IGN Review of Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars
Publishers sure do love recycling old games on the Wii. From Resident Evil 4 to Klonoa to Rygar, the trend has been to polish up existing games rather than sink development dollars into new titles. Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars -- The Director's Cut is the latest Wiimake, and at 13 years old it is a pretty old game. It holds up pretty well, though, offering solid point-and-click gameplay and some impressive animation. The series has a cult following (especially in Europe), and cult followings aren't built easily. If you're a fan of the genre, Broken Sword warrants a look.
Players alternately control two characters: French photojournalist Nico Collard and American tourist George Stobbart. Working together, they must solve a mystery involving killer clowns, ancient relics, and lots of pointing and clicking. The script is well written, if not particularly exciting. All of the dialogue is delivered with voice acting, most of which is performed admirably. The recording quality isn't consistent, though, so sometimes one of a character's lines will all of a sudden sound like it was recorded in a garage instead of a professional recording studio.
Solving puzzles and progressing through the story is usually little more than using object A on object B. But it's a time-tested formula that has worked for years with games like The Secret of Monkey Island and Grim Fandango. Broken Sword unfolds at a snail's pace, but that isn't likely to bother fans of the genre. What they want to know is whether or not the story is interesting, and it is. But they'll spend lots and lots of time just listening to people chat with various European accents, and the formula won't appeal to everyone. There are several puzzle mini-games that pop up like putting a torn photo back together and decrypting coded messages. These events break up the pacing and add some variety to the gameplay.
Like most games in the genre, the puzzles here can be a bit esoteric and the solutions don't always make sense. A little trial and error will get you through just about any predicament, though. There is also a friendly help system built into the game which will dole out tips the longer you are stuck in a situation.
Where Broken Sword really stands out is its animation system. The hand drawn art makes it feel like you're playing a cartoon and the character movement is quite fluid.
If you missed Broken Sword 13 years ago and are a point-and-click fan you should definitely check this out on Wii. But even if you already played the game this edition warrants a second look as there are a few new additions. The Wii pointer control works admirably well, as it did in Strong Bad's Cool Game. Developer Revolution avoided sticking in any unnecessary waggle controls, although a few puzzles use the remote to twist a lock or rotate a piece of paper. The controller will rumble slightly when moved over an object you can interact with. All in all it's a nice user-interface -- except for the ugly menus that look like they were pulled straight from the 13-year old original game. They have 1996 written all over them. You also can't back out of menus with a tap of the B button -- you have to point at and click the "back" icon. It's not a huge deal, but it slightly encumbers the interface.
This being the Director's Cut of Broken Sword, there are new chapters to play through as Nico that are interspersed into the original story. So fans of the game will find new content here. A "cooperative" mode has been added, but it's a cheap gimmick that only serves as a feature bullet point on the game box. A second player can use a remote to point at the screen and highlight objects that can be interacted with -- that is all.
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