First Level: The Saboteur

If you were expecting an update of Durell’s monochromatic side-on platformer/fighter then you’ll be disappointed – despite Pandemic’s ambitious sandbox adventure being partially in black and white, the two games couldn’t be further apart in scale and scope.  Of course, even the most brazen of Spectrum fans would appreciate that the 1985 game with which this EA published title shares its name has lost much of its charm now – it’s too difficult, for starters, not something that particularly applies to what we’ve played so far of what amounts to being the last big game of 2009.

The two are completely different games, of course, and Pandemic’s saboteur is one steeped in a foreboding sense of fate as the opening’s colourful and rather innocent introductory levels give way to the dark, oppressive single visual tones that signify Nazi occupied Paris during the Second World War.  There’s a quick sampling of this almost comic book overlay once the PS3 has performed its mandatory 7 minute install, teasing you with death and destruction before chronologically tripping you up for a nicely paced set-up sequence, the Trophies coming quick and steady.

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Assisted ultimately by the French Resistance and British Intelligence, player character Sean, a happy-go-lucky Irish lad with a thick accent and acutely doffed cap slowly finds himself charged with rescuing the people of Paris from the Germans.  In doing so, colour is gradually restored (think inFamous) and the people of France regain their will to fight, leaving you to move onto other areas accepting missions and taking out key Nazi officers as the story unfolds.  This being a First Level, much of where the story is heading is still under the fog of war, but its solid enough so far.

I’ll leave the finer details for the review, which will hopefully be with you by the weekend, but it’s worth mentioning that the game appears to have plenty going for it for fans of the sandbox genre – the fighting is great fun, driving tricky but masterable and the acting as hammy as you’d expect.  Visually it’s all pretty good, and the character models look great close up – the game comes with a code to unlock nudity (and a few other goodies) but our review copy didn’t, so I can’t comment on the game’s currently covered nipples – you’ll have to buy it first hand to get those.

For those looking for something a little bit different The Saboteur might be just what you’re after this Christmas – our early playtest suggests that the storyline might very well stick to genre staples such as double crossing, escort missions and an explosive climax but the game’s distinct style means that everything looks fresh at least.  There’s a cool ‘perk’ system that’s just starting to shine and the weaponry is hotting up already – but we’ll save all that for the review.  The Saboteur is out this Friday, and is available from Amazon, ShopTo and Play.com.

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