Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon review by Al Giovetti
By Al Giovetti
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Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon
Summary * History * Company Line * Game Play * Plot * Graphics * Animation * Voice Actors * Music Score * Sound Effects * Utilities * Multi-player Features * Cheats, Hints, and Walkthrough * Journalists * References * Letters
Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars and Broken Sword: The Smoking Mirror are great games in their own right that preceeded the third installment of the Broken Sword games. It appears that the third game of the trillogy will be the final chapter for the Grand Master who was apparently killed in the first game.
The series has enjoyed exceptional success and is marked by quality Walt Disney style animation and background art. The games have always been well scripted and based in the ever popular mythology or real history surrounding the Knights Templar, a sect of knights established to protect visitors to the holy land during the middle ages.
The production quality of this game rivals that of the best graphic animated adventures. This title is right up there with Cyberia and the Myst series of games. If you like the Sierra, Lucas Arts, Microsoft or Westwood style graphic animated adventures, you are in for a real treat. European and Canadian game companies have been keeping this type of game alive and have updated the games with real three dimensional animation sets and characterization.
I enjoyed playing this game as much as I have enjoyed playing any of the games that I have played
Many have touted this new adventure game as a true epic, and a game that is likely to change the face of adventure gaming as we know it. The series itself has drawn critical acclaim from hard-core and adventure gamers alike for many years. With its revolutionary interface, strong story-line and superb graphics, the game is turning a few heads.
The story revolves around the adventurous duo of George Stobbart and Nico Collard, as they fight sinister forces, an ancient conspiracy, and a fiendish source of pure evil (We all want to fight pure evil.), as foretold in an ancient manuscript newly deciphered: The Voynich Manuscript. Fighting through the steamy jungles of the Congo, eerie castles in Prague, the chic back-streets of Paris and the historic village of Glastonbury, the duo must unravel the secrets of an ultimate evil power and save mankind. (We always have to save the earth, the solar system, the galaxy or sometimes just the country in these games. What is the point otherwise?)
Written very much as an exciting and suspenseful thriller, with the look and feel of a Hollywood action film, players will face new and unique challenges as they explore a whole new world full of exotic locations. Head to www.brokenswordgame.com for the full story.
All in all this is a very well designed game. The game designers do not violate any of the cardinal rules of game design. The game play is almost perfectly controlled so that the experience is gaming not many of the foolish devices game companies use to force the gamer to spend time playing rather than gaming.
The interface has some nice features to it. Most jumping games allow you to jump from one location to another and if you miss your jump you die. Most Jumping games are simply anoying, you jump wrong and you die, requiring you to repeat the same sequence over and over again in a nearly impossible or impassable situation. This game is much more forgiving.
In this game you jump from one location to another using an icon activated by pressing one of for keys on the keyboard (AWSD). Usually the S key on the keyboard is the action key. You only fall if you do not press the buttons quickly enough if there is a timed sequence. In most cases the jumps are executed perfectly when you press the button. I found the process less anoying than most of the jumping games that I have played.
One aspect of the game is the puzzles. The most popular physical puzzle is pulling and pushing blocks of stone, stone flowerpots, or boxes made of wood to make a platform to climb up so that the hero or heroine can get over obsticles in the game. Once you learn the rules of moving the blocks most of the puzzles become obvious and there is a forgiving nature to the puzzles so that you can work out any errors you make.
Other puzzle types include working your way around physical obsticles by jumping up and holding onto drainpipes and ledges to move from one location to another. You also have to move your character close to the wall to move along thin ledges high off the ground without falling.
The other popular type of puzzle is to watch the movement of armed guards and dogs so that the hero or heroine can move from one location to another without being spotted by guards and shot. This was the most difficult of the puzzles in the game since when you were shot you had to start over.
The game observes the most effective and pleasant of solutions when the hero or heroine dies. The game resets to the sequence just before the death of the hero or heroine giving you a chance to try the sequence over without having to manually reload a prior save game or go back to the beginning of a long and anoying sequence that you already completed. The whole process was very pleasant and time efficient making the repetition less than that in most other games.
One of the cardinal rules of gaming is to eliminate repetition when and where ever possible. Repitition of game sequences is a lousy way to try to extend the hours of game play. Most game players are offended or bored by repetitions to the point that they may stop playing a game that requires them to repeat the same sequence over and over again. The Broken Sword series of games does not resort to such devicive and annoying means to add gameplay to their products.
Travel from one location to another in this game was very well controlled. The game player did not have to go back and forth from one location to another to complete the game. Progression from one location to the other was linear. If the game player is observant and picks up items while travelling from one location to another there is no need to backtrack repeatedly in most situations.
Many items picked up are of no use to the game player. There is a piece of coal, string and other things just not needed in the game. These items do not encumber the inventory as they do in some games.
For 350 years an ancient manuscript was undeciphered until now. The ancient manuscript takes or hero and heroine, George Stobbartand Nico Collard on another wonderful adventure. You play both George, an american attorney, and Nico, a french reporter, in alternating chapters
The locatons include the apartment of the translator, an old theatre, and catacombs benieth an old church in Paris France, A ruins in the Congo on the continent of Africa, a ruins in the valley of the dead in Egypt, and a tor in Glastonbury, England.
All good games, as all good stories, have humor, wit, some puzzles, and a lot of exploration. The game provides suspense in many of its aspects where the avatar (the game player) of the hero and heroine must push buttons very quickly in order to survive.
These graphics are some of the most beautiful graphics that I have ever seen in a computer game. Graphics are not a matter of the number of polygons. Everquest has taught us that you can do wonders with just a few polygons. Art is art. If the computer artist has the skill and talent, some of the most beautiful things can be done.
Animation of characters and backgrounds is first rate. The animation rivals that used in the best animated movies. The game has high quality animated characters with full development of expressions and personality.
The voice actors are first rate. Professionally done with the best acting talent. Voice Actors include Rolf Saxon, Sarah Crook, Alison Petit, Andrew Secombe, Bob Golding, Jay Benedict, John Bull, Laurence Bouvard, Peter Marinker, Rachael Rogers, Rachel Preece, Simon Treves, and Seamus O'Neil.
Music compliments the game play. The music is well written and fits with the game.
Sound effects are high quality.
The controls in the game are a bit awkward to learn. It took me forever to figure out how to access the inventory. Only after I figured out the space bar activated the inventory did I see the "Space" on page 7 of the little manual which said "display inventory / hide inventory."
This is a single player game. The game is best played by one person running the computer and a group of friends gathered around enjoying the story as it unfolds.
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