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Broken Sword

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Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror
Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon

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Broken Sword: The Angel of Death
Broken Sword 2.5

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Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror - PC / PSOne / iOS (1997)

European PC Cover

Alternate Cover

Broken Sword II

Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror, was released just a year after the original. The graphics and engine are more or less the same as its predecessor, although the item text pops up when you highlight an item a la Beneath a Steel Sky, and the voice quality is much better. You can also jump to locations by double clicking on an exit, which speeds up movement quite a bit.

Taking place a few months after the original game, George and Nico are invited to the house of a noted archaeologist to examine some fantastic mythical object. They're greeted at the door by a man who looks less like a butler and more like a hitman. Something is obviously amiss, but before the duo can realize it, it's too late - Nico is kidnapped, and George is tied to a chair as the house is burnt to the ground. After escaping and chasing some leads, he rescues Nico, only to learn of a drug smuggling ring operating out of South America. This illegitimate operation is actually a cover-up for a crazy evil man named Karzac, who seeks to resurrect the evil Mayan god Tezcatlipoca, but needs to obtain three special stones before the ceremony can be completed. With one stone in hand, George and Nico split up to find the remaining stones, and once again, attempt to save the world.

The tone and humor is also much the same, and the writing is still quite excellent. You'll run into a few old faces too, like the archaeologist Andre Lobineau, who still has a bit of a thing for Nico, as well as Duane and Pearl, who, at one point, help George escape from a South American prison. Later on, George takes off to the apparently dangerous Zombie Island, where he wanders into a clueless movie crew, and during the final scenes, you're accompanied by a Mayan midget named Titipoco who only has the slightest idea how to speak English. One of the main villains (if you could call him that) is a "ruthless" dictator that's a bit of a mommy's boy. Possibly the most amusing part is right before the end of the game - before you enter the final room, the icon text for the entrance reads "Certain Death".

While the writing and story is satisfying, this sequel still appears to be missing something. Either they took the criticisms of having too much writing to heart, or they just weren't as interested in Mayan gods as the Knights Templar, but there just isn't quite as much depth to the plot as before. Furthermore, some major events happen completely off camera, making it seem like the production was rushed and scenes were dropped.

This affects the ending as well. While the final scenes are quite satisfying, you don't actually "play" any part of them - even less than the original game, actually. The climactic puzzle - where you need to open a door by rotating a series of wheels to match some tiles - is more tedious than it is difficult.

Some of the jokes just don't seem to work either. Take, for example, the buzzer from the first Broken Sword game. You get it pretty early in the game, and you can show it to practically anyone - the running joke is that George is too incompetent to get anyone to fall for it, but it ends up saving his life near the end of the game. One of the objects you get early in the game is a pair of frilly panties - a gift from Andre to Nico, apparently. It's used right at the beginning of the game, to open a door during a fire. And for the rest of the game...well, you can show it to people to get their reaction, but there's no real payoff. It simply disappears from your inventory at a certain point.

In the grand scheme of things, these are ultimately nitpicks - it's still a fantastic game, and most definitely worth playing. It's also notable for being the only game in the Broken Sword series to NOT involve the Knights Templar in any capacity, which makes it stand out a bit more from its peers. In 2010 a revamped version was released for the iOS under the title "Broken Sword 2 Remastered". It includes the dialogue portraits like the Director's Cut of the first game, as well as a hint system, but otherwise it's mostly identical to the original release.


Broken Sword II (PC)

Broken Sword II (PC)

Broken Sword II (PC)

Broken Sword II (PC)

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Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon / Broken Sword: Nenereru Ryuu no Densetsu (ブロークン・ソード〜眠れる竜の伝説〜) - PC / Playstation 2 / Xbox (2003)

American PC Cover

Alternate Cover

Japanese PS2 Cover

One would think the life of a patent lawyer would be boring - what with being cooped up in an office in Idaho, of all places - but that's not the case with George Stobbart, who seems destined for crazy adventures. Although him and Nico have since split up, he ends up in the Congo jungle to investigate a patent for a machine that can apparently create limitless energy. It seems too crazy to be true, but things get complicated when George witnesses his client being murdered by a sinister man named Susarro. Meanwhile back in France, Nico has an appointment to interview a hacker who's decoded the mysterious Voynich Manuscript...until said hacker is murdered by a woman dressed in disguise, framing Nico in the process. The view switches back and forth between the two, until both of them learn that their investigations are connected to the same mystery.

Susarro has taken charge of the Neo-Templars and renamed them The Cult of the Dragon. He seeks to harness a geothermic power of the Earth by mining ley lines (also described here as Dragon Veins), allowing him to rule the world. The adventure is structured much like the previous games, with lots of globe trotting to be done and secret artifacts to be found. George travels to Glastonbury, which is apparently a tourist trap due to the folklore behind the place (it has heavy connections to King Arthur and the Grail legend) while Nico stays in Paris for her part. When the two team up, they explore a temple in Congo, complete with Indiana Jones-style traps and puzzles, invade Susarro's castle in Prague, and discover the true secret of the Dragon in Egypt.

A lot happened in the eight years between the release of the second and third Broken Sword games. Lucasarts and Sierra, formerly the two giants in the arena, gave up after Grim Fandango and Gabriel Knight 3, leaving the field to a handful of independent programmers. Once again unfazed by the odds against them, Revolution revived their flagship franchise with The Sleeping Dragon...but not without some significant changes, in hopes to capture a bigger market.

The biggest and most obvious alteration are the completely 3D polygonal graphics in lieu of the hand drawn 2D cartoons. The change removes much of what made the original Broken Sword games unique, and so it looks like practically every other game on the market. That being said, it actually looks pretty good, with detailed, well lit locales and fairly decent character models. Since the plot is somewhat connected to the original game, there are a few familiar places you can explore, like Nico's apartment and Montfaucon Square, but now rendered with polygons.

With the change in visual style also comes a completely different control scheme - the mouse driven interface has been completely ditched in favor of direct control. You can technically use a keyboard, but it's obviously designed for a gamepad. (In addition to the PC version, it was also released on the Xbox and Playstation 2, with the latter only being available in Europe. A Gamecube version was planned but cancelled.) As you move close to an object, you can press one of the four face buttons to interact with it, depending on what it is. The camera style is much like Resident Evil: Code Veronica, with mostly static viewpoints that occasionally scroll or switch positions based on your movement. While it's a bit awkward - and can potentially cause some troubles in a handful of action based segments - at least it doesn't utilize the much maligned tank controls of Resident Evil. In a further bit of frustration, you can no longer skip lines of dialogue, which tends to make things drag a bit.

Another big problem that comes with 3D graphics are its location designs. In the 2D games, areas can consist of a small handful of still screens. In 3D games, they need to be much larger, which also means a lot more tedious running around. This game has a number of filler areas which serve nothing but to waste time, especially when you first enter a new section and find out that five of the six doors are locked and completely irrelevant. They could've done a lot to condense the spaces, although it probably would've felt too cramped to be believable.

This may be a tough barrier to get over for many longtime adventure game enthusiasts - especially those with a case of PC gamer elitism - but it generally works well. But it's not without its problems, which mostly involve puzzle design. There are still a number of inventory based puzzles, some of which involve getting help from your partner, but for some reason, the developers figured the use of 3D space meant that it would be suitable to stick in box puzzles, the bane of video gamers everywhere. They start off simple, but soon get more complex and irritating as the adventure moves on. What's even worse is the boneheaded decision to stick in a few stealth segments. Like the original games, there are a handful of reaction events, where you need to press a button within a split second notice, or run from an enemy, or else you're killed. There's no need to reload any saved games, because it picks off right before the segment starts, but you still need to rewatch the cutscene over and over until you get it right.

It also seems that with the shift away from cartoony graphics came the desire to be a bit more mature. The plot is just as cool as the previous games, and George and Nico are still just as amusing, but The Sleeping Dragon is largely missing a lot of the quirk that defined the rest of the series. With the exception of some of the characters early on in Glastonbury, most of the NPCs just don't have the same snap, and the dialogue just isn't nearly as funny. You can no longer talk about every item in your inventory with everyone, which was probably to cut down on extraneous dialogue, but also loses a lot of flavor. There are still some cool aspects, though - you get to meet the niece of Lady Piermount (the snooty woman from the hotel in the first Broken Sword), as well as her crazy father, and it's neat how they turned Professor Bruno, an extremely minor character from the first game, into a major supporting character in this one. So despite its issues, The Sleeping Dragon is still a pretty cool game - it's just not quite up to its predecessors.

Also, beware that the original US release of The Sleeping Dragon features the much dreaded Starforce copy protection. To get around this, either get one of the compilation DVDs that includes all three games, or download it from a place like Good Old Games.

Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon (PC)

Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon (PC)

Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon (PC)

Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon (PC)

Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon (PC)

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Page 1:
Broken Sword

Page 2:
Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror
Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon

Page 3:
Broken Sword: The Angel of Death
Broken Sword 2.5

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