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Off the Beaten Path: The Saboteur (PC)

It was a dark and stormy night...

This week I decided to take a look at The Saboteur. It slipped under a lot of people’s radars when it first came out back in 2009.

Platform: PC, XBox 360, PlayStation 3
Developer: Pandemic Studios
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: Action Adventure/Open World
Available on: Amazon
Release Date: December 8, 2009

The Saboteur is  an open world game of destruction, similar to Just Cause 2 or Red Faction Guerrilla, set in World War II France during the peak of resistance in Paris. You play as Sean, an Irishman who just happened to be in France while the war was breaking out.

As soon as I start it up I am greeted by some old jazz music, a dark rainy street, and cold miserable looking people walking past a place of “entertainment”. Red Nazi flags stand out in contrast to the grey toned setting. The game’s atmosphere is immediately rich and interesting. Even details like calling the hard setting, “feckin’ hard”, in the menu adds to the game’s overall mood. Ten minutes into the game and I want the soundtrack. The game’s tone reminds me Inglorious Bastards, which is an extreme compliment.

Run Sean, Run!

Tone

Certain areas of the game are in black and white. This effect makes the game feel very period appropriate, and it also reflects whether the area has been freed from the Nazis yet. Oppressed areas are darker and have no color, and once you free an area the color comes back. Wow, that’s really meta. I can see some gamers not understanding the symbolism they used, but I’ll go over that more later.

They don’t hold back with the boobs in this game. Your initial base of operations is hidden inside essentially a brothel, and all the girls walk around topless. By default they all have nice little tassels covering up the naughty bits, but the menu allows you to remove these.

The game looks its best when it’s dark and gritty. The bright and colorful scenery is decent, but you can tell they spent more time with the dark stuff. This game definitly isn’t much of a looker, and it screams out that it was developed for consoles in mind.

Sean, an Irish badass who just happens to enjoy killing Nazis.

Story

You might be wondering, “Why the heck is there an Irishman in France?” I was thinking the same thing. Turns out that he’s here as a race car driver. He has French friends and all that jazz. Interestingly enough a German racer is his rival for the grand prize in an upcoming race. A fight between Sean and the German douche bag leads to Sean being forced to run away, and by chance he just happens to run into an old flame of his.

Sean and his friend decide to pay a visit to their German “friend” and mess up his car a bit. Things go horribly wrong when it turns out that the German dude is really a Nazi. Sean’s friend dies, and Sean becomes royally pissed off with the Nazi’s.

As you can already tell, the story is b-grade, pulp garbage. At times it seems like the game is aware of it’s own cheesiness. Sean is full of witty one liners such as: “In for a penny, in for a fucking pound.”, “I handled a bombshell once; turned out she was married”, and all variety of Irish sounding profanities (His Irish accent is very fake sounding). Most of the time though, the game just acts like any other video game and denies the fact that most of what the characters are saying is a complete load of bunk.

Sean turns out to be a wanted fugitive back in Ireland. He is recruited by the British secret police people to get a box, in return his criminal record is wiped out and he’s given the location for the people who killed his friend. It’s never that easy, and things get complicated. Sean must help liberate Paris from the evil Nazi threat, and help save the free world as we know it. Thankfully I didn’t pick this game for the story.

Keep reading to hear about the gameplay and my rant about dynamic visual feedback in games.

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