Wednesday, April 01, 2009

war, off the battlefields

I've always wanted to play a game about war away from the battlefield.

If you watch a lot of movies and documentaries, you start to associate war only with soldiers and epic battles. But what's war like for civilians? What's it like for the small groups of soldiers in between and separated from major battles? There's a little of this in films like The Longest Day and The Scarlet and The Black.

Well, it looks like Pandemic's open world game The Saboteur might offer me a taste of that experience. From this Unscripted 360 interview with Lead Designer Tom French (I can't believe nobody has mentioned the irony of that name): "you can drive straight out of the city limits [of Paris], into a sweeping French countryside, on to neighboring French chateaus to other towns and even across the border into Germany".

This isn't a game about a soldier charging into enemy emplacements with helmet and orders. This is a game about an Irish racecar mechanic with a grudge against Nazis, ala Indiana Jones, stuck in occupied France. And it's even inspired by a true story.

I'll be most interested to see how the "Will to Fight" feature works and how the lives of the oppressed Parisians is portrayed. In any case, wandering around a war-torn country without being a formal part of that war should be fresh and exciting. I'll see if I can interview someone form Pandemic sometime to learn more about The Saboteur.

Another upcoming game, Velvet Assassin, developed by Replay, has a surprisingly similar setting. Also inspired by a true story (Violette Szabo), it's about a civilian in Nazi-occupied France killing Nazis. It seems to be a more linear game focusing on stealth kills and a dark, gritty atmosphere. IGN has some info on it here.

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