Let me begin by first mentioning that The Saboteur feels more like a companion piece to another Pandemic title, last year’s Mercenaries 2. Both titles use unique environments and situations as a basis for their open-world formats. Both games also like blowing things up on a lot. And sadly, both are full of potentially fun ideas that don’t feel completely thought through. While The Saboteur isn't as broken as Mercs 2 was, it still feels drawn out and incomplete at times.
The Saboteur is set in World War II. In particular, it’s set in Nazi occupied Paris. Even though it’s WWII, remember this ain’t Saving Private Ryan. It’s more like The Great Escape mixed with the recent Inglorious Bastards. It’s a two sided tale of revenge about an Irish racecar driver named Sean Devlin whose out for revenge against a Nazi officer who just happens to be the man who cheated him out of his first race and killed his best friend in front of him. The problem is that this game has too much going on and Pandemic seems to have a hard time juggling the story of revenge, love, and Nazi resistance. All the ingredients are there, but they never meld. Instead of pulling you in with each new aspect of the story, it becomes off-putting.
One of the neat things visually is how The Saboteur displays Nazi-occupied Paris as mostly black & white. Although there are a few splashes of color to help identify Resistance and Nazi stuff scattered about. It gives off a Sin City sort of look. Residents and locals will become more sympathetic to your cause as you liberate areas. In addition to the support of the Parisians, the color will return to those liberated areas. This might have been a little more impressive of a visual effect if it hadn’t already been done in Okami and other titles.
One of the biggest gripes gamers will have with The Saboteur is the voice acting. While it’s not as bad as say Shenmue on the Dreamcast, it ain’t good either. While actually being voiced by an Irishman, Sean Devlin's accent has an odd lilt to it that at times had you waiting for him to reference Irish Spring soap or Lucky Charms. Other European voices seem a bit stereotypical as well. Thankfully there’s no American character or else he’d be either a Yankee fan who sounds like he’s straight out of Long Island or a cowboy with a bad Texas accent. Despite the bad voice acting, it appears that plenty of time was spent on the music. The music is well placed throughout. Moods flow pretty well and the dark overtones are conveyed well through the music.
One thing about the gameplay in The Saboteur is that you will end up in a lot of fire-fights, and the shooting has a nice impact to it. Headshots are easy, but enemies travel in packs, and the city of Paris is littered with sniper towers, machine-gun nests, and just Nazis everywhere. I mean they are everywhere. It makes firefights unpredictable, but it also adds a level of frustration. You can take a pretty heavy amount of damage and your health regenerates. It’s a good thing you have this regenerating health since you’ll be constantly bombarded by enemies that you can’t even locate till you’ve absorbed four entire magazines of ammo.
Besides the issues listed above, The Saboteur does have some tech problems. The game’s frame rate did slow down dramatically during one particularly action-packed sequence. The level of detail actually shows some draw-in flaws, especially when the bright lights of the Eiffel Tower blink out abruptly at a certain distance. The game’s AI isn't particularly bright either. It wasn’t uncommon to see another driver trying to complete some baffling 16-point turn. At a certain point in the game, I found that every time I passed this particular tank, it appeared as though it had dropped from about four feet in the air, and was rubbing uncomfortably against a nearby tree. The Saboteur is full of these issues throughout. It’s easy to get past one; it’s just that they begin piling up.
While The Saboteur is a completely broken or bad game in anyway, it’s just so “not good” that it can’t be recommended for more than a rental. The entire point of an open-world game is to draw you in and let you run around and begin to feel like you’re in an actual place. The Saboteur never does that because you’re constantly reminded by the bad voice acting, glitchy graphics, and horrible AI that you’re playing a video game. If you have been dying to play a game with Lucky and his box of Charms, then by all means fight the Nazi’s with this updated racecar driving leprechaun. But if you like quality, look elsewhere.