The Saboteur Preview

"This is our most epic game yet," said chief production manager Greg Borrund about Pandemic Studios’ stealth-action sandbox title, The Saboteur. After watching the game in action, I can say that "epic" looks great.

The Saboteur takes a brand new approach to depicting the World War II era in videogames; no longer will players be shooting on the front lines or manning bombers, but instead will be exploring the open-world setting of Nazi-occupied France, defying the Germans and bringing the "will to fight" back to the citizens of Paris and surrounding area.

Through the use of color, The Saboteur represents the relative strength of German influence and occupation in the many neighborhoods of the city, as well as the general sentiment of the French people regarding the fight to repel the Nazi takeover. Areas with little will to fight are desaturated, save for the occasional Nazi flag, environmental objective, or splatter of blood. As the situation improves via the player’s actions, color will return and hopelessness will abate.

While it maintains a fully open-world feel with the option to explore the city and complete "ambient" side missions to improve the state of the nation, the game is at the same time story-driven, with a 15-hour main campaign. The primary objective is to carry out "acts of defiance," which normally entail locating, accessing, and destroying key components (weapons, buildings, etc.) of the German occupation. Each neighborhood will house one major target for story missions and a number of smaller ones that can be dealt with at the player’s leisure.

The game’s protagonist, Shawn, can traverse the city in a number of ways. Like in Assassin’s Creed, he is able to scale any surface or structure that offers proper hand and foot holds, the only concern being where to go, and not how to make it there. Shawn can also hijack a car and take a joyride to wherever he needs to be, or simply walk the city streets, which will approximate Paris’s true layout. Because remaining inconspicuous in the more heavily big-brothered areas is pivotal, however, players will have to be more careful when hoofing it to avoid detection.

Once in the nest of the enemy, performing stealth kills will allow Shawn to move closer to his objectives. After incapacitating a guard, he can assume his victim’s identity by stealing the clothing off his back and proceeding cautiously forward. Getting too close to other enemies or acting suspiciously will expose him, as will finally completing the task, at which point he will have to "loud out" — aka run and gun out of there.

Safehouses dot the city, and as long as the player can reach one undetected, Shawn will be safe from his pursuers, and can resume his anti-Nazi activities in peace. Alternatively, the ex-racecar river can hop in a car and drive out into the countryside and coastal region to lose the tail. The expansive game world includes parts of Germany, as well, but driving in that direction to find shelter would probably be counter-productive.

The Saboteur promises a refreshing look at the seemingly unavoidable World War II subject matter, and will present players with great freedom to explore the game’s open world and experience the story as they please. The highly stylized visual style and "will to fight" premise is very appealing, as well, giving The Saboteur a truly unique identity in the deluge of upcoming titles. Players can look for The Saboteur in Q4 2009.


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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