Grand Theft Reich

Been a while since I personally posted, but seeing as I have little else to do since Deadpool tied me up here, I figured I’d play a game and review it for you.

Really though, is Deadpool stupid? He left me a computer to use.

Anyway, the game I’ve been playing was released a while ago, in December 2009, by EA Games and Pandemic Studios, on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 (I’ve been playing the PC version). Pandemic was liquidated not long afterwards, but you shouldn’t allow that to impact on your impression of this game. The game in question is The Saboteur.

The Saboteur

The game can best be described as a Grand Theft Auto clone with a dash of Assassin’s Creed. The blend is pulled off rather well and uniquely, and although gameplay-wise it feels like a GTA game, everything else about it makes it unique.

After a race in Saarbrucken goes wrong for Irish mechanic-turned-race driver Sean Devlin, he flees Germany for France. This coincides with the beginning of World War II.  This is all part of a wonderfully constructed prologue that I really enjoyed.

The rest of the game is set in France, with Sean being roped into the resistance movement by a Frenchman named Luc. Sean becomes a ‘freedom fighter’ (read: terrorist) and is given missions which usually result in Nazi stuff being exploded with dynamite, or Nazi heads being exploded with bullets. So lots of exploded things.

As I’ve said, the game handles very much like a GTA game. Essentially the same minimap, quest-giving system, driving etc. However, being set in Nazi-occupied France definitely distances this game from GTA. There is also lot’s of stealth, with Sean often having to sneak past Nazis to set his explosives, or walk amongst them in uniform (which is where my suspension of disbelief is broken, because he just doesn’t look like a German. And if he had to talk he’d obviously be caught out.). There is also a fair bit of climbing and jumping around on rooftops, and sliding across cables like flying foxes and such, which is where the Assassin’s Creed thing came from. The difficulty in the game comes mostly from the stealth, although I’ve found in a lot of cases you can just kill hordes of enemies instead, but that is not usually as fulfilling as sneaking through a castle dressed as an SS soldier.

An Irishman beating up Nazis. Fun stuff.
The game is fairly pretty, and the backdrop of France, and particularly the French countryside, being very appealing. It was also interesting to see Germany in the prologue. But this game has a brilliant little gimmick that I really love, even if the reasoning behind it is a bit questionable. In areas where the resistance is not particularly strong (or the people aren’t ‘inspired’ by Sean), or just generally in areas with a strong Nazi presence, the game is in black and white. In my opinion the game looks at it’s best when it does this. There are other colours present, such as red on Nazi armbands, or blue on resistance members (and many windows have yellow lights), but most everything else is black and white. The game transitions gradually between coloured areas and greyscale areas and this is represented on the map as well, which is useful. I really like this stylistic choice and I was especially impressed during the escaping Germany section of the prologue, where you are driving along and can see the red lights on dozens of Nazi planes.

It's so pretty! There aren't enough black and white games.
Some criticism now though. Not everything is good, of course. Some of the animations are a little silly (jiggle physics especially) and the controls needed to be tightened up. Driving can be slightly problematic, but you should be able to deal with that, combat on the other hand can be quite tricky. I’ve found it’s difficult to aim attacks and I prefer to avoid brawling and either shoot or stealth kill. Shooting controls are mostly good. In general, the game is just lacking the polish it would need to go from being a good game to a great game, at least in my books.

Overall, the game deserves a look. If you enjoy GTA, you will enjoy this, and it’s definitely more exhilarating to punch a Nazi to death than some random gang member. You will occasionally be frustrated, but there are so many times you will be impressed by the game (such as a fun action sequence on a zeppelin, that was just awesome) that the bad points are worth dealing with. A visually pleasant game with solid gameplay and a nice, different take on the over-used gaming cliche of killing Nazis.

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About Brad
I am the Captain of the Starship Lollipants from the planet Buttermonkey, setting off on a wild adventure to discover some stuff and probably receive psychiatric assistance. Oh look, a butterfly made of peanuts. OM NOM NOM.

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