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December 8, 2009

'Saboteur' brings black & white to color

Posted: 12:21 PM ET

Musical cues are often used to highlight or signify moods in games and films. Now a new video game is using color – or the lack of it – to symbolize oppression and freedom in the 1940s.

“The Saboteur” (Pandemic Studios, Electronic Arts), which hits stores today, is an action-adventure game based in Paris during the German occupation of World War II. You play Sean Devlin, a character inspired by the true story of William Grover-Williams, an English racer who joined the British special ops unit.

You’ll use a broad range of weapons, explosives and vehicles to throw the Nazis out of Paris. But it's the visual aspects of "The Saboteur" that are most interesting.

Lead designer Tom French's team made Paris black and white at the beginning of the game; color gradually bleeds in as players progress and sections of the city are liberated from Nazi control. French says it was a middle-of-the-night idea.

“We wanted to make the City of Light feel occupied [by the Nazis],” he says. “We wanted to suck the life out of it.”

French says the challenge was making black and white still look like it has depth and feel to it. Turning colors off makes everything flat, so French's team drew inspiration from the movie “Sin City” to make it look cool, he says.

If you think once you’ve ‘colored’ an area you are safe, guess again. French said Paris never gets completely colorized, and some parts turn to black and white again as the Nazi retake certain areas of the map.

“Once you take out a sniper, you never have to worry about him again,” he says. “But there is a point where the Germans take back a headquarters, turning it to black and white again.”

The design team traveled to Paris to get a firsthand look at the city and the buildings. French says they came away with a lot of information.

“I spent three hours in a cemetery imagining firefights,” he says. “We visited Resistance museums, taking pictures secretly and scribbling notes.”

They came away with more than 2,500 photos, but French believes it was worth it. “We wanted to give [Paris] an organic feeling.”

As with most games with wide-open spaces to roam, repetition of buildings can be a problem. The team used what French calls “Legos” to create buildings where they could mix and match different elements without having to create new buildings from scratch every time.

“Climb all the buildings,” French advises. “Use every square inch to make sure you experience the depth of the game.”

“The Saboteur” is available for the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. It is rated M (Mature – blood, intense violence, nudity, sexual themes, strong language).

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Filed under: Games • Gaming • video games

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Keith   December 8th, 2009 10:33 pm ET

It's worth noting Pandemic was shut down earlyer this month due to new over regulation passed in California on tech companies. TELL THE POLITICAINS, YOUR ENVIROMENTAL HIPPY CRAP CAN WAIT.
The more you regulate companies the more they will move jobs out of this nation. I too i'm a victum of this states anti-bussines anti- job agenda, i wonder how may others have lost work due to this bs.

Sean   December 11th, 2009 9:57 am ET

move the company out of CA. Pennsylvania will take any tech company that doesn't want too much regulation, as long as they are willing to pay a fair salary and not try to dodge taxes.

fyi: the environmental regulations in CA aren't strict enough for heavy industry and too strict for light. you might want to tell your reps. about that.

daniel   December 11th, 2009 10:22 am ET

E.A has released another game that will not work on pc due to crashes it has been a week since the game has been released still no fix all you get is the same answer over and over .I do not think its right for a company to continue to sell a product knowing it does not work very sad is there any laws against this?

Scott   December 21st, 2009 10:56 am ET

Bah, this crap. It seems like the farther and farther we go into things the deeper and deeper we get into a pile of BS. We try to make jobs, goverment doesn't allow them (<– to most extents.) then the goverment makes a job, but no one wants to work for them due to low wages and long hours. whats the point? we need a new president, new poloticians, we need a new goverment.

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