Broken Sword is a series of point and click adventures developed by UK-based Revolution Software, the master designers behind such classics as Beneath a Steel Sky and Lure of the Temptress. The series currently contains only two games at the time of writing, with a third in development. However each game has been regarded as a masterpiece in storytelling and puzzle-craft amongst the gaming public, especially in the UK. Each game has a story that is researched to the fullest, ironing out memorable characters and keeping historical data accurate. History is a major part of the Broken Sword series, as each game looks into a different aspect of a forgotten era. The massive amount of detail in each game is simply astonishing, the cartoon style graphics standing out even to this day.
WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD
The games released are as follows:
Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars/Circle of Blood (Playstation/PC/Game Boy Advance)
Called Circle of Blood in the US, the first game casts you as George Stobbart, a wisecracking, witty American on a personal tour of Europe. One day while sitting outside a cafe in Paris, a clown walks into the cafe, comes out and runs down an alley, shortly before the cafe blows up. What follows is a story of betrayal, love, action and revenge. In this game, George meets French freelance journalist Nico Collard, who helps him out with the mysterious bombing.
The first thing to strike you about this game is the superb cinematic atmosphere infused into it. It starts with a landscape shot of Paris, followed by said explosion, and you are then controlling George on the street with virtually identical graphics. The background images are so detailed it's quite jaw dropping. As you walk down a side street, you see cars and trucks flying past on an adjacent road. While walking down a Moroccan market, you can see tourists taking pictures, people haggling with shopkeepers and stray cats roaming in the darkness. And this isn't even the tip of the iceberg.
For one thing, the voice acting is top-notch. With more and more games being released with shoddy and downright awful acting, it's nice to be-able to play a game that isn't jaw clenching in any sense. Likewise, the script is great as well. Lot's of humour has been introduced into this game, especially at the Irish pub. Probably the only thing I can think of that is bad about this part of the game is that Nico's French accent is a bit too strong, and can sometimes be a bit annoying.
The puzzles themselves, as well as the overall mystery of the plot, are very well though out. Almost every puzzle isn't too easy to figure out, but isn't too obscure to frustrate for too long (are you taking notes Discworld?). All of them are not hard to figure out, and shouldn't be too much trouble. There are a few exceptions for example at one point when you are being held at gunpoint, you don't usually realise you have to use the hand buzzer on him you got RIGHT AT THE BEGINNING OF THE GAME on him. In fact, the action sequences are quite frustrating. They require very quick reflexes, and if you don't know what your're supposed to do, you've got a problem.
However, these are small prices to pay for such a great game. At the time of writing it should be available on budget somewhere or other. With a great script, clever puzzles and a long playing time, Broken Sword is a must have for all fans of point and click adventures.
Minumum PC specifications:
18MB Disk Space
640x480 256 colors
2x CD-ROM & SoundCard
Broken Sword 2: The Smoking Mirror (Playstation/PC)
Once again filing your role as witty American George Stobbart, the sequel improves on pretty much every aspect of it's predecessor. Fans of the original will lap this one up, and newcomers, while it is recommended you play the first game to get a feel for some of the characters, can still enjoy this without much difficulty. You can also play Nico in this one, but that isn't really more than just a plot device.
Shortly after the first game, George must leave for America to tend to his dying father. While he is there, Nico, while trying to get behind a drug smuggling business, stumbles upon an obsidan stone. When George returns for a reunion, they both decide to go to Professor Oubier's house, a friend of Nico's, hoping to learn more about the mysterious stone. While there, some people attack them, take the stone, kidnap Nico, tie up George, set the house on fire and leave a Tarantula behind. How do you think your going to get out of this first puzzle?
The graphics are still just as good, as well as the animation being improved upon. Some of the backdrops are just as amazing as the first game, and then some. One bit where you stand on top of a hill, you can almost see the entire beach from where you climbed up, as well as the sun gleaming down and birds flying in the sky. Also, items placed in the field seem to be more obvious this time round, as the first game had items which curiously blended into the background and unless you had a pretty good monitor or TV, they weren't that easy to spot. That has been fixed, as well as a few other glitches.
The puzzles still retain their "not too hard, not too easy" difficulty. You won't figure them out straight away, but they are always logical and just take a bit of thinking to get the solution. The action scenes are less frequent, and now if your're going to die you'll have plenty of warning and time to figure something out. There are a few stealth bits as well, where you have to dodge guards and such. These are quite fun and challenging, but don't come often.
Once again, the voice acting is excellent. All of the original voices return to fill their respective roles once again. In fact, some of the lesser characters from the first game make a surprise reappearance in this game. The script is once again very good, but is a bit similar to the original game. The humour is still there, and it's been infused by the bucket load.
Once again, Revolution have created a great point and click adventure, and anyone who liked the first one or is a fan of the Lucasarts adventures should invest into this game very quickly.
Minumum PC specifications:
16 MB RAM
66 MB Hard Disk
Broken Sword 3: The Sleeping Dragon (Playstation 2/XBox/Gamecube/PC/Game Boy Advance)
Not much information has been released on the new Broken Sword adventure, currently scheduled for a 2003 release. Screenshots have been released, and I can say that the graphics engine has been completely revamped into a 3D world. The cartoon effects are still present, but look much more fluid in 3D. You can once again play as both Nico and George, and rumours are that there is a third character in production. No details on the plot have been confirmed, but judging from the title it seems to be based around some eastern-Asian influences. Fingers crossed for a good game.