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As Thomas Haynes Bayly once wrote, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” And we have certainly had a lot of time to accrue fondness for The Saboteur. This unique sandbox title from Pandemic – developers of Mercenaries and Star Wars: Battlefront –was announced over two years ago, and to say that information has been scarce since then is an understatement.
Sin City. Grand Theft Auto. Inglorious Basterds. Moulin Rouge. Indiana Jones. Daniel O’Donnell. All these things seem to inform Pandemic’s World War II-set open world kill-’em-up.
It’s German-occupied Paris as a big-budget action movie: explosions, preening Nazi race drivers, base-jumping off the Eiffel Tower and sexy secret agents. By which we mean it’s trashier than a gossip magazine.
Sacred was a massive, innovative action RPG that impressed us enough to be proclaimed PC Gamer’s RPG of the Year in 2004. But, like all games, it was imperfect; most notably, its hack-and-slash combat quickly became repetitive, and controls occasionally felt imprecise. After finally playing some of its much-anticipated prequel, I’m convinced that Sacred 2 will address the gameplay faults that burdened its predecessor and deliver
Although well-received by critics, the first Sacred was much bigger in Europe than in the US and UK. It had a robust and entertaining combat system, which only rarely succumbed to the fatigue of repetition that the genre is known for.
“So press the Left trigger for a melee take down.” Drew Holmes, writer for Saints Row: The Third, said. We went ahead and innocently followed his instruction. Our character whipped around and kicked the nearest pedestrian, who just so happened to be some sort of balloon chested stripper nurse in a g-string. After knocking her to the ground, our character jumped on top of her and started whailing away, initiating a QTE. Befuddled, we obeyed the onscreen prompts mashing LT and RT as if we were Kratos and she was Zeus. “Okay, now press LT while running and you’ll do a running takedown.” Our character leapt forward and grabbed another pedestrian’s head from behind, leaping and slamming it into the concrete before flashing a smile and a reclining pose for the camera. And we haven’t even gotten to the two-handed purple dildo yet.
I’ve been critical of Saints Row in the past, rather unfairly, and almost entirely because I could never see it as anything other than a GTA knockoff. Even if that may’ve been true in the beginning, the series has found a way to distinguish itself by diving face first into territory even Rockstar won’t attempt. While the Grand Theft Auto series has taken a more serious, plot driven route with its gameplay and characters, Saints Row has cranked up the absurdity to levels most games wouldn’t dare to tread. And God love ‘em for it!
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