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The Saboteur can be summed up simply as Mercenaries but with Those Wacky Nazis or as Assassin's Creed meets Grand Theft Auto; though that's a bit simplistic. The Saboteur is a Wide Open Sandbox game set in Gay Paree during World War II.
The player takes on the role of Sean Devlin, an Irish mechanic turned race car driver turned saboteur, as he attempts to avenge his friend's death and roll back the Nazi occupation. One of its most distinctive features is that the Nazi-occupied sections of the city are black and white (with occasional red and blue), presumably inspired by Sin City, while sections where Sean has effectively disrupted the Nazis' control are fully colored, and the citizens will aid Devlin in his fight.
Sadly for fans of Pandemic Studios, the game proved to be their "swan song" and EA promptly liquidated them soon after, a move that unsurprisingly lead to untold hate directed towards EA not helped in the least by the fact that Pandemic was only bought over due to its past success, only to cease to exist under its new owners.
The game also became notable in that it's incentive for buying it new over pre-owned was literally a code for topless strippers.
- Action Girl: Skylar St. Claire.
- Also Veronique later on as part of her Character Development.
- AKA-47: Played straight and averted, with both guns and cars. One example is the MP40 being correctly referred to by name, but the Kubelwagen was renamed "Sturmwagen".
- Alternate History: The French Resistance effectively forces the Nazis out of France, reducing them to a minor token presence with virtually no power, over a year before the Normandy landings. The war plays out significantly differently in other ways as well - Vichy France does not exist, and the German invasion of France is a rapid, relatively easy assault that meets virtually no resistance, rather than the month-long pitched battle it was in Real Life.
- It goes well beyond that: not only are there no British, Dutch, or Polish units stationed along the border, but there are no French units stationed there either - in fact, there is no evidence of a French military even existing beyond a few Foreign Legion prisoners you rescue in one mission.
- In short, let's just say that historical accuracy was not one of the developers' main goals.
- America Saves the Day: One of the rare WW 2 games to avert this, as the game takes place before the United States actually entered the war - in fact, there aren't even any American characters, although there are plenty of American voice actors.
- Anachronism Stew: The game manages to make quite a hash of WW 2, featuring weapons that were introduced into service years after it takes place. Most visibly are the MP44s commonly carried by SS troopers (introduced 1943), and the Panzerschreck (1943). France is also littered with V1 and V2 launch sites (first launched in 1944, in a bit of historical irony, it was aimed at liberated Paris).
- Artistic License History: Basically, the developers weren't even trying to be historically accurate; they just went with whatever looked cool. Be sure to remember the mantra, because you'll be reciting it quite frequently if you have more than a passing familiarity with WW 2 history.
- The in-game rendition of the Trocadéro Palace across the river from the Eiffel Tower was actually demolished in 1937, and replaced by the Palais de Chaillot, long before the Nazi Occupation.
- In one early mission you are asked to obtain some antibiotics. Whilst antibiotics existed before the war they were not referred to as antibiotics until 1942, two years after the events of the game.
- Perhaps Justified though, for the same reason that we don't have the french characters speaking purely french.
- There was also a bit of name confusion on part of the developers with regard to the German firearm designation scheme, the result of which is the fictional MP60, which is neither a submachinegun (Maschinenpistole), nor was it introduced in service in 1960 (and then presumably traveled back to the time of WW 2 via a temporal vortex).
- Asian and Nerdy: Dr. Kwong.
- Back Seats Are Just for Show
- Back Stab: With a stolen SS dagger, no less!
- The Touch of Death. Sean stabs the hapless victim so quickly and quietly that he can slip away before they topple over.
- Badass Preacher: Father Denis.
- Benevolent Architecture: Most buildings have little protrusions on them that help Sean climb.
- Betty and Veronica: Veronique and Skylar.
- Bilingual Bonus: If you happen to speak and/or read German and/or French, read the roadsigns and try to eavesdrop on the Nazis' conversations. Some of them are pure gold!
- Book Dumb: Sean. Bishop:"Have you ever heard of atomic fission before, Sean?" Sean: "Meh...I never was one for poofy cocktails."
- (At the time, you would have had to be a real egghead to know much about the then-fledgling concept of nuclear physics, but...).
- There's also the "What the fuck is 'radar'?" conversation, and several others. Sean Devlin really isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer, generally speaking.
- Justified here as well, as the British referred to it as RDF (when they referred to it at all, seeing as it was their one big advantage over the Germans at the time the story takes place) and thus Sean would either know it by a different name or not know about it at all.
- Also, by this point of history, only the British are making widespread use of the radar. And they are keeping the details secret for obvious reason. Most people would not know what the technology is or what it does.
- Border Patrol: Entering the war zone, striped on the edge of the map, will get you attacked by planes which do much more damage than they usually do.
- Boring but Practical: Once you get the silenced weapons, you'll be using them for most of the rest of the game, except when it involves fighting the Terror Squad.
- British Accents: Well, the British SOE is involved, so...
- Wilcox: Glasgow. Probably the best voice acting in the game. His voice actor is from Glasgow
- Bishop: Queen's English. Isn't great, but is at least believable.
- Sean: Northern Irish. Sounds a bit fake, and occasionally disappears.
- Skylar: Queen's English. Sounds ridiculous.
- Broken Bridge: Subverted. There are Nazi checkpoints that won't let you pass unless you possess the right forged papers (= are far enough in the story), but you can just crash through guns blazing or bypass them via stealth.
- Character Development: Veronique eventually evolves from a from a non-action bystander to a competent soldier and leader in her own right.
- Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Completely averted. Although the player character is Irish, the French Resistance are your primary allies, and are generally depicted as stone-cold badasses to the last man. In the prologue, when the war is just breaking out and the player is fleeing the Nazi invasion, it's possible to see French farmers rushing out to fight the Germans despite being armed with nothing more than farm implements and old hunting shotguns.
- It's also played weirdly straight in that, in the Saboteur's Alternate History, France has no standing army - when the Germans invade the only people fighting back against them are policemen and armed civilians.
- Combat Pragmatist: Sean has no problem with sucker punching an opponent, throwing them off a tower, or kicking them in the crotch to win a fight.
- Cool Car: The Aurora. Many more count if you're a fan of 1940's style cars.
- Special mention goes also to the Altair. It looks gorgeous, goes like stink, handles well, and it's so easy to obtain that you can have it two minutes after the sandbox opens up. It will therefore be your car of choice up to the relatively late point in the game when you get the Aurora, and due to its much better looks and friendlier handling possibly even afterwards.
- Critical Existence Failure: Cows don't even move if they are injured, but they gib into pieces when they die.
- Cryptic Background Reference: Any conversation Sean has with Skylar & Vittore that does not refer to their current predicament. Any mention of Sean's past is this really. Why can't Sean return to Ireland? Who are the enemies he met there? Why was he in Budapest when he met Skylar? What did Sean's father do that got him kicked out of Ireland?
- Day of the Jackboot: In the final prologue mission, you flee to Paris as the Nazi war machine bears down upon France. A cut-scene follows showing the Nazis marching through Paris, complete with saluting and sieg heil-ing.
- Deliberately Monochrome: Areas without the "Will to Fight" appear in monochrome, although with splashes of colour. Mostly, the red areas of the Nazis and Blue parts of the Resistance show clearly. This effect passes on to blood spatter and the paintjob on cars, though.
- Double Entendre: In a flashback near the beginning of the game, Dierker tells Veronique that soon the women of France will learn to appreciate the taste of a purebred German bratwurst.
- Dressing as the Enemy: One of the approaches to complete missions, and probably the one you will end up using the most.
- It's a bit weird though that Sean doesn't even bother to take their pants or armbands, making him stand out enough that it's no wonder enemies can see through his disguise easily.
- Well, if he would ever be seen while disguising himself, he wouldn't want to die without pants, I suppose.
- Fridge Brilliance: The lack of a swastika is what causes enemies to figure out hes not a Nazi when hes near them. The Gestapo are trained to look for the small details (and are thus able to pierce your disguises better)
- It's a bit weird though that Sean doesn't even bother to take their pants or armbands, making him stand out enough that it's no wonder enemies can see through his disguise easily.
- Due to the Dead: When Vittore dies Sean closes his eyes.
- Elite Mooks: The SS troopers (At least compared to the standard mooks) and the Terror Squad.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: If you get the Alarm level up to 5, you're in deep trouble. The "alarm zone" covers the entire game map, and there are only two hiding spots in the entire game to evade this; one at the northern-most tip of the map, the other in the bar at the top of the Eiffel Tower. While you're struggling to reach either, airplanes will appear and start strafing you wherever you go, in addition to the zeppelins, Wulf Tanks, and terror squads trying to kill you.
- Fan Service: The game starts with a stripper wearing nothing but a bottom and pasties. Not only that, your main hideout is in the girls' changing rooms. And to make it even better if you download the DLC it will not only take away the pasties, you will also get 4 stripteases.
- Femme Fatale: Skylar, but inverted as she's on Sean's side. It is then played straight with Franziska.
- For the Evulz: Kurt Dierker is a comically evil Complete Monster. It's so over the top it's amazing.
- French Jerk: Subverted, as Jules, Veronique, and Luc are all Sean's friends (though somewhat grudgingly in Luc's case). Jules lampshades it while he and Sean are sneaking into Doppelsieg: "I'm French, I'm supposed to be rude."
- Freud Was Right: The Nazi's massive cannon based in the Panthéon dome, complete with Freudian analysis by Dr. Kwong. The mission to destroy it is even called "Deutschland Uber Phallus."
Dr. Kwong: The cannon's massive barrel thrusts into the sky above Paris like an engorged pillar of masculine flesh! While the women of the city cower in the eclipsing shadow.
- Goomba Stomp: It's entirely possible to hurt if not outright kill people by jumping on them.
- Handsome Lech: Sean.
- He Who Fights Monsters: Part of Veronique's Character Development. Averted, as she winds up turning around.
- Hello Boys: The very first thing you see in the game is a stripper wearing pasties. If you have a new copy of the game, it came with a code to remove said pasties.
- Hey, It's That Voice!: For once, you'll take a minute to realise that Steve Blum voiced Father Denis instead of picking him out instantly like any other role.
- Hyperspace Arsenal: Not quite as outrageous as in other games, but Sean can still carry far more weaponry and explosives than would ever fit into his bag or coat. In missions in which he is not wearing a coat with an inner pocket, he is also able to pull an infinite number of cigarettes out of his ear.
- I Cannot Self-Terminate: When The Nazis attack the Catacombs HQ and, they detonate the critical cavern wall and Luc is trapped under three, huge boulders. After the soldiers retreat to get reinforcements, Sean and Veronique try to pry him free, but it's clear they won't make it on time. Luc urges Sean to shoot him, because he'd break under torture and would die anyhow. Sean can't bring himself to pull the trigger, but Veronique does it after giving Luc a Last Kiss.
- Incredibly Obvious Bomb: Usually, though there is one notable aversion with Veronique's "package."
- Infinity+1 Sword: Any of the "Terror" weapons count as this, once you unlock them or scavenge them in the field. They all have enormous amounts of ammunition, can kill in only one or two hits, and are generally very nasty.
- Jiggle Physics: Skylar's rack jiggles so much, you might think it's sentient.
- La Résistance: The original La Résistance, no less.
- Large Ham: Kurt Dierker.
- Lethal Chef: Sean if his comment near the end of the mission at the Gestapo HQ when the building goes up in flames is to be believed.
Sean This reminds me of when I tried to make breakfast.
- Locomotive Level: One mission has Sean rescuing a Nazi defector from a train.
- Ludicrous Gibs: If you drive your car through a herd of cows, they will explode into bloody chunks. Oddly, you will also get the same effect if you punch them.
- Male Gaze: The very first shot in the game is of some boobs. If you have the DLC, there is toggle in the option menu to remove the pasties leaving the dancers topless. Not that the pasties leave much to the imagination anyway...
- Monumental Battle: The Nazis transform nearly every prominent Parisian landmark into a base of some form; and in order to inspire the areas nearby, Sean must rout the Nazis from them.
- The Hotel De Ville is used as the Gestapo HQ.
- The entirety of the Ile de la Cité (including Notre-Dame and the Conciergerie) is used as a prison.
- The Panthéon is used as a platform for a Howitzer in its Dome and weapons caches inside.
- The Eiffel Tower is used as a temporary command post by Dierker as the city plunges into revolt against the Nazis. Sean must "fight" Dierker on the third floor observation deck.
- Mook Maker: Small barracks littered throughout France will spawn enemy troops when alarm is sounded. Very annoying, even more so since they're not considered freeplay targets and so gain you no monetary reward upon destruction. In an interesting inversion, resistance troops come to your aid out of buildings in areas where color has been restored.
- Nazi Gold: You can find "Nazi gold bars" in certain crates.
- Noodle Incident: Whatever it was that got Sean kicked out of Ireland, it involved a huge explosion and a lot of fire.
- No Swastikas: Averted. The swastika features prominently on flags and banners on lampposts, landmarks and occupied structures, as well as on Nazi armbands, tanks and cars.
- In early trailers and screenshots, all swastikas were replaced with the Iron Cross (because you can't show swastikas on broadcast television).
- The game does, however, go out of its way to not portray Hitler himself in any way. The famous poster of Hitler holding the Nazi flag is reproduced in the game, but features a generic Wehrmacht soldier instead. However, Hitler's personal standard is liberally sprinkled throughout many parts of the game.
- Oirish: Sean Devlin.
- Player Headquarters: Having correctly deduced that Most Gamers Are Male, the developers took the next logical step and placed the player's hideout inside a strip club.
- Though it is also Hidden in Plain Sight since the club is also a major Nazi hangout.
- Public Domain Artifact: On one mission, you're sent to recover an artifact that the Germans are trying to get their hands on. It's strongly implied to be the Holy Grail, although you never actually see it.
- If you listen to the conversations around that part of town, the people suspect that the Nazis found Napoleon's treasure.
- Rated "M" for Money: The game is rated M; however, as a bonus, if the game is bought new (instead of used), the player gets free Downloadable Content which makes the various strippers in-game topless.
- Real Song Theme Tune: "Feeling Good" by Nina Simone.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The game's plot revolves around this.
- Roof Hopping: Sean is on an Assassin's Creed level of climbing(See Benevolent Architecture, above), but not so much with Le Parkour.
- Scenery Porn: Climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower, and gaze upon Paris below you. Doubly so when you've inspired the entire city, seeing it in full colour.
- Screwed by the Network: The developer, Pandemic, was bought up Electronic Arts due to their success with Mercenaries, but the sequel to that game bombed badly. As a result, the dev team was broken up after being allowed to finish this title.
- Sequence Breaking: Most notably in a mission that expects you to run an obstacle course of narrow alleys and back yards crawling with Nazi guards, snipers, officers, and machinegun nests in order to destroy a large artillery piece atop a building. While the timer is fairly generous, it's still pretty difficult whether you go by stealth or slaughter. Or you can drive around the back and climb the building...
- Serious Business: During the race near the beginning of the game, when you are in second place, the announcer suddenly goes from commentating to yelling "This illiterate Irish upstart threatens to besmirch the honor of the German people!"
- Shout-Out: One to Raiders of the Lost Ark when you overhear some soldiers talking about how "Major Toht" is going to Nepal searching for a staff artifact. Another to Assassin's Creed in the form of the car called the "Altair," AKA "The Flying Eagle" (very appropriate, considering this game copies Assassin's Creed's climbing, though it manages to make the exercise mildly frustrating).
- Mission names contain a ton of these: Symphony of Destruction, The Bavarian Candidate., Set Up Us The Bomb, Fahrenheit Four-Fifty, Grand Theft Limo, Needs of the few... or the One, Blazing Saddles
- There's a rather hilarious shoutout to the vantage points in Assassin's Creed - this game has scenic vantage points too, complete with the 'leap of faith' areas with the birds. However, if you jump off of them, instead of landing safely in a conveniently-placed hay cart, you plummet down to the ground flailing wildly and pancake into the Earth at high speed.
- It's even lampshaded by Sean himself on one occasion: "No thanks, I'll take the stairs."
- Smug Snake: Bishop. The only thing holding him back from being a Magnificent Bastard is that, well, he's a very unlikeable guy.
- Splash of Color: In the black-and-white zones, Nazis and some of their equipment will have red areas (usually their armbands). Resistance-affiliated people usually have some color of blue clothing that shows up in these areas (Luc's blue turtleneck, or Veronique's blue pendant).
- Soft Water: Feel free to leap from the top of the Eiffel Tower: as long as you land in that 2 metre deep kidney shaped pond next to it, you'll be fine! Of course, it's sometimes funnier to deliberately miss it and splat into the pavement.
- Sophisticated As Hell: Father Denis. He usually talks like you would expect a priest to do in this kind of setting, but he actually swears a lot when it comes to it.
My son. In the name of all there is holy: Blow his fucking head off!
- Source Music: During the final conflict in The Eiffel Tower, a general plays a sorrowful piano rendition of Feeling Good, which sets the tone for the final scene. If you shoot him while he is playing the music will stop leaving The Eiffel Tower in eerie silence.
- Space Compression: And how. The game world includes pretty much all of France along with a small bit of Germany, with coasts in the north and south. About 80% of it is taken up by Paris, which is a five minutes' drive from the border with Germany.
- Stuff Blowing Up: The trademark of a saboteur, of course. And there is a lot of stuff to blow up. Each major zone of Paris has hundreds of possible targets, and there's more out in the country surrounding it. This is important for a couple of reasons: you get contraband points for every target you take out, but missions become easier when the mission area no longer has annoying sniper towers surrounding it.
- Stupid Jetpack Hitler: The Terror Squad troops, who have Powered Armor and several different ridiculously massive fictional guns, including a fully-automatic shotgun and the 'MP-60', which is essentially a man-portable minigun.
- Title Drop: Enemy soldiers will occasionally outright refer to you as 'The Saboteur' (in German, of course).
- The Alleged Car: In the beginning, the only cars the Resistance garages have. They are also the only cars with 4 civilians inside.
- The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: Occasionally, the Resistance will contact you by having an NPC run up to you in the street and pass you a note. If you kill this NPC, Sean remarks: "I guess that's what they mean by shooting the messenger. They can chat me up later."
- When Sean smokes a cigarette he usually takes it from a pack that he stores in the inner pocket of his jacket. In missions where he isn't wearing the jacket he has a different animation, taking the cigarette from behind his ear.
- Not to mention the fact that you get a "Mission Failed" screen RIGHT AFTER THE CREDITS if you kill Dierker during the Saarsbrüchen Grand Prix (Possible by getting the gold Mayhem Perk before sleeping in the Belle)
- The Guards Must Be Crazy: The only reason for sounding an alarm is seeing and identifying an intruder. Gunfire, explosions, and heaps of dead bodies are A-okay with the guards, who deal with them by congregating at the site of the disturbance and performing a ritualistic group dance that consists of turning one's head from side to side while standing around in a half-crouched position for half a minute. Once the gods of watchfulness have been thus appeased, it's business as usual.
- Sean can take the uniform of a sniper while being shot at on a sniper tower, and guards will stop shooting.
- The Mole: The candidates are: Luc (arrogant bastard), Bryman (a bit too helpful), Santos (profiteer), Skylar (femme fatale), and The Kesslers (supposedly defected). The mole apparently has complete access to all the information of the French Resistance.
- It turns out that Santos is the mole. This comes around when the nazis invade the catacombs near the end of the game.
- The Obi-Wan: Vittore is so fatherly it's no surprise when he finally dies.
- Theme Tune Cameo: Nina Simone's rendition of "Feeling Good" shows up during the final mission at The Eiffel Tower, played by a broken Nazi on a piano. It's quite probably one of the most poignant and haunting moments in the game.
- Those Wacky Nazis: Of course. There are also several soldiers who can be snuck up upon in order to listen to some Enemy Chatter , and of course Cpl. "Spitzie" Spitz.
Cpl. Spitz: My name is Cpl. Spitz. I have ein package for Herr Bauer. It contains whiskey, sausage and porno magazine.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: You can climb to the tallest chimney you can find which has a group of nazi soldiers nearby, and then just stand there having a smoke like a boss. Nobody gives a royal damn. Now walk a step or two so you jump down and grab the ledge where you were just standing, while the soldiers keep looking at you. Hilarity Ensues.
- Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Killing civilians will temporary get you negative perks with more and more severe consequences, up to the point where French resistance members will hunt you down (for 10 minutes).
- Villainous Breakdown: Dierker falls apart when you confront him at the Eiffel Tower. He says that history will vindicate them for defending against the "mongrel hordes," tells Sean they're Not So Different, and ends, nearly crying, by saying "We're going to hell, aren't we, Irishman?"
- Violent Glaswegian: Wilcox.
- Walk It Off: The screen will go completely red, and then into an artistic greyscale, and then back to red as you die.
- Weaponized Landmark: The occupying Nazis erect a huge Howitzer cannon in the dome of the Panthéon.
- Wide Open Sandbox
- With This Pistol, you will defeat the entire German occupation force!
- Justified as Sean and Luc are building a resistance from scratch and the arms dealers (if Santos is anything to go by) are a bunch of money-grubbing bastards.
- Zero Effort Boss: The last confrontation with Dierker is essentially you riding an elevator up the Eiffel Tower in order to execute him with a single shot, without him ever trying putting up any kind of a fight. He will even jump off the tower himself if you remain idle for some time, sparing you the trouble of killing him