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10:58 AM on 08.01.2012

Expectations, Emotions and The Saboteur

The Saboteur was an open world action game set in nazi occupied Paris during the second world war, and was the last game developed by Pandemic studios before their closure in 2009. The game received mostly favourable reviews but earned relatively poor sales (managing only 850,000 sales as of July 2012 according to Many reviewers criticised the games repetitive gameplay, which mostly boils down to "break into Parisian landmark, blow up a thing, kill a boatload of Nazi's." This formula however, is what makes the saboteur possibly the biggest bait and switch in entertainment history.

There's more to SeŠn than killin' Nazis

This landmark/explosion/Nazi massacre formula quickly becomes what the player expects from each mission. From the very beginning of the game the player begins to work to work their way up the Parisian landmark food chain from the Champs-…lysťes to the the Louvre, waiting eargerly until they can apply the formula to the granddaddy of all Parisian land marks: The Eiffel Tower.

Pictured: Not Blackpool

As players reach the end of the game they apply parts two and three of the formula to a German munitions factory, after which they are duly informed by one of their SOE chums that the game's arch-villain has lost his mind and taken up residence in the Eiffel Tower.

This is it the moment you've been waiting for, the reason you bought the game, to kill Nazi's on the Eiffel Tower. Sure you're pretty sick of the formula by now, but you tell yourself this time it will be different, after all it's the Eiffel Tower. This is why in my opinion the Saboteur is better at extracting an emotional response from me than any other game that I've played (besides maybe journey). Every moment of gameplay prior to this has been spent building your expectations for what will happen at the tower. The formula has been applied to the majority of missions to the point of overuse, all for the express purpose of building these expectations, and boy are they about to be shattered.

Shattered in much the same way as that man's jaw.

You at long last reach the Tower. you draw your weapon expecting to be met by hordes of Nazi henchmen but none arrive. All that can be heard the faint sound of a piano wafting down from the top of the tower and a repeating thud in the distance. Curious you go to investigate, upon closer inspection you discover that the thud is coming from Nazi's throwing themselves from the Tower. What could be so horrific that Nazis, the global symbol of evil, would rather kill themselves then face it.

Clue: Not this.

The next order of business is to find out who is playing that piano. You begin to make your way up the tower, weapon drawn waiting for that inevitable swarm of Nazis, but they never come. You at last reach the restaurant at the top of the tower and the sight which greets you is unlike anything you've seen in the game before.

Over at the piano in the centre of the room a gestapo General is slumped half heartedly hitting the keys with one hand, from the ceiling hang the bodies of his comrades. You approach the general expecting a fight, instead he whispers "He's upstairs", referring of course to the games villain, Dierker.

You make your way up the stairs passing a Nazi playing a one man game of Russian roulette, SeŠn reassures him that he'll get the right chamber eventually.

Upon exiting the upper level of the restaurant you confront Dierker after he kills one of his subordinates. The player is then given the choice of whether or not to kill Dierker. Should the player hesitate Dierker will turn and wave before jumping from the tower, not wanting to give the player the satisfaction of ending his life. My description really doesn't do the restaurant sequence justice and it is best seen first hand. Here's a link for those interested (although in this version the player kills Dierker). Skip to about 4 mins in

And here ends one of the most unexpected and emotional moments in all of gaming. The entire game had been developed by Pandemic as one giant bait and switch, which is pulled off masterfully, either that or it's just one big coincidence.   read

3:17 PM on 03.21.2012

District Dafoe opening monologue


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