Broken Sword 3: The Sleeping Dragon (pal)
Released UK 12/03
We are here in the presence of an adventure. This is high adventure at its peak, spanning the continents from the English countryside to the caves of The Congo. Broken Sword reveals, like its predecessors, a gripping tale of arcane intrigue, situated somewhere roughly between Indiana Jones and Tintin.
The folks have clearly been busy over at Revolution, busy transforming their impressive cartoony 2D world into a highly impressive 3D one. We all know that beauty is only skin-deep however, and this instalment of the Broken Sword series, like the others, will divide opinion as to its inner charms. Fans of the genre will be out buying a copy now, whereas adrenaline-junkies will probably just hear ‘point-and-click’ and move on, without giving it a second thought.
This is a shame, because the game holds some real treats for the dedicated adventurer. We are treated to lush, detailed environments, witty scripting and some genuinely great voice acting. George and Nico, the two player characters, are impossible to dislike, and many more bizarre personalities will be encountered along the way. These include a horny skater, a nosy neighbour, an alcoholic Aussie pilot… when was the last time you can say you truly liked a character in a game, or even gave a monkey’s one way or the other?
In terms of game mechanics, the title could be described as a largely puzzle-based adventure. Problems are solved by talking and acquiring information, exploring, choosing the right item (hint: try the metal rod) or sometimes through physical means - those damned block-pushing puzzles even seem to have weaselled their way in there. Whilst discovering the solution to a problem usually results in the cursing of one’s own brain rather than the designers’, you may find that trying to use every object in your inventory in times of need becomes tiresome - as, granted, it always has with the old point-and-click.
Broken Sword 3 has other problems. Loading does interrupt the action, especially when it signifies a ‘surprise’ action sequence (these are basically a joke – a single button push to dive out of the way of a car, etc). There are some minor glitches, the lip synching isn’t perfect, and there are only so many ways to say “this door is locked”. It’s also fairly short. But this doesn’t matter much, because The Sleeping Dragon is more than the sum of its parts.
The game holds you because it looks incredible, sounds spectacular with its impressive cinematic score, and feels epic. It feels like an adventure. The new 3D interface also works well – it may wrinkle the noses of hardcore 2D adventure fans, but should provide a happy middle-ground for most. The title will be rejected by some for its inoffensiveness (if your game collection consists of purely fighting robots and driving/killing games, you can knock 25 off the given score) but revered by others. Fans and newcomers unite - it might not technically be point-and click anymore, yet there has never been a better time to pay homage to the mighty point-and-click adventure.