When I first heard that someone was making a game set in occupied Paris, casting the player as a member of the French resistance, my imagination ran away with me. Like everyone else I've played a lot of World War II videogames, and I'm sick of brainlessly shooting Nazis.
Deep in the Los Angeles branch of Electronic Arts there is an office where developers fear to tread. And in that dark, fearful room sits EA's vice president of in-game boob representation. It was here that Pandemic must have been ushered when Saboteur was in the planning stages. They would have sat in front of this impassive and unreadable man, and explained what they wanted to do. Create five square kilometres of Nazi-occupied France, rewrite history so that an Irish racing driver kick-started the Gallic resistance, adopt a beautiful art design in which German occupied areas are rendered in black and white with patches of primary colour shining through in vibrant Sin City style... all the good stuff. Then the vice president of in-game boob representation would have lent heavily on his desk, rested his chin on his hands, and shut his eyes as he made his decision. "Your game..." he'd begin, pausing for dramatic effect. "... must have boobs." As so it was decreed, and as so it became form.
"We didn't want to make a World War II game," says Tom French, lead designer on The Saboteur. Things don't appear to have gone according to plan. The Saboteur is set in the early 1940s, in France, and is mainly about killing Nazis. If they meant to deliver a tennis game or an an innovative new twist on the Cooking Mama genre, a rethink may be required.