Broken Sword goes Tomb Raider!
So the more astute of you will probably have noticed a theme emerging in my reviews lately. For those who haven’t noticed, I have been reviewing the ‘Broken Sword’ series. Part of the reason for this is that I’m currently not in a position of having any new games to review, and so have decided to re-visit some classics, and part of the reason is that it’s strongly rumoured (through leaks/hints from Charles Cecil, Rolf Saxon, and Revolution’s Facebook page) that a fifth game is in the pipeline, and that with this instalment, the series will return to its’ 2D roots. Anyway, not wanting to build anyone’s hopes up too much (although I’m pretty psyched), I’ll write more on that when/if the game is announced. The third instalment of the Broken Sword series is a fairly radical departure from the previous two instalments. The first thing the player will notice upon starting the game (if the game’s box didn’t make it obvious enough) is that the game has taken the plunge into the third dimension, and as such has become a very different animal to the simple point-and-click interface that worked so well in the first and second games. That said, The Sleeping Dragon does still manage to feel familiar, and doesn’t totally alienate the player from what they would have been used to in the previous games. As the game opens, we find the series’ hero George Stobbart traveling to Congo to write a patent for a machine, which a professor there claims can provide limitless clean energy. Upon arriving (after the plane he is traveling in is downed by a freak lightning storm), he sees the professor being murdered, and is propelled on yet another quest to save the world, this time by stopping a group of rogue Neo-Templars and their leader, Susarro, from harnessing mythical ‘dragon energy’ built up in ley lines to gain immeasurable power and immortality. With a third dimension being added, the game has obviously somewhat changed in nature, and the developers were afforded the opportunity to come up with some much more creative puzzles, and different ways of tackling familiar problems. With this in mind, I found it quite disappointing that such a large portion of the puzzles in the game were either block-moving puzzles or platform jumping puzzles. That said, I can’t criticize the game too harshly, as it does also contain some very intuitive puzzles, and the repetitive nature of other puzzles doesn’t manage to detract too much from the extremely engaging story.
Despite the fact that The Sleeping Dragon is far from a work of technical perfection, it is still extremely playable, and the story won’t fail to captivate the player
Another noticeable change is the interface, which no longer uses a point-and-click system, but entirely relies on the keyboard for both movement and interaction. Sadly, much like the otherwise ineffable Grim Fandango, the interface feels clunky and takes some getting used to, and at times the camera angles used can make certain segments pretty difficult to complete on the first attempt. This brings me to another slight niggle – while the first two games had certain points where a player could die if they failed to complete an action at the right time, or triggered a certain set of events, The Sleeping Dragon has traded this for a series of quick-time event styled segments, where you have to hit a certain action button at the correct split second in order to avoid death. While this is an interesting approach, it gets annoying very quickly, and breaks the flow of some fairly cinematic sequences. Putting these things aside though, the game does have some very good points. Considering that the game is now 12 years old, the graphics are actually a very strong point, with the facial animation in particular being a stand out feature, which really adds another level of depth to the already very strong host of characters. Unlike The Smoking Mirror, the characters in this game are all very believable, very well voiced, and all contribute to the story and sense of believability. The game is actually a very cinematic experience, with familiarly epic, fitting music, and a story that is paced almost perfectly, and absorbs the player at every turn. Despite the fact that The Sleeping Dragon is far from a work of technical perfection, it is still extremely playable, and the story won’t fail to captivate the player, and pull them through the sometimes gruelling and repetitive puzzles. Overall, while the jump to 3D wasn’t without its glitches, it has made The Sleeping Dragon hugely cinematic, and the combination of a great story and some brilliant characters (including the return of some familiar faces) makes for a great game, and a worthy addition to the series.
The Bad: Clunky Interface,; Repetitive Puzzles,; Annoying Quick-Time Events.