Taking Back France With The Saboteur

Avatar image for brad
Posted by Brad (5421 posts) -
The game uses black and white to stark effect.
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.
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?
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.

Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6

Staff
Avatar image for brad
#1 Posted by Brad (5421 posts) -
The game uses black and white to stark effect.
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.
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?
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.

Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6

Staff
Avatar image for osaladin
#2 Posted by Osaladin (2697 posts) -

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

Avatar image for scooper
#3 Posted by Scooper (7920 posts) -

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

Avatar image for jjor64
#4 Posted by JJOR64 (19686 posts) -

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

Avatar image for luberik
#5 Posted by Luberik (128 posts) -

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

Avatar image for pie
#6 Posted by Pie (7317 posts) -

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

Avatar image for dquarters
#7 Posted by dQuarters (181 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.

Avatar image for cynical_m
#8 Posted by Cynical_M (387 posts) -

I'll be keeping my eyes on this.

Avatar image for erinfizz
#9 Posted by erinfizz (1065 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. :)

Avatar image for joshua
#10 Posted by Joshua (34 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.  
Avatar image for foxmulder
#11 Posted by foxmulder (1879 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 :(

Avatar image for blinck
#12 Posted by Blinck (216 posts) -

Looks very interesting!!

Avatar image for laticsfan
#13 Posted by laticsfan (612 posts) -

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

Avatar image for electrichaggis
#14 Posted by ElectricHaggis (626 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.

Avatar image for sticky_pennies
#15 Posted by Sticky_Pennies (2074 posts) -

Sounds like a direct competitor to Velvet Assassin.
Interesting.

Avatar image for endlessmike
#16 Posted by EndlessMike (544 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.

Avatar image for meatsim
#17 Posted by MeatSim (11151 posts) -

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

Avatar image for captain_fookup
#18 Posted by Captain_Fookup (1526 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.

Avatar image for natetodamax
#19 Posted by natetodamax (19466 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.

Avatar image for rhcpfan24
#20 Posted by RHCPfan24 (8663 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.

Avatar image for vigorousjammer
#21 Edited by Vigorousjammer (2945 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.

Avatar image for bobpie24
#22 Posted by bobpie24 (108 posts) -

Looking good, hope it delivers.

Avatar image for dagas
#23 Posted by dagas (3508 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.

Avatar image for jimbo
#24 Edited by Jimbo (10472 posts) -

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

Avatar image for mjolnir
#25 Posted by Mjolnir (501 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.

Avatar image for jakob187
#26 Posted by jakob187 (22938 posts) -

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

Avatar image for blackwaterco
#27 Posted by BlackWaterCO (1685 posts) -

Will suck ass

New Pandemic = Awful

Hey Guys Mercs 2...oh wait SHIT

Hey Guys LotR: Conquest...oh wai SHIT

Avatar image for ht101
#28 Posted by ht101 (1693 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.

Avatar image for verdugo
#29 Posted by Verdugo (2094 posts) -

Interesting looking game so far.

Avatar image for ishimurad
#30 Posted by IshimuraD (477 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

Avatar image for kozmo7
#31 Posted by kozmo7 (89 posts) -

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

Avatar image for kboy
#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.

Avatar image for haze
#33 Posted by Haze (416 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?
Avatar image for brydello
#34 Posted by Brydello (949 posts) -

Really want this game.

Avatar image for knifeyspoony
#35 Posted by KnifeySpoony (1247 posts) -

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

Avatar image for zoozilla
#36 Posted by zoozilla (1023 posts) -

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

Still interested in it, though.

Avatar image for twoonefive
#37 Posted by TwoOneFive (9786 posts) -

looks like a wannabe uncharted. 

Avatar image for artemis_d
#38 Posted by Artemis_D (832 posts) -

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

Avatar image for spikedelight
#39 Posted by SpikeDelight (776 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.
Avatar image for brackynews
#40 Edited by Brackynews (4387 posts) -

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

Avatar image for lordofultima
#41 Posted by lordofultima (6582 posts) -

Wow, this is a sick concept!

Avatar image for death_unicorn
#42 Posted by Death_Unicorn (2878 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.

Avatar image for meteora
#43 Posted by Meteora (5844 posts) -

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

Avatar image for comradecrash
#44 Posted by ComradeCrash (598 posts) -

Looks very cool! I hope it turns out good!

Avatar image for toyboxx
#45 Edited by TOYBOXX (327 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.

Avatar image for fuzzylemon
#46 Posted by FuzzYLemoN (1609 posts) -

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

Avatar image for media_master
#47 Posted by Media_Master (3259 posts) -

Wait and see..

Avatar image for daniel_beck_90
#48 Posted by daniel_beck_90 (3243 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 .

Avatar image for onlineatron
#49 Posted by onlineatron (206 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.

Avatar image for themcnasty
#50 Posted by theMcNasty (758 posts) -

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

This edit will also create new pages on Giant Bomb for:

Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

Comment and Save

Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Giant Bomb users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.