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Anthony Burch's blog
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Anthony Burch avatar 2:24 PM on 12.15.2009  (server time)
A new article, and thoughts on The Saboteur (and open world games in general).

Firstly, this is about the most prolific video game movie actors in Hollywood.

Two are supermodels.

The Saboteur is, to me, an incredibly enjoyable game that isn't actually all that good. While its controls are horrendous and certain aspects of the design make no sense (death has absolutely no consequence, for instance), it highlights something far, far more open world games should be doing: making the act of dicking around in the game world equally as fun (if not more so) than the linear, scripted missions.

In something of the same way that Red Faction Guerilla's "control" meter worked (where you were free to lower control by doing anything yo uwanted, be it blowing up propaganda signs or taking out huge-ass military installations), I like that the side-stuff in The Saboteur isn't completely divorced from the main gameplay save for cash rewards (as is the case in GTA, Assassin's Creed, 99% of all sandbox games). When you blow up a sniper tower in The Saboteur, it feels like you're not just doing it for the shit of it -- you're doing it to lower the Nazi presence and make it easier to handle that area.

Granted, this is what the game wants you to think, and not the reality -- once your alarm level gets high enough, one more sniper tower doesn't mean shit -- but I like the fact that more games are trying to unite the overworld and the game proper, rather than going the GTA route and just throwing linear missions in a nonlinear environment.

On an unrelated note, the simple act of escaping alarms, especially if you're going for the gold hiding-from-stuff perk, can be fucking epic. Successfully evading a level five alarm was one of the most enjoyable things I did in the game, and none of it was scripted.

That, really, is what appeals to me; putting the player in a position of power to determine what sort of experience they wish to have, and how, and when, and then complicating those intentions with enemies and varied terrain and so on and so forth. Games like The Saboteur and Red Faction Guerilla are a step in the right direction where open-world games are concerned. They're not there yet -- I still want to see a sandbox where the "main" missions and the supplementary ones are all but indistinguishable -- but for a game that suck as much as the Saboteur does, I'm having an awful lot of fun with it.

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