On Me Way, Then
When I first heard of The Saboteur, I was immediately intrigued. An ardent Assassin's Creed series fan and lover of open sandbox games with a tight story, myself, as well as a fan of historical period settings, it was impossible not to fall in love with the concept. Still, I was somewhat unsure of what to expect from it. It's a hard sell from a text only description, and a new franchise is always a hard sell without an existing cult following. Fresh off my Assassin's Creed II high, I picked up The Saboteur, knowing fully that after the masterpiece of the new installment of Assassin's Creed, whatever game I played next would feel like an overwhelming disappointment.
My first impressions were that of a mixed bag. The music and atmosphere had a lot of charm, but coming straight from the beautifully flowing control scheme and tight locomotion of Ezio, the controls felt stubborn and awkward. Sean Devlin, our anti-hero and titular saboteur, moves with a bit of a shuffle to get his balance before moving forward and kicks out with a wide stride making a slight move forward sort of an awkward forward leap. Characters and objects seem substantially larger in scale than our Renaissance friend, consuming more of the screen, and from the narrow gray and brown color pallet of Florence, occupied Paris felt as though illuminated in clown colors, even in the black and white portions due to a heavy blue base and stark yellow, blue, and red highlights.
My first tutorial mission involved being dragged into the dark street and asked to blow up a Nazi fuel depot. The task is uneventful and feels dullard compared to the heavy intrigue of Venice. And my snap judgment of the game falls in line with what I have since read from so many other critics about this game. That was over a month, and countless hours of gameplay ago. To put the cart before the horse a bit and place a teaser of the verdict on page one, my final analysis is to be that The Saboteur's biggest problem is neither the late Pandemic, nor EA; It's Ubisoft Montreal, and some pretty cruddy timing to hit the market.
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