Exclusive Destructoid interview: Pandemic's Tom French on


Sean Devlin

We recently had the opportunity to talk with Tom French, Lead Designer at Pandemic Studios, about the developers newest project, The Saboteur (formerly known as simply Saboteur). Having released their fair share of titles over the years, Pandemic has focused their efforts on releasing unique open-world experiences.

For those that didn't notice the title pop up and vanish almost a year ago, The Saboteur is the studio's most recent open-world title. Set in France during the 1940s, you follow Sean Devlin as he seeks revenge, taking a few Nazis out on his way.

But don't take my word for it -- hit the jump for an interview with French.

Give us the run-down on The Saboteur. How would you describe it to those first hearing about the title?

Tom: If you haven’t heard about The Saboteur yet, here’s the quick-and-dirty: it’s a Pandemic Studios blockbuster, larger-than-life open-world action game that takes place in Paris, France, during the 1940s. That’s right, that means Nazis are swarming the city. You play as Sean Devlin, an Irishman who is in the wrong place at the wrong time, and something he cares about very deeply gets hurt. And when Sean gets hurt, he isn’t the kind of guy who tucks his tail between his legs and runs -- he fights back. So this is a personal revenge story set in Nazi-occupied France, and, because it’s an M-rated game, there is a very distinct style and edge to the experience that will appeal to more mature gamers.

Sean vs Nazi

Where did the idea for the plot come up, and how do you think it has developed from the original concept?

The concept for The Saboteur came from [Pandemic Studios co-founder and general manager] Andrew Goldman after hearing about a real-life guy by the name of William Grover-Williams, a Grand Prix racer during this same period in France who became a British SOE spy once World War II broke out. The idea that a race car driver would later be disrupting the Nazi machine from within was a vision that a lot of people here at the studio instantly became very excited about working on. But rather than simply fighting the war again, we wanted The Saboteur to tell a much more personal story. So Sean Devlin, our hero, has his roots as a mechanic-turned-racer, but his quest for blood in Paris is strictly for vengeance alone.

Seeing as The Saboteur will be open-world, and there have been many open-world games in the past, what are you looking to accomplish that will offer the player an experience unmatched by previous titles of this genre?

Above all, we’re working very hard to make The Saboteur story one of the most gripping narratives you’ve experienced in open-world games. Our main storyline is filled with intense character performances and missions that will take players on a blockbuster roller-coaster ride in an open-world setting never before experienced: 1940s Paris. When combining the dark and rich story with the style of the period and the world -- from jazz-filled brothels to the black-and-white art style -- this makes The Saboteur extremely special and unique indeed.

Concept art

It's obvious the art direction plays a key role in this game, so what are some of the things you guys are doing as a team to ensure this title is a one-of-a-kind -- that users will be able to identify screen shots before they even see a name attached to it?

The black and white visual palette in The Saboteur is more than just an art style -- it’s a huge game mechanic. At the moment Sean’s life changes for the worst and he begins down his path of revenge, all color is drained from the world. In addition to making for some rather unique and identifiable visuals, this is also a clue to the player on the location of Nazi oppression within France.

Do you feel the vision the team had a year ago is the same now? What are some of the major changes the game has had?

The vision for The Saboteur has remained remarkably intact since pre-production. Like all big projects, we’ve undergone story and script revisions and mission design enhancements, but the vast majority of our core gameplay systems and world map have changed very little. We’re laser-focused on delivering a fully entertaining blockbuster action experience set in Nazi-occupied Paris, and, as we near the finish line, we’re very excited to be sharing that with gamers.

Nazi occupation

Looking at the website, it’s clear that there is a strong Nazi presence throughout the game. How does this relate to the game world?

Given the time and place -- 1940s, and France -- Nazis are everywhere. Early in the game, the player will experience the Nazi invasion into France first-hand, and, from that point forward, it’s a constant element that you must deal with. In the heart of the game space is Paris -- the city of lights -- and seeing this gorgeous city draped with iron gates, barbed-wire fences, search lights and even Zeppelins cruising overhead is a fascinating juxtaposition and makes for some very extremely fun and compelling gameplay.

Are you looking to take down the Nazi regime?

To be honest, Sean couldn’t care less about the war effort. He just wants vengeance -- to set right the wrongs made against him. And he’s the kind of guy you don’t want to cross. So the fact that the Nazi army stands in his path means that many members of the Third Reich shall meet a cruel death.


The Sabotuer is set to be published by Electronic Arts for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC later this year.

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Daniel Husky Lingen
Daniel Husky Lingen   gamer profile




Filed under... #Destructoid Originals #PS3 #Xbox 360



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