The Saboteur – Review (PS3)

 

The Saboteur held much promise – I remember watching the trailers and seeing developer diaries/reveals on gametrailers.com and thinking this could be amazing.

As I mentioned after my brief hands-on at the Eurogamer Expo prior to the game’s release, it seemed that it wouldn’t quite hit the heights expected.

And that proved to be the case with the full version of The Saboteur.

Pandemic Studios, who also made the fun but flawed Mercenaries series of games (among others) has since been shut down by parent company EA and The Saboteur certainly feels like a little more time to polish may have helped matters.

The game takes place in and around Paris in the 1940’s with the Nazis occupying the majority of the city and its surrounding areas.

You control Sean Devlin, a race driving Irishman, who gets involved with the French resistance following a traumatic experience at the hands of the Gestapo.

The characterisation in the game seems to be laid on a little thick with regards to accents and stereotypes with your character in particular suffering from some ridiculous dialogue. However as long as you appreciate that the game isn’t taking itself seriously this isn’t too much of a problem.

The story is your usual resistance takes on controlling power type affair and you’ll find yourself in numerous scrapes across a campaign the spans almost 11 hours of gameplay.

In the positive you will almost always have a choice in how matters play out – although limited to stealth (disguising yourself as a Nazi to infiltrate a target) or force it’s nice to have the chance to mix things up.

And the presentation style is fabulous – occupied areas remain in black and white except for the red of the Nazis, with colour coming back to the area whenever the resistance sees them off.

The Saboteur is a game that I feel should be played but if you are looking for a high quality experience, this isn’t it. The odd bug here and there and a general unfinished feeling hamper the general gameplay but if you’re willing to give it a shot The Saboteur is worth a rent.

Rating: 7/10

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Inglourious Basterds – Review (Film)

Inglourious Basterds was a labour of love for Quentin Tarantino. The acclaimed director took more than a decade to craft the script, becoming obsessed with making it his greatest work. So was it worth the effort or has Tarantino fallen short of greatness?

Telling the story of two undercover plots to inflict damage on the Nazi war effort, the film focuses on a Jewish girl orphaned by the SS and a group of Jewish US soldiers who inflict revenge on German soldiers.

Inglourious Basterds clocks in at the 2 and 1/2 hour mark but never feels overly long and the pace is maintained by switching between the two plots as they run parallel towards an explosive conclusion.

I really liked this film, obviously if you’re squeamish it’ll have you flinching in places but the violence never feels too out of place and while I felt the film was missing some of that trademark Tarantino dialogue, it probably benefitted from a tighter script.

There were a lot of great perfomances in the film, Brad Pitt obviously springs to mind as Aldo Raine and Melanie Laurent as Shosanna Dreyfus was impressive. For me though the plaudits have to go Christoph Waltz for his creepy, reserved performance as Hans Landa. Without his stirling performance the film may have veered towards a more ‘cartoony’ feel.

In places this film really did remind me of those tense war films of the past – stuff like The Great Escape – and I think, while over the top in parts, it lands on the right side of the action genre. It’s also quite refreshing to see a World War II film that isn’t purporting to be based on true events for a change.

Quentin Tarantino has reason to be pleased with the film as well in terms of success – Inglourious Basterds gave him his best ever opening weekend at the box office and has been showered with praise from most reviewers.

For me personally I’m not sure that it’s up there with Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs but it’s certainly the best thing he’s done for a long time.

Rating: 8/10

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The Book Thief – Markus Zusak (Review)

bookthief

The Book Thief is a novel about a young girl, Liesel, who is given up by her mother to a foster family who live near Munich, in 1939.

The girl’s younger brother, who was also to be fostered, dies on the gruelling journey and is buried in the nearest town. While at the funeral Liesel sees one of the gravediggers drop a book from his pocket and she takes it – so starts the life of a book thief.

Liesel can’t read but with the help of her kindly foster father Hans she begins to lose herself in words and finds she gets a lot of enjoyment from reading.

As Nazi Germany heads into war with the Allies things become more and strained across the country and Liesel turns to reading for comfort.

The Book Thief is told not from Liesel’s point of view, as you might expect but is narrated by Death himself.

This lends the book a charming, almost innocent tilt as Death struggles to understand why humans act as they do, all the while telling us the story of this young girl growing up surrounded by ‘Heil Hitler’s’ and the Hitler Youth.

I thought this was a brilliant book and certainly wasn’t something I would’ve normally picked up (see my other book reviews for evidence 🙂 ) but I read the first page and couldn’t put it down.

The Book Thief is a sad but brilliantly told story – capturing both the human suffering of the war and the brutal way we often treat other people.

One of the most moving things about the story is the fact that there were probably thousands of little children like Liesel in Nazi Germany at the time and it’s that sort of scale that really helps put that era into some form of perspective.

I would definitely recommend giving this one a try, it is a beautiful story written in an easy, accessible way. Markus Zusak based it around stories from the war told by his family and you can see from the level of detail he has really brought those stories to life.

It’s not neccessarily the easiest of reads with regard to the subject matter but there are moments of joy within the oppression and I think most people will enjoy Liesel’s story.

Rating: 9/10