Good game with great stealth elements.
The Saboteur... Where to start?
Well, the first thing that grabs you when playing this, is that it playes very much like a Rockstar, Grand Theft Auto Series game. You run around, get missions off people, steal cars, shoot people - that sort of thing...
And that's true up to a certain point, but the more seasoned gamer will eventually be drawn much further back to an old PC game called Commando's and it's sequel. In Commando's the team had to get in, without alerting the guards, blow something up then get out.
This is very much how most of the missions in 'The Sabotuer' work. The theory is quiet in, noisy out. There are various tools at your mans disposal to achieve this, and there is an air of realism to it. For example, leaving bodies where they can be found will cause the alarm to be raised, acting suspicious while wearing a disguise in plain view of the Nazi will caues the disguise to fail.
At times the missions can feel more like an intricate puzzle than an action adventure game, where only precise, carefully timed kills will get you through.
As you get through the game more sophisticated weaponry and techniques becomes available and the difficulty of the missions increases accordingly. The main character is a likeable fellow, an Irishman by the name of Devlin - and you'll never cease smirking at his flailing arms and legs and shouting 'Bloody hell! ' in his thick Irish accent as he plummets to his death...
The main story is entertaining, and the characters are well written enough - there isn't a particular depth to it, it's different enough to be interesting, but has an air of familiarity that makes the story angle make sense.
The setting, is very nicely rendered, some concessions have been made to get the play area down to a sensible size - so areas are generally smaller than real life, but if anything this enhances the play experiences rather than detracts from it. Some of the digital architecture is truly amazing, climbing Devlin to the top of the Eifel Tower to get a view over the city is truly breath-taking, and worth doing for the view if nothing else. This is also a very atmospheric game, and the atmosphere has a clear game mechanic. Any areas of the map which are still considered under the control of the Nazi's are coloured black and white except for red, which is rendered brightly. It gives these area's a film noir quality, you feel that an area is oppressed, and a little lifeless. When you liberate an area it becomes awash with colour and brightness, and it immediately feels different. This effect also effects gameplay - areas which have not been liberated have a higher concentration of German troops and are much more dangerous to Devlin, so when in a chase - fleeing into a colourful area is a good way to improve your chances of losing your tail.
All this considered, this is a very pretty, different, fun and interesting game to play. I aren't without my criticisms, which apply to most Sandbox games and probably always will. The distribution of content. finishing the main storyline probably won't take much time at all, it isn't a long game in that sense. However clearing all the map and finishing all the optional content would take considerably longer. The trouble is, the natural instinct is to want to progress the main story, and in doing so you finish the main game arguably too quickly and get left with a monotonous drudge of samey content - which would act as a pleasant distraction from the main story-line and leave you without too much to do at the end if you did more while you finished the main game.
I think the developers should have introduced some sort of system that forced the player to complete a certain number of free-play targets to unlock the next part of the story, this would have given the title more longevity. As it stands I can only reccommend any new players do this to prolong the life of the game.
All in all this has been a fantastic effort from Pandemic, even if it is something of a 'Swan Song', given the demise of the studio. A pity really - because if 'The Sabotuer' is anything to go by, with a little more experience they could be capable of truly great games.