The Saboteur Preview

Written by Joe Martin

May 7, 2009 | 10:14

Tags: #nazi #open-world #pandemic #paris #racing #saboteur #thief #tom-french #world-war-2 #ww2 #wwii

Companies: #ea #electronic-arts #france

Colour Me Stupid

One of the key gameplay features of The Saboteur is the way that colour is handled in the game to create a uniquely cinematic look that ties the game both into the black and white movies of the time, but also the exciting hi-def gameplay of modern day.

The shift in colours aren’t just a gimmick either, but are linked to the Will to Fight system that the whole game is built around. It’s sappy and a tiny bit obvious, but areas of Paris that are heavily occupied by the Nazis will literally have all the colour and zest sucked out of them, resulting in areas of the town that are only presented in the colours black, white and red. It gives the game a nice, noir-ish, pseudo-Schindler look, but it also gives players a specific reason to fight against the Nazis; to make the game look better.

As you fight back against the villainous Nazis and slowly manage to inspire in the oppressed populace the all-important Will to Fight you slowly re-introduce a little colour into the world, snowballing that je ne sais qua until whole portions of the city are once again awash with technicolour.

*The Saboteur Preview The Saboteur Preview - Gameplay
Click to enlarge

The colour mechanic is more than just a gimmick though. As well as offering players an interesting motif by which to judge their successes and a visual hook for the game that make it stand out in a crowd, the colour system can also be used to gauge player progress. All you need to do is scale a nearby roof or jump up on top of Eiffel Tower (which takes bloody ages to climb) and you can judge your process through the game by looking down and see how fully you’ve bought colour back to the city.

And yes, you can literally climb up the side of the Eiffel Tower if you want. You can pretty much climb anything if you want to, as The Saboteur uses a similar free-climbing system to Tomb Raider: Underworld or Assassin’s Creed, letting you climb pretty much anywhere you can see a good hand-hold.

Scaling the Parisian architecture plays an important part of the game too, as avoiding Nazi patrols and snipers is vital if you want to accomplish a mission without undue danger. Pandemic has been careful not to build too much of the game around stealth though, so if you want to just grab a sten gun and tackle your foes more aggressively then the game is balanced for that too. There are plenty of cars and munitions crates to blow up, open streets for car chases and all that. If you ask us though, sniping from rooftops and doing up-close stealth kills is a lot more fun than the alternative.

*The Saboteur Preview The Saboteur Preview - Gameplay
Click to enlarge

Either way, there’ll be plenty of action, that’s for sure. Sitting back with Pandemic’s Tom French we saw a mid-game mission where Sean is tasked with destroying a new AA gun that Gerry has built in the centre of the city before the Nazis have a chance to test it. The gun is only accessible by one heavily guarded road, so if you don’t fancy wading through corpses then the best idea is to try and sneak over the rooftops – which is what Tom did. A snipe here, a stick of TNT there and Sean was making good progress, though we’ll admit our toes curled in tension every time he leapt from one chimney stack to another.

Since the game is set in an open world design, Sean can tackle his objectives from almost any angle – but that doesn’t mean that every path is a good one. In our viewing of the game Tom found that out first hand when he tried a new route and found himself surrounded by sniper nests, with retreat the only apparent option for him.

With the clock ticking down however, Tom tried a more reckless tactic and launched himself from ceiling to street-level, landing out of sniper range but right in the middle of a very surprised Nazi. Not slowing at all, he emptied his weapons into the crowd and then ran full-pelt for the target, thankful that the ad-hoc plan had worked so well.
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