he is drawn into the conflict against his will anyway. The game takes place in Paris during WWII where you help the french resistance against the evil Nazis, also known as Krauts. The ingame Paris is an actual copy of Paris as it looked in those times. I can't validate it's exactness of course, but Pandemic at least claim to have tried.

One could start out with simply saying The Saboteur is a great game. You don't really need to know more than that and should try it right away if you're interested in sand-box-sneaky-games. It's like a cross-breed of Hitman and GTA, mixing the undercover-stealth-disguise-murder part of Hitman with the free-roaming-do-as-I-please from GTA. There are of course missions to work through, but you are always free to run off and do something else, as long as you keep inside Paris city walls.
Devlin is a kick-ass wall-climber/cat-burglar and can with ease get around Paris roof-mileu to get where he wants. The "saboteur" part of the game includes blowing things up, sneaking behind people to stealth-kill them and disguising as nazis. For being a "stealth"-game it's not very stealthy. In some games like Thief, going face-to-face with the baddies could become a real problem. This isn't an issue in The Saboteur and chosing to go right into combat instead of sneaking behind works just as well, if not better in some instances.
The graphics are ok and do what they should to help your sneakiness. The AI isn't bright but not so stupid as to make it boring when you outwit them. You can tell you're playing against a script but since the AI isn't the only obstacle to success the game still offers some challenge. Devlin and the characters around him are believable although the storyline feels more of an excuse to get to blow some tanks and buildings. Nothing wrong with that. Devlin is also not one of them silent types who let everyone else comment the surrounding but has a real persona behind him. Now whether you like that persona or not I (and Love) usually prefer characters with some own life to them (Tidus being a huge exeption).

The game is huge playtime wise but not so big areawise. You've got entire Paris to play in, sure, but it does feel a little crammed after a while. The overall good thing about the game is its lack of flaws. It provides the right amount of challenge without hindering the player due to silly or stupid mechanics. Most importantly the whole wall-climbing-sneaking business works without any troubles. Devlin rarely throws himself out onto a street face-first instead of grabbing that window-sill. The weapons arsenal is good with its standard array of most things from small guns to snipers to grenades. As in every other game in this genre some weapons are better than others, but at least there are plenty to choose from to find one owns favorite.
One really strange thing though is that you can't change game graphics inside the game but have to go into a config file and rewrite the code. It's not difficult but a strange way to have to do it.

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