May 15, 2009

Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars: The Director's Cut: The Wii Review

Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars The Director's Cut WiiAs far as legendary creators of point-and-click adventure games go, Revolution, despite having only released a handful of titles, is second only to Lucasarts, though, as most Sierra fans will happily admit, quantity has absolutely nothing to do with quality. As for most hardened adventurers, they will definitely remember Beneath A Steel Sky, Revolution's magnum opus, a game that is up there with Monkey Island 2, Gabriel Knight 3 and Grim Fandango, and a game that you simply have to play and then play again just to make sure you fully enjoyed its delights (especially now that it's free). Many more though, the rather more mainstream audience apparently, will probably remember Revolution for the original Broken Sword instead; it was always the more popular game and has even gone on and spawned three quality sequels.

Interestingly Broken Sword, or to give it its full name Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars (a.k.a. The Circle of Blood in the US), was, despite its popularity and the fact that it also appeared on the PlayStation, a truly great point-and-click adventure game. Possibly even the last truly successful genre offering ever, and one of the first games to have a Templars theme. Some would even call it a classic and they definitely wouldn't be wrong.The player stepped into the shoes of George Stobbart (a semi-likeable American tourist in Paris), who, with the help of Nico Collard (a very likeable French journalist), had to travel around the world solving puzzles, discovering the true history of said monastic order and uncovering conspiracies. Now, as most of you dear readers are either already familiar with the plot or don't care to have it spoilt for you, well, I wont say anything else about it. I'll just admit it's way above than the average game offering in terms of quality, sports some well defined characters, interesting themes, varied locales, a decent story arc and some rather successful touches of humour. Actually I'd rather watch someone play through Broken Sword than watch the Da Vinci Code ever again. Besides, Broken Sword still looks absolutely fantastic.

What's more, the game I should be talking about -what this review is all about- is none other than the brand new Director's Cut of Broken Sword for the Nintendo Wii; the only console that can properly handle adventures. And, yes, it does handle Broken Sword brilliantly, despite the Wii Remote being no mouse. After all, the slight lack of precision is offset by the sheer joy of playing an adventure on a big screen and from the comfort of your sofa.

Now, and to be absolutely honest, I have to admit I would probably have loved this Director's Cut if it was nothing more than a quick and dirty Wii port with new controls thrown in. I really would, but this, well, this was just unexpected. The game has really been expanded, updated, enriched and given the true -and 100% successful- director's cut treatment. Possibly for the first time in gaming history.
Not only have all the original artists (and that would of course include legendary Dave Gibbons of Watchmen fame), actors, and team returned to update this classic, but the work they've done is truly stellar. There are brand new gameplay segments where you get to play as Nico, new recorded music, new bits of dialog, new cut-scenes, brand new graphics, more puzzles, an amazing hint system, a helpful and well written diary you can access at all times and even a new anti-colonial (!) subplot. Of course the old bits have also been upgraded to look and sound the part -though a slight gap of quality, especially between new and old audio, is at times noticeable- and some gameplay glitches have also been fixed. Yes, even that notoriously frustrating goat puzzle has been simplified. And picking up that irritating little wire in Ireland wont irritate anyone any more.

On the downside of things the clickable hotspots have been reduced and the disc doesn't offer anything else besides the game as one -well, I at least- would expect form anything labeled a director's cut. I mean, really, how difficult would it be to include some trailers, bits of concept art, some sort of making of and a slightly richer manual?Then again, I really shouldn't be complaining. I mean, look at the screenshot above. The improved interface and Dave Gibbons' close-ups of characters , as well as the excellent and innovative new puzzles (especially the two deciphering ones) are more than enough extras and brilliant additions to an already excellent adventure.

Verdict: Buy it. Even if you don't have Nintendo's latest console, buy a Wii and then buy it. Then love it sweetly, passionately and deeply for Broken Sword deserves it.

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  1. I'm almost tempted to buy a Wii right now. I could, of course, buy one as a present for the kids, then just confiscate it for my own use.

  2. "then just confiscate it for my own use"

    #Xmas day memories of watching dad and uncle play Subbuteo all day until mum and aunty threw them off the dining room table!#

    Some things never change. ;)

  3. @ Nreive: One of the most cunning plans in the history of cunning plans! I say go with it and play some Wii.

    @ JMcL73: Haha indeed! And I still remember my dad playing (along with a friend of his) with my maerklin train, while mother was watching in utter disbelief.

  4. Damn you Gnome! I had just about convinced myself that it wasn't worth buying this since I'd already played the original Broken Sword on the PC... now it's gone to the top of my wanted list!!!

    My wallet does not like you much right now... :-D

  5. I hate to throw a spanner in the ointment, but the updated graphics just aren't as nice as the originals are they? But then again, I love pixels in all their blocky glory.

    I do realise that my opinion is worthless (not having played any Broken Sword game). But still, if I do play one, I'll have a bash at the original.

  6. Oh, I forgot to say: Dave Gibbons is a bloody genius!

  7. @ Captain D: Oh come on... tell the wallet I'll be taking it for ice cream. And tequila. And then to wallet cinema. It'll be happy, it will...

    @ Stickhead: Indeed Dave Gibbons is a genius. Oh, and worry not. By updated I mean that -somehow; perhaps via magic I guess- the original graphics have been made to look great on current TVs. They are still made of traditionally crunchy pixels really, just not as crisp as the brand new art. I'd strongly suggest going for the Director's Cut over the original. Especially for gameplay/story reasons.