The Saboteur Updated Impressions

After two years of quiet, EA Pandemic gives us a look at its stylish take on World War II action.

The best saboteurs are those who remain hidden until the ideal moment to wreak havoc presents itself. The Saboteur, EA and Pandemic's unique take on World War II action, has certainly done a good job abiding by the former half of that statement. We first saw the game just over two years ago, but it's been all quiet on the western front since then. With the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo on the horizon, however, EA recently took the time to lift the veil off The Saboteur and give us a look at how things have progressed in the interim.

The world around you begins in black and white, though you'll slowly bring color to it all.

Even under a historical backdrop that we've seen time and time again, it's hard not to be at least cautiously optimistic about The Saboteur. Much of that comes from what Pandemic is looking to do differently with the World War II setting. Rather than playing as an unnamed soldier in the heat of a massive battle, you'll instead take the role of an Irish racecar driver named Sean Devlin taking part in a resistance movement in Nazi-occupied France. You'll sneak about the city and countryside while sabotaging various aspects of the Nazi regime in order to chip away at the effectiveness of their control over the region. You're not trying to win the war by yourself; you're just doing what you can to bring hope to the local population.

It's in the way that hope is depicted that gives The Saboteur its most striking characteristic. The game begins almost entirely in black and white, save for a few splotches of color, such as the red of Nazi flags and yellow streetlights. As you might expect, the 2005 movie Sin City was a big source of inspiration for this visual effect. As time goes on, you'll bring color to the world as you successfully complete various missions. Pandemic calls this gauge the "will to fight" in a particular region. The way it works is that the more vibrant the color in a certain neighborhood, the higher the local population's resistance to the occupying Nazi forces. It's a neat effect when you see it in motion.

The Saboteur is an open-world sandbox game, so you're given some freedom to go about painting the world how you like. We had the chance to see a pair of story missions, one from early in the game and one from quite a bit later. The first mission had Sean infiltrating a German auto factory before hightailing it through the countryside and across the French border. The mission required a combination of stealth, brute gunplay, and agile climbing to get the job done. Our hero first had to sneak into the facility, silently take down a few Germans from behind, and find himself a gun. After that, it was on to a more straightforward style of third-person action that used cover-based gun combat and close-quarters melee attacks. While the gunplay appeared fairly ordinary, seeing Sean sneak up to an enemy, lift him up, and toss him over a tall ledge was especially thrilling. In addition, there's a lot of verticality to these levels, as evidenced by one chunk of the action that had Sean climbing a giant neon sign to get a better vantage point of his surroundings.

Though Sean isn't a soldier, he'll still shed plenty of blood.

The Pandemic rep guiding our demo then skipped a little bit forward in the mission to where Sean has finished his primary task and thus needs to make an escape across the border. It's up to you how to do that, but the game gives you a handy tip by displaying a red arrow above the first car you see upon exiting the facility. You could choose to run through the villages and farmland separating you from the border, but a brisk drive in a car gives you the chance to plow through any and all Nazi soldiers stationed along the way.

Once in Paris, we were shown a bit of the city as Sean drove around in a sleek fictional racecar known as the Morini Aurora. The Saboteur's version of Paris isn't nearly as big or true to life as, say, Grand Theft Auto IV's New York-inspired Liberty City, but rather it's a compressed locale that uses all the major landmarks to serve as sights to help you get around. For example, you'll know you're in the north end of the right bank when you see the Sacre Coeur Basilica perched atop a nearby hill, and so on. The atmosphere aims to be period-specific, too, so you'll see Nazis harassing civilians in the streets and brothels that double as resistance-safe havens.

The next mission we saw required Sean to fight across the Paris rooftops in order to destroy a nearby cannon being used by the Nazis. There was quite a bit of ranged shooting in this section, with all the space separating Sean from enemy soldiers. When not picking off Nazis from afar, Sean then had to leap from roof to roof, taking cover behind chimneys and climbing up windows whenever his path to the cannon required it. Finally, he made it and planted a charge on the cannon, blowing the thing up and flushing the immediate surroundings with vibrant color.

As a sandbox game, you'll spend a good deal of time driving around Paris.

So far, it looks like EA Pandemic has got the right idea about how to breathe a little life back into World War II games: show the conflict from a different perspective. We're eager to see how the game turns out and whether the gameplay--which, in terms of combat, doesn't look too out of the ordinary--can eventually manage to feel as unique as the game's story and visuals. No release date has been announced yet, but we'll be sure to have more coverage in the coming months.

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179 comments
fero4real
fero4real

well for me it looks interesting im still not totally convinced i need to know more before i go out and get it

ferntfactor
ferntfactor

yeah, i do want it to be great. can't beat the WW2 setting for me, but i thought that game play video looked pretty campy...

guerillaKZ2
guerillaKZ2

i don't know i'm certainly not sold on the game yet but it might be worth the $60

ferntfactor
ferntfactor

and thunderhorse55: i get the black and white thing. old movie. 1940s. color when you do good, a la wizard of oz. sha. then the rest shouldn't be so cheesy.

ferntfactor
ferntfactor

like the Paris location, but looking and smelling fromage-like. love the screen shot of the saboteur propping up his machine gun while resting his foot on a nazi officer he just smoked and getting all sexy-like with the dead guy's babe. she gets so horny at the sight of bullet riddled bodies. WW2 provides an amazing story line. it doesn't need to be tarted up.

jaster333
jaster333

yet ANOTHER ww2 shooter *sigh* it got old when they releced cod waw

dijji497
dijji497

I reckon it looks really good, but I just know that it probably wont score that high or sell that well either, although Im still gonna buy it anyway.

dandalong07
dandalong07

Game looks pretty awesome, I'm looking forward to it.

thunderhorse55
thunderhorse55

@ferntfactor: they look pretty sweet to me. and if you're referring to the dull surroundings, they're supposed to be like that, in case you didn't read the full preview.

thunderhorse55
thunderhorse55

i really hope this is gonna be rated T, but from the looks of that second picture, it might be an M rated deal. *sigh* oh well

thunderhorse55
thunderhorse55

@ ferntfactor: they look pretty sweet to me. if you're referring to the dull surroundings, its supposed to be like that, in case you didn't read the full preview

ferntfactor
ferntfactor

hmmm. it is a neat storyline, but the graphics don't look the greatest. will have to wait n see.

tank_builder
tank_builder

i wonder what the ESRB rating will be. it'll probably be M, out of my range.

GeneralJoe21
GeneralJoe21

Looks good, though this article gave me the impression that they took out the part about him avenging his friends mentioned in the last preview, I hope they didn't, it adds a nice aspect to it.

Olde-Fashund
Olde-Fashund

I wish we knew how big the full map will be... Oh well, wishing won't get us anywhere. I can't wait :)

opendrol
opendrol

Looks like things are getting better.

ky9
ky9

Finally! A WW2 game that's about an actual story with an actual character instead of Generic Soldier Man in some Generic Game called "_______ of ______".

Assassin--
Assassin--

Made me cry a little.. One small step for gaming... One giant leap for Pandemic...

NoLifeGamin
NoLifeGamin

YES finally a WW2 game where dumb nazis dont just run all over the place and get pwned...BY ME! but Sean in this game sounds like a WW2 version of Agent 47 from Hitman...so this should be at LEAST decent enough to not puke sh*t all over the place

Granpire
Granpire

I wouldn't be so quick to judge, what we really need right now in the gaming world is something different.

Blood_Diamond
Blood_Diamond

it's gunna dive, EA games just lately have a good way of letting you down

Cspliff61
Cspliff61

this game looks great, i cant wait to get in to it

allotheabove123
allotheabove123

on second thought i think that they should just focus on the story mode no multiplayer

Doolz2024
Doolz2024

@jagus: well, you're still doing that in this game, just in a different way from other WWII games...

jagus12
jagus12

FINALLY! A game related the WWII that doesnt throw you in the war saying "KILL NAZIS!"

Doolz2024
Doolz2024

great concept. nice to see Pandemic going for something new in the WWII setting. As we all know, the CoD series, BiA, MoH, etc has overdone WWII conflicts to the point where I think most people don't even care anymore. this however, while in a WWII setting, is a completely different take on WWII. props for them attempting something new in an all too familiar setting. I'm looking forward to the stealth gameplay, and hopefully the gunplay will be a bit more than "ordinary" as GS is claiming by the time the game is out. I'm adding this game to my tracked list now. I really think The Saboteur has some potential here with it's concept, and this preview is very positive. I'm looking forward to more info on this game, as well as a release date in the future :)

allotheabove123
allotheabove123

they could have a really interesting multiplayer component in this game because of the setting like a few heavily armed nazis protecting a target like a cannon and more less armed resistance fighters trying to blow it up

0564100902
0564100902

looks like GOD FATHER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The_unKnwn
The_unKnwn

wow these images made me change my mind a bit.... looks like im getting this

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

pidow
pidow

I think I want to play this one.

alltechz
alltechz

ive been following this game for so long, cant wait!!

deeper_crust
deeper_crust

Looks really good and a very different plot!

LeJR
LeJR

By some of the screenshots, it almost looks like a WWII version of Assassin's Creed. This really looks cool, I hope it is a great game.

Erik729
Erik729

Sandbox? Eh. I'm tired of city-sandbox games. Who knows, maybe this one will surprise me. When I first heard about it a couple years ago I was really excited and thought the art looked really great, but as for the gameplay...we'll see.

starduke
starduke

About time some WW2 games were coming out that don't have you be some generic soldier. This one sounds great. I love the car in the screen shot. The red n white one, of course. Putting a monkey wrench into the Nazi works sounds fun.

gamer_snake
gamer_snake

I want to play this game, it looks great.

jakez9
jakez9

when is this coming out?????

simonsworld
simonsworld

this very intresting i all most have goosebumps,dont fail me EA!

dannyboy100
dannyboy100

Strange to have an Irish race car driver in the french resistance, what wrong with a frenchman. Especially when you consider Irelands slightly dubious relationship with the Nazis.

farigor
farigor

Sounds good.. I hope it'll not be like Godfathers mess