The Saboteur Preview
The internet can save its collective "oh, another World War II game" groan when referencing The Saboteur. Unlike other WWII titles, this one's different. You're not in control of an American, or an Englishman, a rebelling Nazi, or even a Russian. In a WWII videogame first, you're running around controlling an Irishman. And this particular Irishman isn't even a trained operative, agent, or military recruit - he's just an average guy on a personal quest to fulfill a vendetta against the Nazis.
As I just mentioned, unlike other WWII games, this vendetta stems from a personal issue that isn't war related. You're not fighting as a man of honor, but as a professional race car driver. You will take on the roll of Sean Devlin, and all throughout Paris and parts of German, you will eradicate the Nazi control of various towns. If you've seen some videos and images of the game, you've noticed it's black and white in some places, and color in others. The black and white areas represent a portion of the game's world that are still under Nazi control and presence, where as the colored areas represent cities with no more oppression and people walking about freely.
So as you play the game, the world evolves from a desolate environment that is overrun with Germans, to a bustling environment where people walk around happily and peacefully. The guys at Pandemic call this a game with an Indiana Jones twist. And we certainly saw some of the similarities, as you have the ability to utilize weaponry, as well as scale your environments, by climbing up virtually everything you see in the game. In fact, the interaction between you and the environment is so grand that you can actually scale the Eiffel Tower and reach its very top.
Now, mission structure is much of what you've probably played in other games. But your approach can vary in three different ways. You can stealthily sneak in, perhaps by using the rooftops or shadows. Or you can barge your way through by picking up some guns and assaulting everything in sight. Or lastly, you can quietly take an opponent out, steal their uniform, and disguise yourself as the enemy. If you happen to take damage, the game uses a regenerative health system, and if you need to run away and hide, there are specific hiding spots all over the map you can use.
Because Sean Devlin is actually a character loosely based on William Grover-Williams, you can expect to see some similarities in the story as you play through the game. Furthermore, because this is, after all, a race car driver, you can very well expect to use a car all throughout the condensed version of Paris. And the car you use is a 1930s/1940s Formula One-like race-car.
The one thing I didn't find impressive were the graphics. The texture detail was clearly lacking and there were aliasing issues, but I am hoping to chalk it up to an unfinished game, as The Saboteur won't be released until December of 2009.
7/14/2009 Arnold Katayev