Before Electronic Arts shut down Pandemic Studios in 2009, they released one last game: The Saboteur. Set in World War II, the player fills the shoes of hard-drinking Irish car mechanic Sean Devlin (based on Allied spy William Grover-Williams) who fights to liberate 1940s Paris from Nazi occupation forces. So how does Pandemic Studios’s The Saboteur fare compare to the plethora of World War II games out there?
Well, besides killing Nazis and sabotaging their installations, the game transforms Paris into a veritable sandbox that can be explored with a decent parkour and climbing system for scaling any building! Also, there’s some nudity DLC if you bought the game. The Saboteur himself uses various bombs, mainly timed dynamite, to blow up guard towers and missile batteries. To enter a restricted area, the player can silently subdue an enemy, take his clothes, and infiltrate. However, the guards will usually blow Sean’s cover almost immediately.
The game beautifully reproduces 1930s/1940s Paris, though this isn’t immediately obvious with Nazi-occupied areas being saturated in blacks and whites to show the oppressive, hopeless atmosphere of a dominated Paris. Destroying Nazi equipment, assassinating Nazi personnel, and completing missions will “liberate” each district, causing colors to literally erupt across the zone. Unfortunately, the missions lack much variety beyond sabotage, infiltration, and assassinations, so exploring a colorful City of Lights will require patience. On the bright side, the player can listen to a multitude of catchy 1930s tunes on Sean’s car radio.
Most in-game characters are poorly developed and have very bad accents with Sean coming off as a crude Irish stereotype, despite a few charming moments. Also, while the plot often fails to create a compelling story, the game ends very strongly with an effective buildup and execution that few modern games can rival. The Saboteur seems to take elements from stealth games like Assassin’s Creed and sandbox-oriented games like Grand Theft Auto to create a fairly new, yet familiar experience. The amazing ending, lovely depiction of Paris, and immersive music selection allow the game to overcome its flaws and stand above many of its peers.