The Saboteur

The Saboteur Review for Xbox 360

On: Xbox 360PS3PC

Stealth action title set during WWII.

Review Verdict Read Review
8Out of 10
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There's an achievement/trophy involving this girl called, "A Pint and a Shag".
There's an achievement/trophy involving this girl called, "A Pint and a Shag".

There's an achievement/trophy involving this girl called, "A Pint and a Shag".

By anyone's standards, Sean is a versatile gaming hero. He can drive any vehicle he finds, he can punch the crap out of people (using the aforementioned light/heavy/kick system) and he can handle a gun (via a free-aim system that will be familiar to anyone who's played the Mercenaries games - or indeed any other third-person shooter). He can also scale walls and other vertical surfaces using a simple, one-button-does-everything arrangement - think Assassin's Creed, but with slower, less flashy animations. By holding the right bumper, Sean will go into a stealthy crouch that lets him take out Nazis from behind; these silent kills also allow him to adopt his victim's uniform. Once disguised, he can walk straight into heavily-guarded areas - although you'll still trigger an alarm if you behave strangely, or if you let your foes get too close.

On their own, these abilities give Sean a wide range of tactical options when he approaches a job - but these raw skills are further supported by a neat Perks system. By completing trios of pre-set goals, you'll open up further tricks and tools relating to different gameplay aspects: score a number of head-shots with a sniper rifle, and your aim will improve; kill a certain number of foes with grenades, and you'll be able to carry more of them. These tasks start off being relatively simple, but the third-stage perks will usually demand a hefty chunk of gaming skill. Similarly, your rewards increase in complexity until Sean eventually becomes a one-man Resistance Movement - summoning getaway cars and rebel fighters at the touch of a button. It's easy to get fixated on these challenges, and when you do finally get your prize they'll often allow you to try new strategies for dealing with the German menace.

As addictive as the perk goals are, it's the bread-and-butter sabotage that proves to be the real distraction. The world of The Saboteur is divided up into several interconnected areas - Paris takes up most of the map, but you also get quite a bit of surrounding countryside, and even a slither of Germany. In each of these regions there are literally hundreds of Nazi structures and emplacements - from watchtowers to searchlights to propaganda-spewing speakers. All of these assets can be destroyed with a well-placed stick of dynamite, and every time you destroy one you'll earn contraband - currency that can be spent on weapon upgrades. You'll be on your way to a mission objective when you suddenly spot a Nazi fuel deport. You know that you should push on with the job at hand, and yet before you know it you'll be crouched on the floor with a fuse in your hand. Five seconds later there's a big bang, and you're back on the run again. As you gradually clean up a particular area, you'll see colour starting to seep back into the game world, and there are other bonuses too: fewer Germans patrol in these areas, making it easier to escape any pursuers you might have, and some of the locals will even help you out if you get into a fight.

There's something quite affecting about driving from a colourful area into a monochrome district where the Nazis go unchallenged, and it would be easy to spend a whole afternoon clearing out your favourite parts of Paris. That's not to say that the core missions are drab or uninteresting; on the whole, your jobs are well-designed and diverse in their demands. You can often choose whether to go in guns blazing or to take a more sneaky approach, and when the game does ramp up the thrill factor - dumping you in the cockpit of a tank, or forcing you to chase a sworn enemy through the flaming hull of an airship - you'll find yourself getting swept up into the plot, despite yourself.

Indeed, if you were to slow down for too long, you might start to dwell on the game's shortcomings. The phrase "Jack of all trades, master of none," is certainly applicable here, and from time to time you may find yourself irritated by the sluggish driving controls, the dopey enemy AI, or the occasional lack of a checkpoint. But even when something does get on your nerves, it's rarely long before something else comes along to pique your interest again: an amusingly cheesy cutscene, a landmark that demands to be climbed, or a Nazi general who's just aching to be neck-snapped.

If you saw any of the early promotional trailers for this game, you may remember a clip that was cut to the svelte tones of Nina Simone, as she sung Feeling Good. Well, that track has been included here - along with several other excellent jazz numbers that play whenever you enter a vehicle. The thing is, that song was recorded in 1965 - over 20 years after World War II ended. It's inclusion makes no sense at all, and yet the tune itself is a perfect match for the tone of the game. It's this winning contradiction, more than a pair of polygon breasts, that truly sums up The Saboteur. Pandemic Studios may be no more, but at least we can say that the boys went out on a high note.

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15 Comments

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El-Dev's Avatar

El-Dev

It's not the greatest game in the world but it's a pretty good romp. Some of the dialogue is brilliant!
Posted 18:33 on 13 January 2010
Clockpunk's Avatar

Clockpunk

It's not brilliant, true, but burlesque, good music and killing nazis automatically raises a game's score to at least a minimum of 7! Everything else is just gravy. ;)
Posted 13:12 on 13 January 2010
rbevanx's Avatar

rbevanx@ El-Dev

Bad as Transformers 2?

YouTube Video
Posted 12:36 on 13 January 2010
El-Dev's Avatar

El-Dev

The voice acting in this game is terrible. Possibly some of the biggest stereotypes I've ever heard!
Posted 12:35 on 13 January 2010
clangod's Avatar

clangod

Yep, I'm sold. I'm disappointed to hear that it's visual polish is a bit lax. It appears to rely heavily on the Sin Cityesque transition of environments which in itself is very appealing. Gonna get this one for sure.
Posted 20:13 on 07 December 2009
jakeistheman's Avatar

jakeistheman

pandemic you will be missed. Great review might pick this up in January.
Posted 12:33 on 04 December 2009
Wido's Avatar

Wido@ mydeaddog

Indeed I suppose you are right about the missions and etc.

Cheers by the way :)
Posted 10:43 on 04 December 2009
mydeaddog's Avatar

mydeaddog

I think that it does get a tad repetitive to an extent, but I also think that's a common trait of open world games. GTA IV and Assassin's Creed games both feature lots of repetition, but the real question is whether you enjoy the core action or not. If you enjoy the core activities, it's less of an issue (in my opinion).

The Saboteur was a weird one to review; I liked it far more than I expected to. As the article says, it's far from a perfect game - and yet I somehow got rather caught up in it.
Posted 10:10 on 04 December 2009
Wido's Avatar

Wido

Sounds awesome! Great review Neon.

Question to you Neon.

Did you feel that the game was getting repetitive or is going to be repetitive over a period of time?
Posted 20:16 on 03 December 2009
pblive's Avatar

pblive

Nice review Neon. Might just get this when I can.
Posted 20:15 on 03 December 2009
GeNeCyDe1993's Avatar

GeNeCyDe1993

Hope to pick it up cheaper in a couple of weeks, good review Neon!
Posted 20:02 on 03 December 2009
Karlius's Avatar

Karlius

Great review Neon i'm expecting a major price drop on this game around a week before crimbo at an online retailer such as play I hope to pick it up then.
Posted 19:35 on 03 December 2009
rbevanx's Avatar

rbevanx

Sounds really good esspecially when Neon mentions about it looking like a "1940's Sin City" with the jazz music of that time as well in the game (well 60's is close enough lol).
I find it odd that game makers are making their mainstream games more adult, I think Mass Effect started it all.
Well it's taken me longer than I expected to sort my flat out, so I still have Uncharted 2 and AC2 to play on.
I will have to get this in the new year but I'm looking forward to playing it going by this review.

BTW Great review Neon (As always)
Posted 17:28 on 03 December 2009
El-Dev's Avatar

El-Dev

More games should have characters called Devlin in them.
Posted 17:21 on 03 December 2009
thpcplayer's Avatar

thpcplayer

bye pandemic...........................
I am getting this for sure . Cant wait 4 tommorow
Posted 17:19 on 03 December 2009

Game Stats

Technical Specs
The Saboteur
8
Out of 10
The Saboteur
  • Lots to do
  • Varied gameplay
  • Good use of an interesting setting
  • Doesn't really excel at anything
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 04/12/2009
Platforms: Xbox 360 , PS3 , PC
Developer: Pandemic Studios
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: Stealth
No. Players: One
Rating: BBFC 15
Site Rank: 1,518
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