The Saboteur mixes Call Of Duty WWII history, with Grand Theft Auto freeroaming action, Assassin’s Creed II climbing and a splash of Parisian sauciness. But do its disparate elements mix well? Find out in our The Saboteur review…
In The Saboteur, you play Irish mechanic-turned-driver Sean Devlin. Devlin’s a hard-drinking, womanising, devil-may-care kinda guy until his best friend’s murdered by the Nazis. On his return to occupied Paris, he swears revenge.
Devlin’s saboteur mixes together skills from most of the recent freeroaming action games: on top of the shooting/running/driving of Grand Theft Auto, throw on parkour-influenced climbing (Assassin’s Creed), explosives expertise (Red Faction) and a host of standard stuff everyone does these days (safe houses to lay low in, stealth kills, maps and waypoints, secrets to find, skills upgrades, extra helper units to call in an emergency etc.).
The main difference The Saboteur brings to the usual freeroaming fare is the spectacularly stylised visuals. While you’re in Nazi-occupied Paris, the city’s portrayed in glowering and gloomy black-and-white, with flashes of evil, bloody red. But liberate a section of the city, and as well as the citizenship in that area starting to fight for themselves, that part of the map blooms into technicolour. The contrast between occupied gloom and resistance bright works brilliantly – although the Nazi sections can occasionally be a bit too gloomy to see what you’re actually doing in.
The other addition to take The Saboteur beyond being a mere WWII Grand Theft Auto copycat is an extra splash of ooh-la-la Parisian sauciness. Sadly, the ability to perve over motion-captured and semi-naked burlesque dancers is fairly tame and unnecessary in the era of 24 hour Internet jiggly overload.
Beyond the brilliant visuals and the dubious nipple count, The Saboteur never really settles well. Its worst problems are the climbing and shooting controls feel a bit awkward. But on top of that, the design of missions, Paris rooftops, plot points and the script all feel a bit plonked in – it never grips you in the way a thrilling tale of WWII hard-drinking sabotage should.
That said, The Saboteur does offer some excellent setpieces and plenty of Nazi-bashing action. But overall it never really makes the move from bland black and white to all-colourful out-and-out action brilliance.