Not only was I lucky enough to attend E3 this year, but I also got to get my grubby paws on a very early beta of Saboteur. Along with some very respected community leaders, I got to sit down with the Game Director - Trey Watkins, Lead Designer - Tom French, Art Director - Chris Hunt and Designer Fidda Persson. They talked about the ideas and making of the game - and not just about the fact that it has amazingly beautiful renditions of Paris during World War 2.
The game is set in Nazi occupied France during World War II. What's that I hear? "Oh noes, not another WWII shooter with Nazis!" No, no, relax there, Spanky. This is a sandbox game where the world is yours to explore and explode. Making use of the open world gameplay, you are presented with different ways to carry out your missions. If you should want to shoot your enemy in the nuts you can. Alternatively, you can sneak up behind him and go all stealth-ninja on his larynx.
Back on topic -
The main character is based on a real-life race car driver, William Grover-Williams who was a French/English Bugatti race car driver and ultimately became an agent for Britain's Special Operations Executive. You can read more about his story here.
According to French, Pandemic wanted to present a different type of hero in a WWII game. They wanted someone who was a regular guy, not a soldier. They wanted a guy who you could identify with, and who has a "cool" vibe. Think Steve McQueen, Clive Owen, and Bruce Willis. Not over-the-top cool, not too pretty and tough as nails.
When it was my turn to play, I was thrown right into the first mission. The controls were fairly easy to pick up, aside from the fact that I couldn't figure out how to jump. I'm more inclined to put that down to user-error (Sara DUR moment) than anything being wrong with the control scheme, though. (I was finally assisted in my moment of idiocy by Matt Everett, Pandemic's community manager, who said that he didn't step in before because he thought I was exploring the environment - Yes, I was having a blast exploring the 6' x 12' dark balcony that I was climbing around on. LOL <3 Matt!)
As I said before, it's a sandbox game. With any good sandbox game, there are cars - lots of them. Sean Devlin is a racecar driver. Add one plus one and you get CARNAGE! I did get to experience driving, or at least my idea of driving and it was FUN! You have a plethora of vehicles to choose from and the world destructible so a lot of fun was had - especially in some random field that had certain milk producing animals in it. You'll have to find out about that little delight yourselves.
One of the most interesting things about the game for me is the style. As you play through, you will see the scenery change. For instance, if you are in an area that is overrun with Nazis, the colors completely de-saturate apart from a few stark accents like bright red Nazi flags. Yet, if you are in a more free zone, the color becomes more realistic and "alive". As you help end the Nazi occupation through your missions, more of the world opens to color. It's an innovative concept and I look forward to seeing how it helps the storyline progress.
This is definitely not your typical sandbox, fast-paced shooter, insane game - it has a story, it has depth and it has style. I look forward to spending some quality time with Sean in December when the game comes out.