The Saboteur iPhone Review
Originally released on consoles and the PC last December, The Saboteur was the swan song of developer Pandemic, which shuttered its doors shortly after the game’s release. While it was not without some issues, it was still a unique take on the sandbox genre, offering a stylish art design and some pretty exciting levels here and there. Now, some months after the fact, a mobile version is now available for the iPhone and iPod Touch.
Developed by Hands-On Mobile, The Saboteur bears little resemblance to the console game on which it’s based. The only things that it seems to pull from Pandemic’s original title are the setting, lead character and the basic concept of killing Nazis and setting up explosions. Like in the proper console title, The Saboteur puts you in control of Sean Delvin, an Irish racecar mechanic who becomes involved with the French Resistance in Nazi-occupied France. As in the console version, you’ll plant bombs, engage in combat with Nazi soldiers with both knives and guns
Playing through the game’s stages is not terribly compelling. The controls are very finicky, and the unresponsive virtual D-Pad makes it quite difficult to line up shots or even navigate quickly through the game’s stages, something you’ll have to do in order to escape from Nazi pursuers and get away from explosions. The levels are pretty boring and repetitive, and lack the cool objectives on offer from the console version of the game. Setting up bombs is an interesting concept and you’ll spend a lot of time rushing through the stages to avoid the ensuing explosions, but the wonky D-Pad is a pain and will result in a lot of unnecessary deaths for your character.
One of the most striking elements of the original console version of The Saboteur was the black-and-white stylized art direction. The game make sparse use of color to a great effect, and made the game stand out in the crowded action genre, at least aesthetically. Bafflingly, the mobile version of the game doesn’t even try to employ this design style, opting for full-color characters and backgrounds, albeit quite drab and boring browns and grays throughout the levels. The 2D sprite-based aesthetic makes for a game that is far from being one of the best looking on the platform.
The Saboteur does very little to bring the excitement or the feel of the original console game to a handheld platform. The weak controls and dull missions make it a frustrating experience more often than not, and the weak aesthetic will do little to bring you in, making for a missed opportunity.