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The late 2000s were an evolutionary period for open world games. While the Grand Theft Auto series continued to refine the metropolitan sandbox, more and more titles were showing that the genre could work well beyond the confines of modern-day urbanity. Games like Crackdown and Infamous offered super-powered skirmishes set within near-future dystopias, while the likes of Assassin’s Creed showed that there was plenty of fun to be had parkouring through cityscapes of the ancient past. The size of their worlds rarely exceeded those of Rockstar’s opuses – but the variety of mechanics and subject matter they explored proved that this didn’t always matter.
Among these experiences was The Saboteur, created by the Los Angeles-based Pandemic Studios. An open world game set in Nazi-occupied Paris, The Saboteur set itself apart from its competition with its swashbuckling tone and transformative color palette, which became increasingly vibrant the more its protagonist liberated the French capital’s streets. While not everything about it worked to perfection, few argued against its uniqueness; in an era where most games set during World War II focused on hardened soldiers cast into the conflict’s deepest trenches, and most open world games ignored the former half of the 20th century, there was simply nothing else quite like Pandemic’s work.
Yet more unique than the game itself were the circumstances in which it was developed and released. For The Saboteur served as Pandemic’s sole lifeline during one of its most difficult periods – and its swansong once these difficulties forced the studio to close its doors.
This is the history of The Saboteur.
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