Monday 21 January 2013

Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars Review (Playstation)

In the mid 90's Revolution released Broken Sword with little hype or press attention. By the time the game came to be converted onto the Playstation it was being acknowledged as one of the most astounding adventures ever made. To this day it remains at the peek of the point and click genre.

The plot follows unsuspecting tourist George finds himself caught up in a murder at a small Paris cafe. After a bomb blast George raises himself from beneath a crushed umbrella, brushes himself off and unwisely decides to investigate. The story takes you all around the world as countries such as Ireland, France and Syria give up their parts of the mystery.

What makes the game so great is the care and attention to the script. Every conversation contains humour and charm and you never feel bored while the characters speak their piece. It helps that everyone you meet is brilliantly over the top (the mad kebab seller using the toilet brush for basting springs to mind). The skill of the writers to make sure the characters are funny as well as informative is to be commended. If a single character were removed the game would almost fall apart.

Apart from the great characters, the puzzles are among the finest to be found in the genre. Broken Sword gently eases you in to the way you need to think. Most puzzles are logical but do require you to really understand the objects you have. For instance, a blood pressure gauge found in the hospital can be used to stop the flow of water in a hose. The player really must think as inventively as the programmers to get through.

Turning the second nature PC controls into something workable on the Playstation was always going to be a challenge. But fear not as the game has about as good an interface as you can get on a console. You use the controller like a mouse to move the cursor around the screen. This can be slow, but there are a few tricks that make the process friendlier. The shoulder buttons will move the cursor to the top of the screen instantly, which allows quick access to items when you really need it. Secondly, holding down another button allows the cursor to move around a lot faster. The controls remain a bit clunky but are about as good as they could be given the platform.

Broken Sword is an exceptional game and remains a high point of the genre. Apart from the slight problem with the controls it's faultless. This is one of the best adventure stories you will ever encounter and is perfectly scripted and perfectly executed in just about every way.


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