It seems 2003 has seen quite a few adventure games released onto the unsuspecting world, most of which weren't worth the discs they were copied on to (market rate approximately 25 cents). There were a couple available on the PC that were worth playing though, like Post Mortem
and Dark Fall: The Journal
. Cyan Worlds also recently released Uru: Ages Beyond Myst
, which is always a truly great adventure. However, there were a lot more sub-par adventures that good ones released this year.
In comes Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon, released on The Adventure Company's label and developed by Revolution Software, who has released two other Broken Sword adventures prior to this one. The Sleeping Dragon is the third in this series, but newcomers won't have to worry about not having played the previous incarnations. This is definitely a stand-alone adventure.
It all starts in the Congo, as George Stobbart, a patent lawyer from Idaho, flies out to meet a client. He arrives just in time to see his would-be client shot. Miles away, in Paris, reporter Nicole Collard is working a case - and her timing is just as impeccable. As she arrives to meet someone who has a story he wants to tell her about the end of the world, she hears gunshots and breaks into the apartment to find her informant dead. This is the beginning of a story which eventually leads long time friends George and Nico to reunite and save the world - something they've done together before.
All of the characters in the story have interesting tales to tell. Perhaps the most interesting comes in the form of Bruno, an ex-Templar (yes, as in the holy group of knights who became extremely powerful and were eventually wiped out by the inquisition when they angered the king). Of course, for the sake of this tale, the Templars were never extinguished, they only went underground. Back to Bruno - he comes into the story and helps George find the truth about the murder of the scientist he was to meet. He is a compelling character and the choices he makes in the game may actually bring a tear to your eye. It is rare that a game can do that.
The puzzles are a mixed bag. There are a lot of original puzzles here and none of them are overly complex. They also fit well with the story and actually make sense. However, the crate puzzles are over the top. By the end of the game, I was actually saying "Not again!" when I found yet another crate puzzle. If you don't know what a crate puzzle is, it is a puzzle that requires you to push and pull boxes into place so you can reach a high spot or travel across a gap. A few of these well placed into the story are great. Too many are just annoying, and that is what this game has of those, too many. However, the rest of the puzzles seem to redeem this aspect of the game, with some that make you think and others that you just must be persistent in to defeat.
The control can be a little treacherous at times as you're never quite sure what parts of the environment are "there" and solid and which are parts are merely pretty drawings. Broken Sword can feel a little bit like an older version of Resident Evil at times because of this, but the pace of the game allows you to take your time and make sure you're not walking off of a cliff; the wrong cliff, that is. As long as you're aware and comfortable with the fact that you're playing and adventure game and not a run-and-gun or hack-and-slash action title you should be A-O-K with this latest Broken Sword.
All actions are selected by pushing one of four buttons assigned to a bubble menu (imagine what the four main buttons on the Xbox controller look like and you're getting the picture). It's simple and direct and leaves your mind free to deal with all of those puzzles that will be thrown at you.
The graphics are really well done. They are bright, cheery and cartoonish. Cut scenes are well placed and add a great deal to the story. The animation is also a bright spot. Incredible voice acting dominates this game, though, outshining the graphics and story by far. From Nico's French accent to George's believable "Yankee Lawyer" silliness, it is a pleasure to listen to the game. Sound effects are appropriately done as well.
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