Playing more like an action-adventure movie than a video game, The Saboteur puts you into the driving shoes of Sean Devlin, an Irish expatriate and saboteur based on real-life war hero William Grover-Williams—a Grand Prix– winning racecar driver turned Allied secret agent—with a little Steve McQueen and Indiana Jones thrown in.
As Devlin, you’re seeking revenge against a high-ranking Nazi who killed your best friend. You decide to channel your anger into acts of sabotage against the Nazis in Paris. On assignment from the Special Operations Executive and the French Resistance, you’ll assassinate German officers, blow up guard towers, and engage in high-speed car chases, using whatever means necessary to escape undiscovered.
The world of The Saboteur is vast and open, and Paris has been faithfully recreated for your exploration. You can drive any vehicle and climb any structure— including the Eiffel Tower itself. Given that liberation is one of The Saboteur’s major themes, it’s fitting that the player has so much freedom.
But the game’s real strength is its spectacular visual style, unusual in this gaming genre. In the beginning, Paris’s color and life has been stripped away by the oppressive German occupation, leaving only dramatic shadows and subtle whites. Only splashes of color exist: the reds of Nazi flags, or the rich greens and golds of the vibrant nightclub that functions as Devlin’s headquarters. But as you successfully complete his missions, restoring Parisians’ hope and their will to fight back, color slowly returns.
The game’s faults rest with its controls, which are less responsive than they should be. You may try to jump to a nearby rooftop and fall to your death, or attempt to take down a German soldier from behind only to be discovered by the enemy, all because your commands didn’t register correctly. But ultimately, The Saboteur is beautiful to behold and very fun to play.
Originally published in the April 2010 issue of World War II Magazine. To subscribe, click here.