A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this game is rated "Mature" for strong violence (with blood), some nudity and suggestive language, plenty of profanity, and images of alcohol and cigarettes. The violence and sexy imagery is not appropriate for anyone under 17, but it's not out of context with the theme of this game -- sabotaging the Germans during an occupied Paris in the '40s. While not pushing the envelope, there is a lot of mature content here.
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What's it about?
Just as movie goers soaked up Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds, a fictional tale of revenge during World War II, Pandemic Studios' THE SABOTEUR lets video gamers experience a less-than-historically-accurate-yet-still-enjoyable recreation of Nazi-occupied France in the early '40s. In this "open-world" action game -- meaning you can roam freely throughout Paris, on foot or in vehicles -- you play as the young Sean Devlin, an Irish race car driver who seeks vengeance against the Nazi regime. The backdrop to the compelling story is introduced over the first 90 minutes or so, and you'll also get a feel for the game's mechanics, such as walking around and talking with characters, driving cars and trucks, climbing buildings, scaling rooftops and fighting enemies with guns, flamethrowers, explosives, or hand-to-hand fisticuffs. While working as a saboteur, you'll also collaborate with allies, including the French Resistance and British Intelligence, while blowing up petroleum stations, armored vehicles, and zeppelins, derailing trains, and engaging in other acts of sabotage against the German army.
Is it any good?
Yes, but The Saboteur isn't an "A"-grade game. While varied, the missions aren't horribly original, plus the computer-controlled enemies aren't the smartest, therefore the missions are on the easy side (which might frustrate seasoned players looking for a challenge). Hand-to-hand combat and some weapon handling isn't as intuitive as it should be. But the game does have its strengths, plus those familiar with Paris architecture might appreciate many landmarks you can play through, including the Eiffel Tower, Champs-Élysées, and the Notre Dame Cathedral. As a stylistic decision, the game turns mostly black and white when the Nazis take over the country at the start of the game, implying an oppressive state, but as you continue to fight back, the world becomes more colorful, or liberated. The Saboteur is a fun and attractive single-player adventure that, while not revolutionizing the crowded open-world action/adventure genre, manages to entertain with a gripping story, great-looking environments, and fun missions.
Platform Notes: All three versions of the game look and play the same, but the PC game ships with the extra (and racy) content, whereas that same content must be downloaded on the console versions.
Online interaction: There is no multiplayer component but you can download extra content online which includes topless women.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how this game is similar to Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds: An over-the-top fictional take on WWII, where revenge is taken out on Nazis during the French occupation. Interesting comparison? Are games that let you go back and rewrite history more rewarding than contemporary open-world games, such as the Grand Theft Auto variety?