The Comedy Of Errors.
Let me start off by saying that I love a good yarn of a story. It doesn't have to be realistic, nor be without plotholes, no, a good yarn has to be a fun and enjoyable story. Something which Pandemic's 'The Saboteur' does very well. The Saboteur is by no means a fantastic gaming accomplishment by any technical means, but it is fantastically well presented and, if you can see past a few errors, keeps your attention long enough to see you through to it's bloody resolve.
You play as Sean Devlin, and Irish ex-pat mechanic and race driver who has moved to the Parisian countryside. All is seemingly going well for Sean, he has women and whiskey pretty much all the time, but during a race, it all goes tits up when the Nazi race driver (Herr Deirker) cheats his way to victory, something Sean and his good friend, Jules, don't take too kindly to. After getting revenge on the Deirker's car, things go from bad to worse, and Sean ends up swearing revenge, just in time for the shit to hit the fan as the Nazi forces invade.
The basic premise for the campaign in The Saboteur is for you to become a one man tour-de-force and essentially rid Paris of Nazis on your own, with the eventual help of the French Liberation Forces. When the Nazis take control, Paris changes from this wonderfully vivid, vibrant city to this Frank Miller-esque black and white with splashes of colour, (namely red for Nazi stuff, sky blue for Liberation people), which gradually returns to it's vibrancy as you complete story arcs and inspire the people of the region.
On the subject of graphics, whilst the stylistic tendencies are well done, and effectively reflect the French public's morale, the actual textures and modelling are far from perfect. There is very little sense of depth to the textures, something which Assassin's Creed did much better. The Nazi forces, too feel flat and the costumes can come across as relatively 'blocky'. This is by no means a major issue, as usually you're too busy to notice these things, but when you do, you can't help but notice it all the time. Again, like Assassin's Creed, there are 'viewpoints' which when found, treat you to a 360-degree panoramic of the area, but this doesn't make the city 'pop' out at you - you aren't exactly blown away by it. A glaring example of this is halfway through a later mission, which sees you flying along in a zeppelin, treating you to a high oblique angled view of Paris. At this point Sean says something along the lines of "She's a beauty of a city alright; sure, she's seen some troubles, but she hasn't lost her charm." This would have really worked, if it didn't bring out the glaring fact that in this part, Paris looks like a black, white & grey, mottled mess of rough-hewn blocks. Of course, this is one small section, and I'm nit-picking.
It's been mentioned numerous times how 'gamey' this game is, given that you have meters around your map to keep an eye on, different coloured icons for different states of different actions, and circles within circles, trying to avoid other circles in your circular map, you are aware that it is just a game, but it doesn't matter. It's a perfectly functioning mechanic that really didn't bother me, especially when coupled with a fine control scheme that acts perfectly well enough for you to play without thinking too much about what you're pressing, and leaves you with the impression that you could come back after six months and pick it up with no problems.
To draw the last Assassin's Creed comparison, The Saboteur uses stealth and the climbing of buildings to access your targets. The stealth aspect is very well polished, and requires you to think about the shortest route, which draws the least attention, and doesn't get your cover blown if you're in disguise. The climbing straight forward enough, but plain. Jump at a wall with 'A', press 'A' repeatedly until on the roof. Unless you get stuck, where you have to rotate the camera with the right stick in order to highlight a new edge for Sean to jump to.
The shooting in The Saboteur is more than competent, given the weaponry you are allowed access to, I would probably say that they handle better than in a lot of WWII games do, though that largely depends on the player I guess? You carry a reasonable amount of ammo for each gun as well as having a limit of carrying two weapons. Which, for me, ended up being a silenced pistol and a sniper rifle, which would be switched out for an MG when the shit hit the fan.
Oh, there's boobs in there too. Your main hideout throughout the game is in the 'Belle du Nuit', which is a burlesque house, which is where, if you bought the game new, you can use a code that comes packed in to access the 'Midnight Show', enabling you to turn nudity on, which removes the dancer's nipple tassles, and allows you to go downstairs and get a private burlesque dance. Unlike most video games, the nudity is done in a very tasteful way, and is handled pretty much the way you would expect a cabaret to be in real life. The breasts themselves are realistic, not to large, nor unrealistically perky, unlike say Ivy's.
Overall this game is a brilliant one, but with a thin foggy veil of negatives, almost all of which can be forgiven, given just how amazingly fun this game is, coupled with it being a much needed fresh take on WWII video games. I can't help but think either, that this game would be a much more polished feature had Pandemic not closed, as I would love for there to be DLC for this of some sort. However, I will have to settle for this being my slow-burning game that I pick up when bored, to try and 100%, but also because blowing up Nazi's has never been more fun.