Developer Revolution Software really understands the classic adventure genre and capitalizes on its strengths in Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon.
PC and console games seem to converge more and more every day. Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon is a perfect example. It takes the traditional point-and-click PC adventure and updates it with the contemporary style--and a bit of the action--that you'd expect from a console adventure. It's a game that feels at home in both the PC and console worlds. It's true that Broken Sword isn't hugely innovative and suffers from its share of faults, but its particular blend of features gives it a fresh, fun feel. Just as importantly, developer Revolution Software really understands the classic adventure genre and capitalizes on its strengths. You'll unravel a colorful, witty yarn filled with loveable characters, dramatic encounters, sharp dialogue, and exotic locales.
Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon is a loose sequel. The first game in the series, called Circle of Blood in the US and Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars in Europe, came out on the PC back in 1996 and was ported to the PlayStation a couple of years later. The second game, Broken Sword: The Smoking Mirror, arrived on the PC in 1997 and was again ported to the PlayStation a couple of years after the fact. The latest installment in the series, The Sleeping Dragon, was designed with both the PC and consoles in mind. Moreover, it marks the series' transition from 2D to 3D.
Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon wins high points for style, as it often looks like a slickly directed animated film. Vibrant colors, expressive lead characters, and detailed settings all draw you into the game. In fact, the parallels to an animated film show up right from the start of the game. After a dark and mysterious prologue, you see series hero George Stobbart soaring in a plane over the lush jungles of the Congo. With a heroic orchestral theme that builds excitement and well-chosen camera angles that add visual drama, it almost feels like you're sitting in a theater while watching the beginning of a film. This Indiana Jones-style scene hits all the right buttons, and everything about the game says "high adventure" right from the start.
Broken Sword also does a fine job of merging bits of console action adventure gaming with the traditions of the more static point-and-click PC adventures. You maneuver George--and later his fellow adventurer Nico Collard--from a third-person perspective by using controls that feel more natural on the Xbox controller than on the PC keyboard. Whenever you near a hotspot that you can examine or an area that you can climb, jump across, or shimmy along, icons light up to show you your available options. You then just press the corresponding button to select your option. When standing near a telephone, for example, you can examine it, listen to messages on the answering machine, or make a call. When standing near a crate, you can push or pull it and climb up or down from it, all by using this simple icon system.
The system also means that the game's climbing and jumping puzzles are less stressful than in a true action adventure game. Here you don't need to employ lightning-fast reflexes to avoid a fall; you merely press the proper button to jump or to climb at a valid location, and then you let the game handle the rest. This simplified system will probably disappoint those of you who are looking for Tomb Raider-style challenges.
In theory--and often in practice--the game's interface is an elegant one. It's not without its faults, though. For one thing, you have no control over the camera. Instead, it shifts to preset locations as you move. This can create some nice cinematic moments with overhead tracking shots or angles that dramatically capture the play of light and shadow. Unfortunately, the camera can be a big pain since you have little control over what you see without actually moving your character all over the place first. This can make climbing-puzzles or stealth sequences overly difficult since you can't always effectively see where you are or where you're going.
The preset camera angles also mean that movement directions essentially switch when you move to a new area. One second, pressing left moves your character left. However, when the camera whips around, you're still pressing left, but you're moving right. You get used to this pretty quickly, but it always remains a bit awkward and can be disorienting.
Interface problems don't end there. You sometimes have to align yourself too precisely with a hotspot in order for the game to make you aware of it via a little star icon. It's even worse when you have to perfectly align yourself with a narrow object for climbing. This oversensitivity makes it too easy to overlook things and too easy to waste time micromanaging your character's movements. Making characters run creates more annoyances. For instance, whenever they brush against an object, they slow to a crawl, thus requiring you to back away and start running again.
- Player Reviews: 14
- Game Universe:
- Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon (PS2, PC, XBOX),
- Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars (PS, PC, GBA, MOBILE, WII, DS),
- Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars (The Director's Cut) (IP, PC, MAC, AND),
- Broken Sword: The Smoking Mirror (PC, MAC),
- Secrets of the Ark: A Broken Sword Game (PC),
- Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror (PS)
- Number of Players: