Taking Back France With The Saboteur

Posted by Brad (2849 posts) -
The game uses black and white to stark effect.
It's been so long since we'd heard anything about Pandemic's Saboteur, I was beginning to wonder if the game was even still in production. Indeed it is--EA has begun the PR cycle in earnest for this open-world action game set in World War II-era, Nazi-occupied France, which is now known as The Saboteur. That cycle began with a lengthy hands-off demo that showed the visual style, narrative tone, and over-the-top action Pandemic is going for.

You're Sean Devlin, a rough-and-tumble Irishman who starts out as a race car driver in late 1930s Germany. Through a series of early, unfortunate events Pandemic didn't reveal, Devlin gets a tad upset with the Nazis and vows revenge against them. The game then jumps a few years later into wartime France, where Devlin has joined up with the resistance movement to--you guessed it--sabotage the German occupation. If all that sounds like a slightly far-fetched origin story, I should note Devlin is inspired by a real-life badass named William Grover-Williams who did the exact same thing. So there's actually some veracity to this whole race-car-driver-turned-Nazi-saboteur thing.

The first thing you notice when you look at The Saboteur is its stark aesthetic. You'll play large parts of the game almost entirely in black and white, with only certain specific colors highlighted. More often than not the highlighted color is red, very similar to the technique used in Sin City (which Pandemic cites as a major influence on the art style). It's a striking effect; you'll be sneaking your way through some German base with only the bright red of warning lights, swastika-emblazoned Nazi armbands, and spilled blood highlighting the scene. The designers will use this selective coloration to bring the player's attention to important areas of the scene, such as targets you need to destroy or places you need to investigate. Color will also give you an idea of where you've been and what you've done. Areas of Paris where you've completed a lot of missions and subverted the Nazi war effort will rapidly regain their color, to the point where you can stand on a rooftop and literally see which areas of Paris have felt the effects of your efforts and which ones are still under oppression.

The action is explosive and over-the-top.
Vichy France is certainly a grim setting, but nobody will accuse The Saboteur of taking itself too seriously. For one, the game plays fast and loose with its timeline. There will be zeppelins flying over Paris, for instance, even though they'd been decommissioned before the war started--because, let's face it, shooting down a zeppelin with a panzerschrek is fun. Devlin is a snarky, shoot-from-the-hip kind of guy, somewhere between Indiana Jones and Die Hard's John McClane, in Pandemic's own words. The core third-person shooting has got the kind of one-man-army feel to it you'd expect with a character like that; Devlin soaks up bullets via recharging health, gunning down German soldiers and officers with giddy abandon.

Mechanically, The Saboteur borrows lots of established tropes from other games. There's a cover system that snaps you straight to walls and barriers automatically. Devlin is a strong, acrobatic guy; he can climb up building faces and over rooftops as nimbly as Assassin's Creed's Altair. And true to the game's title, there will be plenty of instances where sneaking and stealth kills will get you to your objective with less noise and less danger.

The sample mission I saw involved Devlin blowing up a gigantic artillery gun the Nazis had installed on a building rooftop. (There's that loose interpretation of reality again.) This involved, well, a lot of climbing over rooftops and shooting German soldiers with shotguns and sniper rifles. Pandemic did point out that in this particular mission it would have been an option to steal a disguise and sneak toward the gun instead. In addition to story missions like these, there will be the standard open-world-game side activities. Though, instead of collectible items, per se, you'll be doing things like assassinating important officers or blowing up targets of opportunity instead.

Tough life for a saboteur, huh?
Pandemic's open-world Paris is condensed and simplified; major landmarks are closer together and the overall size of the city is smaller than the real-life version. That lets the designers put more detail into the individual buildings, though, which really look quite nice. Storefronts are modeled out with actual objects behind their windows, and that sort of thing. You should still have room to drive around and explore, though; as a former race-team member, Devlin will have access to some speedy hot rods to drive around the city streets, in addition to other slower, period vehicles.

That tighter focus extends to the game's storyline too. Pandemic says The Saboteur is "not about the war, it's about Sean." I'm tentatively interested to see where that story goes and how the action plays, once we're able to get our own mitts on the game. Open-world games and World War II settings are a dime a dozen these days, but I'm hopeful The Saboteur has enough unique hooks to stand out in the crowd.


Staff
#1 Posted by Brad (2849 posts) -
The game uses black and white to stark effect.
It's been so long since we'd heard anything about Pandemic's Saboteur, I was beginning to wonder if the game was even still in production. Indeed it is--EA has begun the PR cycle in earnest for this open-world action game set in World War II-era, Nazi-occupied France, which is now known as The Saboteur. That cycle began with a lengthy hands-off demo that showed the visual style, narrative tone, and over-the-top action Pandemic is going for.

You're Sean Devlin, a rough-and-tumble Irishman who starts out as a race car driver in late 1930s Germany. Through a series of early, unfortunate events Pandemic didn't reveal, Devlin gets a tad upset with the Nazis and vows revenge against them. The game then jumps a few years later into wartime France, where Devlin has joined up with the resistance movement to--you guessed it--sabotage the German occupation. If all that sounds like a slightly far-fetched origin story, I should note Devlin is inspired by a real-life badass named William Grover-Williams who did the exact same thing. So there's actually some veracity to this whole race-car-driver-turned-Nazi-saboteur thing.

The first thing you notice when you look at The Saboteur is its stark aesthetic. You'll play large parts of the game almost entirely in black and white, with only certain specific colors highlighted. More often than not the highlighted color is red, very similar to the technique used in Sin City (which Pandemic cites as a major influence on the art style). It's a striking effect; you'll be sneaking your way through some German base with only the bright red of warning lights, swastika-emblazoned Nazi armbands, and spilled blood highlighting the scene. The designers will use this selective coloration to bring the player's attention to important areas of the scene, such as targets you need to destroy or places you need to investigate. Color will also give you an idea of where you've been and what you've done. Areas of Paris where you've completed a lot of missions and subverted the Nazi war effort will rapidly regain their color, to the point where you can stand on a rooftop and literally see which areas of Paris have felt the effects of your efforts and which ones are still under oppression.

The action is explosive and over-the-top.
Vichy France is certainly a grim setting, but nobody will accuse The Saboteur of taking itself too seriously. For one, the game plays fast and loose with its timeline. There will be zeppelins flying over Paris, for instance, even though they'd been decommissioned before the war started--because, let's face it, shooting down a zeppelin with a panzerschrek is fun. Devlin is a snarky, shoot-from-the-hip kind of guy, somewhere between Indiana Jones and Die Hard's John McClane, in Pandemic's own words. The core third-person shooting has got the kind of one-man-army feel to it you'd expect with a character like that; Devlin soaks up bullets via recharging health, gunning down German soldiers and officers with giddy abandon.

Mechanically, The Saboteur borrows lots of established tropes from other games. There's a cover system that snaps you straight to walls and barriers automatically. Devlin is a strong, acrobatic guy; he can climb up building faces and over rooftops as nimbly as Assassin's Creed's Altair. And true to the game's title, there will be plenty of instances where sneaking and stealth kills will get you to your objective with less noise and less danger.

The sample mission I saw involved Devlin blowing up a gigantic artillery gun the Nazis had installed on a building rooftop. (There's that loose interpretation of reality again.) This involved, well, a lot of climbing over rooftops and shooting German soldiers with shotguns and sniper rifles. Pandemic did point out that in this particular mission it would have been an option to steal a disguise and sneak toward the gun instead. In addition to story missions like these, there will be the standard open-world-game side activities. Though, instead of collectible items, per se, you'll be doing things like assassinating important officers or blowing up targets of opportunity instead.

Tough life for a saboteur, huh?
Pandemic's open-world Paris is condensed and simplified; major landmarks are closer together and the overall size of the city is smaller than the real-life version. That lets the designers put more detail into the individual buildings, though, which really look quite nice. Storefronts are modeled out with actual objects behind their windows, and that sort of thing. You should still have room to drive around and explore, though; as a former race-team member, Devlin will have access to some speedy hot rods to drive around the city streets, in addition to other slower, period vehicles.

That tighter focus extends to the game's storyline too. Pandemic says The Saboteur is "not about the war, it's about Sean." I'm tentatively interested to see where that story goes and how the action plays, once we're able to get our own mitts on the game. Open-world games and World War II settings are a dime a dozen these days, but I'm hopeful The Saboteur has enough unique hooks to stand out in the crowd.


Staff
#2 Posted by Osaladin (2503 posts) -

I'm liking the style so far, hope this game delivers, Mercenaries 2 was a let down.

#3 Posted by Scooper (7882 posts) -

I'm really digging the art style of this game.

#4 Posted by JJOR64 (18784 posts) -

That game looks pretty awesome so far.  Now I hope it doesn't disappoint.

#5 Posted by Luberik (129 posts) -

this looks good at first. The style, the details in graphs looks excellent. Now, let's hope they can make this game unique.

#6 Posted by Pie (6936 posts) -

Im not gonna get my hopes up becuase of the whole pandemic thing.

#7 Posted by dQuarters (178 posts) -

This game has always interested me (despite it's WW2ness). Glad it hasn't fallen by the wayside. Could turn out to be a great game. Certainly a great LOOKING game.

#8 Posted by Cynical_M (383 posts) -

I'll be keeping my eyes on this.

#9 Posted by erinfizz (1048 posts) -

Gah, that naked chick picture is bothering me. Garter belts have straps front and back to hold up hose, not one on the side to better show off one's ass. :)

#10 Posted by Joshua (26 posts) -
"Gah, that naked chick picture is bothering me. Garter belts have straps front and back to hold up hose, not one on the side to better show off one's ass. :)"

/second       Front / back how it should be looks a bit more sexy too, IMO.  
#11 Posted by FoxMulder (1568 posts) -

Finally a good looking free-roaming game that takes place in Paris!!!  I hope Pandemic doesn't mess this one up like they did with Mercs 2, such a letdown that game was :(

#12 Posted by Blinck (185 posts) -

Looks very interesting!!

#13 Posted by Laticsfan (596 posts) -

Completly forgot about this game, now i'm totally stoked can't wait and I hope it is much better than Mercs 2

#14 Posted by ElectricHaggis (630 posts) -

This is one of the few WWII games I think I could find interesting in this day and age.  I just hope there is a lot of stealth-focused gameplay, to prevent it from becoming a generic third-person shooter.

#15 Posted by Sticky_Pennies (2019 posts) -

Sounds like a direct competitor to Velvet Assassin.
Interesting.

#16 Posted by EndlessMike (506 posts) -

I was excited about this game until hearing this. I wanted a more stealth focus realistic look at the french resistance movement. I did not want a world war 2 third person shooter.

#17 Posted by MeatSim (10603 posts) -

This is the first time I have heard of this game and now I'm really interested in it.

#18 Posted by Captain_Fookup (1519 posts) -

I will only purchase this game if there is some form of quality control during development, after getting completely ripped off purchasing both Mercs 2 and Conquest I'm a little hesitant on this one.

#19 Posted by natetodamax (19137 posts) -

Completely forgot about this game. I'm a little skeptical about it right now. Guess we'll have to wait a little longer for more information.

#20 Posted by RHCPfan24 (8610 posts) -

Now this looks like a real Pandemic game. Instead of the disappointments that were LOTR: Conquest and Mercs 2, Saboteur looks like it really will deliver. The open world style and art style will really give this one legs.

#21 Edited by Vigorousjammer (2385 posts) -

people keep saying this could be an interesting "WWII Shooter"
well, I'm gonna go ahead and say it's not a WWII shooter... it just a spy shooter that takes place in WWII...

This looks like what WWII games should be, instead of the over-done cash in's that we've seen time and time again.
The game looks genuinely original, and I'm genuinely interested. It kind of reminds me of the movie "Where Eagles Dare" with Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood.

#22 Posted by bobpie24 (99 posts) -

Looking good, hope it delivers.

#23 Posted by dagas (2711 posts) -

At first it seemed to be exactly what I wanted. An open world WWII resistance game ,but they lost me at "one man army" taking on 5 tanks, 10 stukas and 35 stormtroopers by yourself or whatever is going to ruin everything. When you fight a vastly superior foe you don't go out on the middle of the street guns blazing. It should be infiltrating without getting noticed, using attrective women to get the attention of the germans while you sneak by, assassenation by poisining the wine at that bar that German officer visits that sort of thing. And of course you should have to cooperate with the other resistance members.

Also I bet it won't be very free after all. Probably more like GTA4 mission running than Morrowind-style open gameplay.

#24 Edited by Jimbo (9710 posts) -

They could use 'Allo 'Allo! footage for all of the cutscenes and it would still be better than Mercenaries 2.

#25 Posted by Mjolnir (454 posts) -

Glad to finally hear some more about this game, although I liked it better as just "Saboteur." I'm hoping the long time it's taken has paid off and will make it an all-around better game than Mercs 2.

#26 Posted by jakob187 (21508 posts) -

GRRR  I was hoping for a video!  Damn...

#27 Posted by BlackWaterCO (1574 posts) -

Will suck ass

New Pandemic = Awful

Hey Guys Mercs 2...oh wait SHIT

Hey Guys LotR: Conquest...oh wai SHIT

#28 Posted by HT101 (1150 posts) -

I will be watching this game to see how it goes.  On IGN, HIl said it was the best game he'd seen which he said about Riddick as well, but gave it a 7.  GiantBomb does such a good job of telling us if it looks good or not and what their concerns are.  I wish all sites had that kind of honesty.

#29 Posted by Verdugo (2001 posts) -

Interesting looking game so far.

#30 Posted by ZarakixKenpachi (391 posts) -

>< haha, on the front page link, I just skimmed the headline, and read "Wii Shooter", and I clicked on the first screenshot and was like holy crapping the graphics. Then I saw the other W.

Looks great for a non-Wii game though XD

#31 Posted by kozmo7 (81 posts) -

Man, I thought this game was shovelware from ages past. This looks hot though, gonna keep an eye on it.

#32 Posted by kboy (126 posts) -

Alright! I been waiting for Pandemic to get off their asses to push this one.
Here's to hoping it was worth the wait.

#33 Posted by Haze (366 posts) -

So I was reading that they didn't cast a guy with an actual Irish accent in the main role because they were worried people wouldn't understand him...


Is there a single branch of American media that doesn't think the American public are morons?
#34 Posted by MrMiyagi (929 posts) -

Really want this game.

#35 Posted by KnifeySpoony (1160 posts) -

Completely forgot about this game, though I remember it looked interesting. Will keep my eye out for it.

#36 Posted by zoozilla (974 posts) -

I thought it would be slightly more serious than an "Indiana Jones" type adventure.

Still interested in it, though.

#37 Posted by TwoOneFive (9461 posts) -

looks like a wannabe uncharted. 

#38 Posted by Artemis_D (816 posts) -

Uncharted?  You must not have played the same Uncharted I did, because it sounds nothing like this...

#39 Posted by SpikeDelight (671 posts) -

I think that while it's an awesome idea to let you gaze upon the cityscape and see which places you've liberated by looking at their color intensity, it may end up hurting the game to take the black and white filter off. I think having such a stark effect in the post-processing at all times would have allowed the game to show less flaws in its graphics and make it more visually interesting. In the image they have in the article that's in color, if you take out the explosion and the interesting camera angle, that's a pretty bland looking place he's in when you compare it to the first image, where just having the color effect makes it look better. If the final product looks like this (yes I know it's a work in progress, but visuals don't get fixed as completely when a game comes out as most people would like to think) then it will almost incentivise the player not to liberate, since it will be so much more interesting to be in the black and white areas.


In short, they need to come up with a cool post-processing effect for the liberated areas in addition to the black and white areas so the environments don't look drab.
#40 Edited by Brackynews (3966 posts) -

Instant 4 stars for any game with French lingerie.  (Only 3 if he's wearing it.)

#41 Posted by lordofultima (6186 posts) -

Wow, this is a sick concept!

#42 Posted by Death_Unicorn (2826 posts) -

They could have given it some serious story if they took it slightly more serious. It does look good though, but with Pandemic's current track record, I'm skeptical.

#43 Posted by Meteora (5787 posts) -

This looks interesting. I'll look into getting it if the game goes out well.

#44 Posted by ComradeCrash (551 posts) -

Looks very cool! I hope it turns out good!

#45 Edited by TOYBOXX (310 posts) -

Sean Devlin kind of reminds me of an Irish version of Sam Fisher but in a WWII setting. Hopefully soon we'll have the opportunity of seeing the game in action in the future. I've personally been waiting to see what this game was about and hoping that it'll break free from the norm of the typical tired WWII shooter that seem to be over saturating the market as of late.

[NOTE TO THE DEVELOPERS] Please don't add multiplayer to this game unless it's co-op. We don't need another disposable mode or feature that doesn't have a purpose to the overall game as a whole.

#46 Posted by FuzzYLemoN (1600 posts) -

I'll be keeping an eye on this one...

#47 Posted by Media_Master (3283 posts) -

Wait and see..

#48 Posted by daniel_beck_90 (3159 posts) -

Combining WWII and open world in a story driven game is a brilliant idea that will resurrect the WWII genre and would give it new meaning and aspects .

#49 Posted by onlineatron (146 posts) -

Pandemic used to be so awesome, creating games like Full Spectrum Warrior, Battlefront and the first Mercs game, but lately they have been kinda suckish.....This game does look fresh and interesting though so here's hoping they return to form and delivering something truly special.

#50 Posted by theMcNasty (741 posts) -

I'll stay optimistic for this one, sounds pretty fun.  And that stripper looks pretty hot.

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