Sunday, April 18, 2010

Early Impressions - The Saboteur.

Expectations are so biased.

It was probably my belief that Force Unleashed was an above-par game that made me so disgusted with the discovery that is is an entirely middling experience. Likewise, my expectation that The Saboteur would probably be pretty mediocre has led me to be pleasantly surprised by how good it is - even if it's also pretty mediocre.

I cannot recall the last third-person WWII game I played - it seems the exclusive den of first person shooters - but exploring mid-twentieth century Paris in start black and white, cut with the bright red Nazi armbands and banners is lovely. Equally enjoyable is the flavor the game injects into the proceedings - full of decently rounded characters and coquettish personality.

It's still pretty mediocre. The driving is okay, the shooting is okay, the method for climbing buildings is somewhat inefficient, but at least it highlights character - that is, Irish resistance fighter Sean Devlin is not Altair or Cole McGrath - it reminds us that he's not a superhero - he's just a rough-and-tumble guy getting in to some extraordinary shit.

Earlier today I received a mission from a French legionnaire - known only by the nickname he's earned for sporting a single hand; a metal claw protrudes from where his right wrist should be. Seems the appendage was cut off by a Nazi general and fed to the dogs before I sprung him from a POW camp, and he would appreciate some payback.

On my first few attempts of the mission, I tried to crash a bomb-laden car through the front gate of the Nazi compound to eliminate most of the resistance. Too noisy. Success favors a more subtle approach.

And so, deep in a Nazi-infested area of Paris, I start to climb. Once I've reached a good vantage, I wait, and watch. The general is on the prowl for prostitutes - his tastes veer towards the perverse - and as he strolls out of a heavily guarded area I scamper across the rooftops, leaping between alleys and waiting for the perfect moment.

He and his bodyguard are out of site of the other Nazis. It's now or never.

I drop from the rooftops and smack into the pavement behind his escort. A quick snap of the neck removes the obstacle, and now it's just the general, cowering and begging for his life. Of course, Sean Devlin ain't one for forgiveness.

"The Claw sends his regards," he growls in his Irish brogue, and finishes the job. Someone has seen me! The alarms wail to life, the mini-map flashes red and krauts begin to descent on my position.

I dash through the alleys, rip around a tight corner and find myself staring at a green safety spot. It's a prostitute's house, and Sean slips inside - fortunately, the denizens of Paris are sympathetic to the resistance.

Time passes, the sirens fade, and the door opens. Devlin steps outside, but the friendly woman emerges, smiles at him and places a cigarette between her lips. Clearly, she appreciated the game of Parcheesi they must have played to pass the time.

Ever the chivalrous gent, Devlin lights her cigarette.

The Saboteur.

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