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The Saboteur review

AT A GLANCE
  • Color, or black and white. Paris is stunning in both
  • Finally playing the good guy in an open-world sandbox
  • So many nasty Nazis to kill in so many nasty ways
  • Gameplay - especially stealth - can be frustrating
  • Forced gratuitousness
  • The slight unfinished feeling. RIP, Pandemic

What might have been

In spite of the game’s many obvious shortcomings, we couldn’t help loving – or at least really, really liking – The Saboteur. The story is well-told and well-paced enough to make up for its predictability. The characters are admirable and lovable enough to forgive their awful accents. The style and setting are beautiful enough to hide the lack of depth. The gameplay is diverse and exciting enough to hide the lack of polish.

Still, you can’t finish The Saboteur without wondering if this is what developer Pandemic really intended their finished product to be. Throughout the game, we noticed sloppy glitches such as Sean’s head popping through a car roof, or a Nazi general randomly exploding after we walked by him. Seemingly important characters are introduced, then abandoned by the main story. The protagonist’s mysterious background is repeatedly mentioned, but never fully explored. The Achievement / Trophy for beating the game is called “The Legend Begins.” Heartbreaking.

If Pandemic hadn’t been closed by EA last month, would they have been given more time to transform The Saboteur into something amazing? Or given the chance to make an amazing sequel? We’ll never know. As far as swan songs go, though, The Saboteur is a high note.


The Midnight Show

Okay, we can’t end the review without touching on this already infamous DLC. If you buy The Saboteur new, you’ll find a code inside that unlocks topless women and a secret underground club filled with more topless women, as well as burlesque shows, a knife-throwing minigame, the chance to win a bonus car and the even greater chance to see Sean get drunk and pass out.

If you buy the game used or borrow from a friend, however, you’ll have to pay an additional $3 on Xbox Live or PlayStation Network to unlock the Midnight Show content. Are one car, one minigame and some extra breasts worth three bucks? We can’t decide that for you, but we can provide a video of the underground club to show exactly what you’ll be downloading / missing.


Above: Like this, only with actual nudity


Is it better than…

GTA IV? No. We did enjoy playing an unequivocally good guy in an open-world game for once, and murdering stereotypically evil Nazis is much more satisfying than slaughtering random, stereotypically ethnic gangsters. Liberty City dwarfs The Saboteur’s Paris in size, depth and detail, however, and GTA IV is – without a doubt – the more refined and fully realized game.
 

Assassin’s Creed II? No. Both games recreate a past time and a specific place, but the developers of Assassin’s Creed II obviously did a ton more research. Their virtual Italy feels like a real place, starring real historical figures and supported by real historical footnotes. The Saboteur opts for a fun, yet super silly, fantasy version of WWII France instead. Plus, the climbing isn’t nearly as intuitive.

Mercenaries 2? Yes. Pandemic Studios developed this sandbox game, too, and the play style is noticeably similar as a result. We preferred The Saboteur’s bright urban landscape and innovative visual style to Mercenaries 2’s sprawling wilderness and gritty “xtreme”ness, but then again, the latter’s got boats and helicopters. Oh, and lots of bugs. Yeah, we’ll go with The Saboteur... it may not be polished enough, but it’s definitely more polished than its predecessor.


Just for you, Metacritic!

The Saboteur is a charming mess. Yes, the unpolished gameplay can be frustrating and, yes, the storytelling can be silly. But as soon as we drove through the gorgeously stylized Paris – then jumped out of our nitro-fueled racecar to snap a unsuspecting Nazi’s neck – we didn’t care anymore. For us, the good overwhelmed the bad.

Dec 8, 2009

More Info

Release date: Dec 08 2009 - PS3, PC, Xbox 360 (US)
Dec 04 2009 - PS3, PC, Xbox 360 (UK)
Available Platforms: PS3, PC, Xbox 360
Genre: Action
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: Pandemic Studios
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood, Intense Violence, Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language
PEGI Rating:
18+

25 comments

  • allstick - July 22, 2010 4:32 a.m.

    Finally got around to playing the game. Loved it. Your review was dead on. Loved that too.
  • Jason.Darksavior - March 14, 2010 2:26 a.m.

    It's pretty fun but after a while, I couldnt be bothered to finish it.
  • CreeplyTuna - February 28, 2010 5:46 p.m.

    sooo much better than gta 4 cuz its acually fun
  • Godstrike3020 - December 18, 2009 11:04 p.m.

    well i didnt think this game looked good but now i feel stupid for my self
  • AssBurgersFTW - December 15, 2009 12:18 a.m.

    the nudie mod is free on PC
  • narutofreak1 - December 14, 2009 10 p.m.

    wow that certainly looks like a good game... gonna have to get it soon...
  • Persona - December 13, 2009 4:13 p.m.

    Someday EA will be attacked by the other game publishers. And Pandemic will rise again to develop the game with fully destructible EA headquaters. Mercenaries 2 was pretty fun despite bugs. And the "A city worth fighting for" really stole the cake for me. It's like watching a painting come to life.. which is something memorable.
  • AndyGiff93 - December 12, 2009 11:55 p.m.

    Nice review You helped make my mind up I shall buy it after christmas
  • gatornation1254 - December 12, 2009 1:37 a.m.

    I think I might have to pick this up after Christmas. It sounds entertaining at least.
  • Skykid - December 9, 2009 9:35 p.m.

    I'll miss Pandemic so much. They made Star Wars Battlefront I & II. EA should go to hell for axing them. Sabotuer looks awesome. Looks like a possible Christmas gift.
  • TheIronMaiden - December 9, 2009 8:38 p.m.

    hmmm might pick it up just for sheer amusement. Sounds like a good change of pace from the normal run and gun style WWII games.
  • Romination - December 9, 2009 7:34 a.m.

    I really have no idea how Pandemic could be ANYONE'S favorite developer....But them closing probably made this much difference: None. It was just a few weeks ago, the game was probably already being printed by then. Anything they added in wouldn't have been much. The game was gold. Then they closed.
  • Amatarasu - December 9, 2009 5:42 a.m.

    WTF?! Pandemic got canned? noooo, they were my favorite developer!...well second to valve, but i'm not talking about them! 2009 sucks!Nukem, Billy Mays, now pandemic!? WHY!!!
  • joel2211 - December 9, 2009 4:27 a.m.

    Im playing the game now and I personally think it is a good game. Something about going up to an enemy sniper tower and planting dynamite on the ladder and walking away while it blows is pretty fun. I suggest you guys and gals get it
  • CH3BURASHKA - December 9, 2009 3:25 a.m.

    I hate how their last advertising push was all about boobies. It waters down the tone of the game even before I've played it. For shame. And no, I'm not gay or something: I have porn, and I have games. I don't need both in one.
  • Metroidhunter32 - December 9, 2009 2:46 a.m.

    Hm. Mayhaps not a purchase, but a rent if I get the time. And they may go to church but they go with the girl in a boob tube. Not exactly sunday best. BTW, best recaptcha ever: Rudolph dolls
  • Samael - December 9, 2009 2:20 a.m.

    Hmm...one point better than most reviews I've seen so far, everybody's giving it 7's. I'll rent it for sure.
  • lovinmyps3 - December 9, 2009 2:12 a.m.

    This is a maybe for me. I really appreciate style and it looks like this is just oozing with it. "You'll hate: Gameplay" lmao
  • chairmanofthebar - December 9, 2009 1:35 a.m.

    I was part of a market research focus group for this game about 3 and a half years ago. I kept wondering what the heck ever became of it. I don't know what the main villain ended up looking like, but when they showed us what they had back then, he looked so much like M. Bison from Street Fighter, it was hilarious.
  • GamesRadarCharlieBarratt - December 8, 2009 11:36 p.m.

    @sledgehammer70 You're right about the DLC price, so that'll be corrected promptly. Last week they were saying 400 MS points ($4.99). Thanks for the catch!

Showing 1-20 of 25 comments

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