If, like State, you grew up on a diet of boys’ comics like Warlord, Victor and Commando, then The Saboteur is the game for you. EA’s latest free-roaming action adventure combines two of State‘s favourite things: shooting Nazis and driving real fast. Seriously, set in WWII-era Paris, this game looks incredible, has some fairly impressive elements (such as changing from black and white to colour – more of which later), and enjoys a massive playing area enough decent variation in the gameplay to keep you coming back for more.
You play Sean Devlin, an Irish racing driver-cum-thief, who just happens to be in Paris when the Germans blitzkrieg their way into town. Having seen his best friend tortured and gunned down by a merciless Nazi officer, our cod-Oirish hero (with the worst accent this side of Far And Away), descends into whiskey and self-pity, before a French author-turned-resistance fighter co-opts him into standing up to the Nazi war machine.
What this means, in real terms, is that you get to blow things up. Lots of things. Almost too many things. There are literally hundreds of Nazi targets dotted around France for you to attach dynamite to, from propaganda speakers to sniper towers, tanks to petrol stations. Every time you destroy one of these emblems of the Third Reich, you earn contraband points, which you then get to spend on the black market, acquiring guns, ammo, maps and various other upgrades to help you on your not-so-merry trail of destruction.
Of course, as well as the casual mayhem, there are also a host of serious missions to complete, including jobs for the British Secret Service, a rogue priest and France’s various resistance leaders. These vary from destroying major Nazi installations, where you sometimes get to man massive AA guns and take down Zeppelins, to rescuing prisoners, assassinating German top brass and even helping atomic scientists defect to the Allies.
The graphics are absolutely beautiful, with Paris (and a good chunk of France) rendered in pristine period detail – every occupied zone is initially black and white, until you raise French morale to the point where the locals start to stand up to their oppressors, when the colour is restored to the streets. The sound is superb, even if the voice-acting is a little hammy (did we mention Devlin’s appalling accent enough times?), although it does deserve kudos for being the only game we’ve ever played where the hero calls his Aryan nemesis a ‘motherless arseface knobjockey’.
OK, so the gameplay is taken from the Grand Theft Auto school of free-roaming missions, either in car or on foot, but the look and feel of this game are enough to lift it above being another GTA clone, while the plot, featuring beautiful Nazi vixens, tyrannical sadistic torturers, exotic dancers, fast cars and shady spies, could have come straight from the pages of an Alastair Maclean novel.