Just finished this, wasn’t able to play when it was released because it just didn’t like ati graphics cards at all. Picked it up recently in an origin sale (I know, they actually had one!) and while it still doesn’t seem to work well with ati cards it is playable. Here’s what I thought of it.

The saboteur is a stylish, third person gta style game, set in world war 2 during the occupation of Paris by the Nazis. You play Sean, an Irishman who happens to be a race car driver, making a living in France when the Nazis invade. Why you had to be an Irishman instead of a Frenchman likely has more to do with marketing than any real narrative. Apart from some stereotypical banter between the Englishman and the Scotsman it makes no difference.

Most of the game is set in and around Paris, the city is divided off into districts which gradually become unlocked as you progress through the story. There are some countryside areas around Paris featuring small villages, chateaus and farms or the occasional Nazi rocket silo. The storyline is ok, nothing too memorable but also it allows the action to flow smoothly and there is plenty of action to be had, with various nazi enemies from the typical footsoldiers. Gestapo, officers and generals to the über armoured nazi terror squad that seem to have all the coolest toys.

Your first home base is a Parisian style burlesque theatre, complete with topless women (if you disable the pasties) with both Parisians and nazis taking time off to enjoy the culture. You can even go to the private area and see some of the performers put on some dances for you. While this is mildly titillating it remains respectable and never over steps the bounds of taste.

Climbing across the rooftops is fairly well done, although I did find myself occasional falling to my doom because Sean didn’t grab what i was expecting him to or I was fighting with him to grab the right ledge instead of just any ledge while I was being shot at. It was frustrating at times but often even when you make mistakes the game is forgiving with Sean being able to absorb quite a bit of punishment before dying.

The districts each have a ton of destructible Nazi locations, these are often repeated throughout the map such as anti air turrets, public address speakers and sniper watchtowers. If you are really dedicated you can get all of them in each district, after 42 hours of gameplay I had about 77% if that’s any indication of how many there are.

You can destroy Nazi objectives in various ways, the most common is by planting explosives, at first you get timed dynamite and later you unlock a remote detonated version. Sometimes you can use a vehicle with a bomb in or you can also take advantage of the conveniently placed explosive barrels and fuel tanks to blow them up by using a grenade or shooting them.

Sean can also get into a fist fight with Nazis or stealth kill them and steal their uniforms for a disguise. This is handled well and can often be a powerful aid to completing a mission or getting in and out to plant explosives, without being seen. The range of weapons is decent although as you progress each new weapon is clearly better than the previous one so there never seems much point to go back to older guns.

I encountered a pretty horrid bug in the gameplay, graphics related though. It seems during the only time trial race in the game, the designers failed to pick up on the fact if the road ahead wasn’t loaded fast enough your game would freeze while it finished loading. Unfortunately the timer to complete the race did not take this into account and several times I failed to finish the race due to this graphical lag while the race timer continued to countdown during the freeze. My system is easily capable of running the game but still I was forced to lower graphics settings to get through the time trial. It seems for whatever reason the game prefers to load buildings and pedestrians ahead of roads so you often see holes in the roads ahead when driving particularly fast. It could be the ati card issue still, no idea if it’s also a problem for Nvidia cards.

Another issue I had, was the broken map, it featured a city map and then an overlay, which was forever out of alignment so when I wanted to go somewhere Instead of looking at the map I just had to guesstimate it. It wasn’t a game breaker thankfully due to mission paths highlighted but it probably stopped me going where I wanted a few times between missions. Again, possibly a driver issue but definitely something to consider a minus. There are also some rather blatant invisible walls around the world which are rather disappointing when you encounter them.

Sean can unlock bronze, silver and gold perks for doing different tasks, such as killing five nazis by throwing them off somewhere high up you unlock the ability to stealth kill. Or by getting two kills with one sniper bullet a number of times you unlocked a special sniper rifle. These were often a good advantage to gameplay and not impossible to achieve so were a boon to the gameplay as a whole.

Vehicles don’t quite handle right, their weighting seems a little off, with tanks and trucks often sliding about and other vehicles being about as solid as a wall when you hit them even at high-speed. The vehicles themselves look good and there is a decent selection of fast cars and city workhorses in the form of Parisian citizen vehicles. The Nazi selection of vehicles are also interesting and varied although I never felt the benefit of the vehicles with machineguns mounted on them as they were impossible to use quickly, having to stop and exit the vehicle then manually re-enter from the gunners position. I felt this would have been enhanced by the option to swap seats within the vehicle.

Nazi controlled areas of Paris are black and white in appearance and as you progress through the missions you gradually return colour to each district as a symbol of Nazi occupation being pushed back. I thought this was an inspired artistic choice and helped to enhance the gloom of oppression where it featured.

Overall I think The Saboteur is an ok game with some neat touches, notably the excellent music and decision by the developer to keep the game fun rather than difficult. Unfortunately, it still has enough flaws to keep it from every being great and if you like your games to challenge you, this probably won’t hit the spot.

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