Review: The Saboteur
Alright! We're gonna be doin' one thang and one thang only....and that's killin' Nazis. The Saboteur is mainly a 'go here and do this mission next' game in the vain of all the other GTA clones. This is one of the better ones out there but could have been better if it had more polish done to it. The story is simplistic enough. Race car driver gets robbed of his victory, driver and friend go to exact revenge by stealing cheaters car, both get caught up in a Nazi scheme, friend dies, you go on a tirade to kill your friends murderer. A little too paint by numbers in terms of revenge stories but not too much you can do different with that style. The flow of the story felt good enough to keep me at least semi interested in it to find out what happened next. Of course there are some plot twists with one not done well enough so when it happens you are shocked not because its good, but because it made no sense.
The music was amazing and fit the ambiance of the era the game was set in perfect. I love the way the music in the car goes from sounding like a crappy am radio when standing near the car to sounding like a live performance with you in the front row. I could almost smell the stale cigarette smoke in the air as some lovely dame sang a nice jazzy number next to a piano. Although some songs seem to repeat more than others, it wasn't a bother to me. The voice acting was moderately passable. At times, it seemed the voice actors lost the accent they were going for in one sentence then in another, magically have it back in full force. Also, the stereotypes were played up heavily in this game. For me it was annoying at first but it grew on me as the game progressed and actually made some parts funny.
The direction they took with the art style was beautiful. For places that were under Nazi occupation, everything was colored in a Sin City style of all black and white with splashes of color in certain areas (eyes of the characters or a piece of clothing, etc). When you would free certain areas of Nazi control, the color would come back to that area to signal that you freed the area. I didn't like the color all too much when compared to the black and white style. I think it took away how the black and white coloring made you feel while gunning down Nazi's. It helped with the gritty setting the game was going for right from the beginning of the game. Speaking of the beginning of the game, the opening sequence is pretty good (not because of the ladies) and feels like a movie intro more than a video game intro. If you buy the game new, there is a free DLC called "The Midnight Show" that unlocks brothels that you can hide in as well as the pasties that the ladies wear are removed. Honestly, I saw no relevance in having this DLC other than to get the teenage boys worked up late night in their room.
Unfortunately, the game mechanics was the main thing needing a good polish in The Saboteur. Tons of pop in textures (cars appearing out of thin air and bouncing as they hit the ground driving towards me), glitches (getting stuck in walls or enemies thrown off buildings float in mid air) were frustrating but not a deal breaker. What really killed the mood of stomping a mudhole in some Nazi arse was the 'stealth' mechanic in the game. How can wearing a enemy disguise be worse than walking around as yourself? Well when you have it so that there is a circle around you on your mini-map and when you do anything but walk the circle gets bigger, thus alerting the guards from 20 feet away that you are the enemy. Not so when you are out of disguise. I can run around to my hearts content and no one says anything (although climbing, sneaking, or holding your weapon out in plain view alerts them). What's the point of using a disguise if you can sneak around better without one? The only time I see it benefiting you to use a disguise is when you need to get into a restricted area. Even then you still have to take out the guards without alerting them which is almost impossible.
What also took me out of the game was how it glitched after I completed a mission and was unable to do the next main one since it wasn't unlocked on the map. Going through the forums for The Saboteur, you can see that other people had issues like this as well. The solution was a simple one...just restart the last mission and it should fix it. Problem for people who only use the Auto Save feature and it gets copied over after you beat the mission that you need to go back to. I was 2 missions away from the end of the game. I will never know what happens now since I refuse to start the game over cause of that glitch.
The controls work the same way Mercenaries 2 does and actually works for this game. With all the weapons you can choose from, I never had the need to use anything but a rifle and a machine gun. I am sure other people used most of the weapons but using that combo worked 95% of the time for any mission you went on. The game has a cover system that actually works in the way I expect it to work for most games. Anything higher up than you shooting will hit you behind cover so you have to be smart about were you take cover.
I had some fun playing this game despite the glitches. It's not a bad game, just unfinished. If Pandemic had more time to polish up some rough spots, it would be a fantastic game. The Saboteur is worth a play through if just to have fun blowing crap up in the black and white visual style.