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Developer Diary: The Saboteur for PS3

Tom French's Avatar Posted by Tom French on Oct 02, 2009 // Lead Designer, The Saboteur

Greetings PlayStation.Blog! I’m Tom French, Lead Designer of The Saboteur. Since this is my first post on the blog, I figured it might be best to give you an introduction to The Saboteur for those of you that know little to nothing about our game. Simply put, the game is a big-story-driven-open-world-action-sandbox-game that pits a daredevil race-car-driver-turned-saboteur vs. Nazi occupied France. “WWII, really, do I need another WWII game?” We said the same thing to ourselves when the idea was first pitched to the team.

Let me tell you now, straight up, The Saboteur is not your typical WWII game.


In The Saboteur rather than playing what might as well be a nameless-faceless soldier in the war you play as Sean Devlin; a rough around the edges Irish race-car-driver who becomes a saboteur. While I know this idea might sound a bit unbelievable at first; let me tell you now that Sean is actually inspired by a real life person – William Grover-Williams. He was British/French grand prix champion who drove for the legendary Bugatti racing team back in the 30’s. Because of his daredevil nature and his ability to blend into the French culture he made prime candidate to be recruited by the Special Operations Executive (SOE). He then became a saboteur working with the Resistance there. This idea of a larger-than-life hero that wasn’t fighting on the front lines really just felt like a great idea for a game character and we really wanted to make a game with less “history” and more “his story”. More Indiana Jones and less Saving Private Ryan.

The Saboteur Outside_The_Belle_de_Nuit The Saboteur_02

We wanted to make our hero the action hero we all wish we could be in our hearts. Being a team of film geeks we looked to the heroes from the silver screen for inspiration; Indiana Jones for his big adventures and his desire to trade fists with Nazis for his personal rather than political reasons, John McClane from Die Hard who takes a beating and laughs in the face of danger, and finally Steve McQueen who was, well, one of the most classically cool men to ever walk the face of this planet. These are the types of heroes we want to be. To further ourselves from the typical WWII story we set out to make Sean’s story personally motivated rather than political. That’s why one of our first decisions with the character was to make him Irish. Sean doesn’t care about politics but when Kurt Dierker, a rival racecar driver and high-ranked Nazi official kills his best friend Jules, things get personal for Sean and he will have to fight all across Paris, the French countryside, and even into Germany to get revenge on those who wronged him.

TRAIN_Watermarked copy

We felt strongly that it was extremely important to let the player to step into the shoes of Sean Devlin and become The Saboteur right along side of him. You’ll get to play the origin story of The Saboteur, race in vintage race cars across the streets of Paris, scale the Eiffel tower, shoot your way through hordes of Nazis, sabotage their operations with explosives, chase through burning zeppelins, derail trains and that’s just a few examples of the big action moments The Saboteur will have for you. What are the cool features in the game? What can and does he do along the way? Why are some of the screenshots in black and white? I’ll be bringing those answers to you in up coming blogs so stay tuned, I’ve still got a lot to cover.

//Add Your Own

29 Comments   37 Replies

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+ Erniejpan on October 2nd, 2009 at 3:20 pm said:

I haven’t hear anything of this game. And was suprise of the 2009 release. Why don’t you guys advertise it more?

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    + Tom French on October 2nd, 2009 at 3:30 pm said:

    The main marketing should start hitting pretty soon. Up until now we\’ve been mainly covered on a lot of the gaming sites, etc. Keep your eyes out though…

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+ Tom French on October 2nd, 2009 at 3:34 pm said:

I wanted to thank everyone for their comments (even the negative ones). It’s crazy busy times around here on The Saboteur team but I’ll make sure I pop on and answer questions. Like I said, there will be more info being revealed in the coming blogs.

_T(French) – Lead Designer, The Saboteur


+ xiked on October 2nd, 2009 at 3:42 pm said:

I’m starting to get more into this game. Looks very promising!
But how is the AU, it looks like the can see you throw the walls in the game play movies. Thta sis when you get spotted of course, is this only my imagine or is the game designed like that. Because it would be more fun if the had a “real” sight and have to look after you.

btw. from Sweden so sorry for my grammar.

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    + Tom French on October 2nd, 2009 at 3:57 pm said:

    Hmmm, I\’m not sure what you mean by AU, but they do have to have direct line of sight to see you. It\’s possible what you\’ve seen in the videos is an enemy spotting Sean from a tower or something like that.

    No worries about your grammar I\’m fairly used to it, we have like a half-dozen Swedes on our programming team. :)


+ wolfzero1 on October 2nd, 2009 at 3:52 pm said:

ever since I first heard about this game I’ve been really looking forward to it, it nice to see a game based on WWII events that is not going to be another garden variety shooter


+ Blkant on October 2nd, 2009 at 2:58 pm said:

@ reply to #1

Interesting, so like a odd mix of GTA (open world), meets Uncharted (mechanics similarities), meets WWII…

Very interesting, hmm… I would need a demo or a rent to see if it really flows together well and doesn’t try too hard, but its on my watch list now.


+ sazzrah on October 2nd, 2009 at 3:00 pm said:

I quite like the idea of a story driven WW2 game rather than ‘nameless soldier killing Nazis = win’ type game. I am quite fascinated by the era and so telling a unique story from a somewhat outside perspective (with Sean being Irish and all) sounds very appealing. After checking out the wiki page for William Grover-Williams you have me wondering if your fictional counterpart will meet a similar end! Poor guy.

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    + Tom French on October 2nd, 2009 at 3:28 pm said:

    Yeah, Grover-Williams was really interesting. There\’s a really great article out there that goes into a lot more detail than the one on the wiki.


+ superstewie on October 3rd, 2009 at 3:57 pm said:

will it come with a complimentary spa vacation?
seeing as you answer, i could always ask :P


+ zaltar on October 3rd, 2009 at 6:54 pm said:

This looks like an excellent game! I love the black and white coloring, it really completes the WW2 era feeling.

Anyways, I really can’t wait to see this game finished.

Good luck with the rest of the production! ;)



+ trustkill on October 7th, 2009 at 10:29 pm said:

I’m really hoping this game makes a decent splash in the gaming scene. I love how you guys are taking some chances making the game b&w with color splashed in. add an angry irishman and nazi… how can you go wrong?

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    + Tom French on October 22nd, 2009 at 4:33 pm said:

    I like to think you can\’t!


+ QuarantinedHog on October 18th, 2009 at 8:29 pm said:

This looks like a really good game from what ive seen floating around the interwebz but im curious can the main character die or does he just taking rockets till you beat the game?

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    + Tom French on October 22nd, 2009 at 4:33 pm said:

    Hahaha, no, Sean can die. Sometimes the footage you see is in god mode do an accidental error (IE, getting hit in the face with a rocket) won\’t kill Sean and make us have to redo the whole demo. :)


+ QuarantinedHog on October 18th, 2009 at 8:34 pm said:

appologies for stupidity in previous post is there going to be some sort of demo if possible ?

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    + Tom French on October 22nd, 2009 at 4:35 pm said:

    No worries about your previous question! It\’s perfectly valid especially if you saw the one I\’m thinking about where the guy demoing was blasted by a rocket and flew off the roof into the streets. Woops!

    There haven\’t been any announcements about a demo.


+ fournier on October 19th, 2009 at 2:28 am said:

wow this game looks amazing! I have watched the stage demo and trailers. My wife is getting it for me for Christmas, and i was wondering if any themes for the ps3 or psp will be made for it and avatars for the psn. the game actually caught my eye because your character dresses and looks a bit like me lol. then watching the rest sold me on it. cant wait for Christmas!!

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+ Tom French on October 22nd, 2009 at 4:36 pm said:

Hey, thanks for all the questions. Sorry the last few took a bit to get to, it’s been busy times around here at camp Saboteur.

Check in Friday (10/23) tomorrow for the next blog…


+ nikeforces on October 2nd, 2009 at 5:20 pm said:

It looks like a cool game. I dont care if its a big Uncharted ripoff(referring to other people’s post). Good game = good fun. but i will need to see some more vids and stuff i just have researched cause i’ve been reading everything on Demon’s Souls, Uncharted 2, and Borderlands


+ mattroks101 on October 2nd, 2009 at 6:14 pm said:

Mr. French i’m really looking forward to tis game and have for a while i really like thea rt desighn and i hope the gameplay matches to the pics, one thing i do want to say is that when the guy sprints it kinda looks like a blocky animation, kinda cartoony, but i’m still picking up this game regardless because it looks so cool


+ mattroks101 on October 2nd, 2009 at 6:15 pm said:

sorry about all the misspellings but it’s late and i’m really tired


+ Dark_Vincent on October 2nd, 2009 at 6:23 pm said:

Tom French good job replying to all the users’ comments and questions about your game. I was interested on The Saboteur as soon as I heard the concept, I’m all for sandbox games that explore exotic settings such as inFAMOUS and your game. I would love to hear and see more :) Post again on the PSBlog whenever you have the chance!!

Btw, being compared to Uncharted can be seen as a form of flattery. The guys at Naughty Dog made an incredible franchise after all and I’m sure you agree with me on this one :)

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    + Tom French on October 3rd, 2009 at 1:12 pm said:

    Yeah, I couldn\’t agree more about being compared to Uncharted. Like I said before, I\’m a big fan of Drake and can\’t wait to get my hands on the sequel.


+ prinny007 on October 3rd, 2009 at 1:20 am said:

I’m getting this.


+ mattroks101 on October 3rd, 2009 at 7:41 am said:

sorry for so many post but i’ve got alot of questions, in the cinimatic trailer it showed hand to hand combat, will it have anyform of hand to hand combat?

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    + Tom French on October 3rd, 2009 at 1:14 pm said:

    No worries, feel free to keep asking away.

    Yeah, there\’s a melee fighting system in the game the player can use whenever they want. It\’s pretty brawler like fitting with Sean\’s personality. It\’s a combination of jabs, big punches, kicks, head butts, elbows, grabs, throws, etc.


+ hush404 on October 3rd, 2009 at 1:50 pm said:

The game looks promising. I’ve been following it for a lil bit and really like what I see… but more importantly …

your beard rawks :D

Keep it up, will continue anticipating the game.


+ shadowkiller11 on October 3rd, 2009 at 2:19 pm said:

Ah yes more coverage for the game, i was wondering i loved mercenaries 2 but is The Saboteur going to have a similar mission design? as i felt that was the only real major negative to mercenaries 2. One more thing will the soundtrack from the trailers be in the retail game? thanks i most likely buy this at worst a christmas present.

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    + Tom French on October 3rd, 2009 at 2:30 pm said:

    I think there will be some announcement on this at some point soon. I can say some of it for sure is in the game but I can\’t promise all of it.

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    + Tom French on October 3rd, 2009 at 2:26 pm said:

    I\’m planning on covering this in a blog I\’ll be doing in the near future. For now the best way to describe it is the missions in The Saboteur don\’t feel like your traditional sandbox game missions. They feel more like missions you would play in a more level based game.

    More on this soon though…


+ Blkant on October 2nd, 2009 at 8:06 am said:

Screens make the gameplay look like a huge rip off of Uncharted 2. Even the train pics there kind of scream it. Gameplay wise I mean.

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    + Tom French on October 2nd, 2009 at 2:18 pm said:

    I remember reading about the Uncharted 1 for the first time in the same issue of Game Informer we announced The Saboteur in a few years back. I\’d be lying if I said there aren\’t any similarities to Uncharted and we could see it then. Both games have a very Indiana Jones inspired lead character, big over the top set piece type moments, some similar mechanics, etc.

    The main difference is our game is an open world game with lots of different tools for the player to play how they want to play (more on some of this stuff in later blogs).

    That being said I was a huge fan of Drake 1 and really look forward to getting some time to sit down and play 2 soon. :)


+ adolson on October 2nd, 2009 at 8:09 am said:

Will there be a demo?

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    + Tom French on October 2nd, 2009 at 2:19 pm said:

    We haven\’t made any announcements about a demo.


+ Jeigh on October 2nd, 2009 at 8:18 am said:

Ah, I love the Irish accent. I actually saw a special on this awhile back (don’t be afraid to pop in more often- we don’t bite… err, well some of us don’t XD).

I especially like the artistic way this game is being depicted- the black and white versus color juxtaposition gives it a deeper artistic motif than some games care to give. Honestly, it’s as if the idea of gaming being an art-form is so incredibly strange that it would unthinkable to have such elements taken closer to the forefront. I don’t think you guys are going quite so far as to have everything in the game have some symbolic meaning, but it brings the argument closer to my doorstep.

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    + Tom French on October 2nd, 2009 at 2:27 pm said:

    I appreciate reading your kind words. We\’re really proud of the artistic elements of the game. I definitely think games can be art and people are fools for saying they can\’t. Makes me want to lock them in a room with a copy of Bioshock, Okami, Ico/Shadow of the Colossus, and see if they could come out with the same opinion.

    While at times\’s it\’s just for dramatic reason or to make something pop out in the black and white, we do use the color/black & white sometimes to really give symbolic meaning to things. Main characters often have a piece in color to make them stick out in the world and the color we use for them is blue, the color of the resistance.

    There\’s also this great shot of the world when you first load up the game that\’s in front of our cabaret/brothel called the Belle du Nuit. The whole world is in black white but the front of the building is in color. The reason it\’s in color is it\’s a bit like Rick\’s place from Casablanca. The area might being opressed by the occupying forces but inside the Belle is this sense of inspiration with the resistance growing inside.

    Using color inside the black and white was a really neat tool to work with inside the game and we found some great uses for.


+ DZORMAGEN on October 2nd, 2009 at 8:25 am said:

Is this a PSN title, or a title you buy in retail stores?

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    + Tom French on October 2nd, 2009 at 2:32 pm said:

    Woops, sorry for all the extra responses. They weren\’t showing up when I clicked submit. :)

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    + Tom French on October 2nd, 2009 at 2:29 pm said:


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    + Tom French on October 2nd, 2009 at 2:30 pm said:

    It\’ll be a retail game.

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    + Tom French on October 2nd, 2009 at 2:31 pm said:

    The Saboteur will be a full retail game.


+ KazeEternal on October 2nd, 2009 at 8:30 am said:

completely…. forgot about this game.


+ RaiderHutch on October 2nd, 2009 at 8:37 am said:

This game looks very interesting. I especially enjoy the idea of approaching WWII genre in a totally different way.

I’ll definitely keep my eye on this one since I can’t get enough of the resurgence of action/adventure games.


+ CEK111 on October 2nd, 2009 at 8:41 am said:

Finally a Irish guy in a PS3 Game, but im not sure you’ve chose the time zone well.
Remember, Ireland, is going through some tuff times with them Brits, the troubles, and all, and around the 1900-1920’s, dont ever get me started.

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    + Tom French on October 2nd, 2009 at 2:36 pm said:

    The whole Irish-vs.-Brits thing is something we definitely play up a bit in the game. Sean sometimes has to reluctantly work with the British SOE to get to Dierker.

    Sean at the beginning of the game really only cares about racing, drinking, and his friends. Making him Irish was key to separating him from the political motivations of the war so we could keep his story personal.


+ WackyWeedCreed on October 2nd, 2009 at 8:43 am said:

Love the Schindler’s List reference coloring ;)
Very cool stuff.

I can’t wait to try this!
Are you guys planing on releasing a demo?


+ jimfear on October 2nd, 2009 at 8:45 am said:

You have the greatest beard of all the gaming industry.

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    + Tom French on October 2nd, 2009 at 2:36 pm said:

    Hahaha, thanks. :)


+ moog on October 2nd, 2009 at 8:46 am said:

Sounds more like a GTA to me. If it has mission checkpoints and save anywhere, i.e. not like GTA’s insane system, I’m in!

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    + Tom French on October 2nd, 2009 at 2:41 pm said:

    We definitely have mission check points because we have some really epic long missions and forcing the player to have to go back to a mission starter and play the whole mission again would likely make people throw their controllers through their TVs. :)

    We also wanted to let the player experiment with the different mechanics and risk death without the risk of having to do it all over again.


+ WackyWeedCreed on October 2nd, 2009 at 8:47 am said:

Love the Schindler’s List coloring reference ;)
Very Cool Stuff.

I can’t wait to play this!
Are you guys planing on releasing a demo?

@1 No need to be mopey, have some respect. lol


+ Phuquit on October 2nd, 2009 at 8:50 am said:

jesus christ. This looks incredible


+ PerezBros on October 2nd, 2009 at 8:57 am said:

Will this game have any multiplayer? Custom soundtracks… etc?

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    + Tom French on October 2nd, 2009 at 2:45 pm said:

    We talked about multi-player when we first started designing the game but ultimately felt it would spread us too thin from accomplishing our main goal of delivering an epic story driven action sandbox game.


+ Coramoor_ on October 2nd, 2009 at 9:01 am said:

this game actually looks really good, keep us up to date on the blog, and i’ll definitely consider giving it a more serious look come release date


+ Scodo_Thope on October 2nd, 2009 at 9:04 am said:

What IS an Irishman doing in Paris?

AWESOME vid on the EA site.

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    + Tom French on October 2nd, 2009 at 2:51 pm said:

    I was happy we finally cut a trailer with Flogging Molly as a soundtrack. I always felt like their music captured the fighting spirit of Sean.


+ BlooodyCow on October 2nd, 2009 at 9:06 am said:

I LOVE the artstyle for this game. I love games that have a unique artstyle. this factor alone is a selling point for me, but too bad I hate WWII games. Maybe when this game drop in price, I will pick it up.

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    + Tom French on October 2nd, 2009 at 2:55 pm said:

    You may be presently surprised when you play the game that it really doesn\’t feel like your traditional WWII game. WWII gave us probably the best real world bad guys of all time, occupied France, and an era where high-spirit-pulp action feels like it makes sense. :) We also take a lot of liberties with the war. Like I said, more Indiana Jones than Saving Private Ryan. Big adventure. Armored Nazi soldiers. Zeppelins that chase you around with search lights and mini-guns.


+ Ftwrthtx on October 2nd, 2009 at 9:15 am said:

Thank you for the in depth explanation of the game. You just sold me on it.


+ jncasanova on October 2nd, 2009 at 9:22 am said:



+ DKShadow on October 2nd, 2009 at 9:23 am said:

I’ve seen this game demoed a couple times over the last couple months and lemme tell you guys, this looks great. The grey/color effect is pretty awesome and the fact that you can crawl around Assassin’s Creed-style is sweet.

Looking forward to this one for sure.


+ UNCyrus on October 2nd, 2009 at 9:28 am said:

Give me a demo, and I’m more likely to give you my money!

But in all seriousness, thanks for continuing to tease this game, you keep spiking my interest with every new tidbit of info. I’d love to see how the game actually plays though before I invest $60 into it


+ Dallas7999 on October 2nd, 2009 at 9:30 am said:

I remember first hearing about this game in that GI story a couple of years back, however as time passed, I must admit I’d completely forgotten about it. It looks good, though, and consider my interest regained.

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    + Tom French on October 2nd, 2009 at 2:58 pm said:

    Yeah, we kinda went into the dark for a while to really just focus on working on the game. It\’s come a long ways since the GI article days.


+ StrykerIsland on October 2nd, 2009 at 9:37 am said:

Really looking forward to this one.


+ kdiep on October 2nd, 2009 at 9:42 am said:

This game looks great. Definitately looking forward to it but I really haven’t seen it enough though. I just saw one walkthrough were you blew up some generator or something. It felt cool but I after Assassin’s Creed I’m very worried about the possible repetitiveness. I really do wish that there’s interesting stuff you can do in the city as well though.

With all these open-world games coming out, I find myself not playing in the “sandbox” after I finished the storyline. inFamous, Assassin’s Creed and GTAIV being my main examples. So I really hope there’ll be something worthy to do in the city (ex San Andreas’ gangs etc).

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    + Tom French on October 2nd, 2009 at 3:11 pm said:

    I definitely share your concern about repletion in sandbox games. We didn\’t want the missions in The Saboteur to all be cookie cutter. We put a lot of attention into making sure all the missions of the game are different from each other. On top of that we do have a lot of pure sandbox type game play with our our occupation in the world.

    I\’ll be going into this stuff in a later blog so hang in there. :)


+ Flame060 on October 2nd, 2009 at 9:47 am said:

Can’t wait to see how development goes. Keep us all posted!


+ TwinDad on October 2nd, 2009 at 9:49 am said:

Wonderful Developer Diary. I had a chance to play at PAX in the EA booth. It was a great game what I played. I look forward to this game.

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    + Tom French on October 2nd, 2009 at 3:13 pm said:

    I have to say I had a blast just watching people play the game at PAX. There was a point a couple years ago when the game could only look good in the hands of a few select members of the dev team and to finally get to watch consumers play the game and have it look cool is really inspiring to me.


+ Neil on October 2nd, 2009 at 9:54 am said:

Sounds good. I have a question; do you have any beard trimming tips?

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    + Tom French on October 2nd, 2009 at 3:14 pm said:

    Hahaha; go with what suits you! \\m/


+ enormhi on October 2nd, 2009 at 9:54 am said:

Is it a race game or a shooter? I’ts not really clear to me. I hope its a shooter.

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    + Tom French on October 2nd, 2009 at 3:17 pm said:

    At it\’s heart it\’s an open world action game. There is racing, shooting, jumping, climbing, sabotage, fist fights, disguises, and much more. I could almost predict a blog about the mechanics of The Saboteur coming in the near future. ;)


+ IceCold on October 2nd, 2009 at 10:01 am said:

@1 if the games does use the uncharted engine then that is not a bad thing. The game seems like it has potential, I’ll be paying attention to the upcoming blogs and hope for some gameplay videos.

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    + Tom French on October 2nd, 2009 at 3:53 pm said:

    We\’re not using the Uncharted engine. They\’re a completely separate company. Our game is also an open world game so the tech needs are very different. The technology for The Saboteur is all new tech we developed specifically for the game. When we started working on the game we originally were sharing code with our Mercenaries 2 team but quickly realized we were making very different games and had to build our own technology. We focused our engine on being able to have a lot of detail, objects, textures, etc in our scenes but allow for the player to climb to the top of anything and look out across the huge expanse (you can get to the top of the Eiffel Tower in our game).

    If you\’re curious about gameplay videos, just search the internet, check our website or Facebook, there\’s a good chunk of footage out there.

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    + Tom French on October 2nd, 2009 at 4:48 pm said:


+ Mox007 on October 2nd, 2009 at 10:06 am said:

I have been looking forward to this game since it was first announced, which seems like eons ago. I remember reading about Sabateur, a GI cover story, a couple of years back. I have been following it ever since.

This is my most anticipated game for this year, can’t wait!

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