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Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon (PC) artwork

Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon (PC) review


"Broken Sword, the award winning series, finally makes a long-awaited return to the pc and a new generation of consoles alike. Revolution promised changes this time however and their claims haven’t gone unfulfilled. Scrapping the tried and tested interface of old, in favour of a bold new design, our old friends George and Nico return from their previous global adventures to thwart another worldwide disaster. "



Broken Sword, the award winning series, finally makes a long-awaited return to the pc and a new generation of consoles alike. Revolution promised changes this time however and their claims haven’t gone unfulfilled. Scrapping the tried and tested interface of old, in favour of a bold new design, our old friends George and Nico return from their previous global adventures to thwart another worldwide disaster.

George, the star of the series begins aboard a plane flying over the Congo. He is on his way to see a scientist who claims he has created an infinite energy, needing no source of fuel. Suddenly the plane hits a storm and is sent crashing to the ground. As he awakes, he finds the plane is perched over the side of a cliff - the drop is sure to be fatal. Waking his friend Harry, they escape from the plane just in time before it falls to the river beneath. Moments later, they discover an entrance to the place where George’s friend is conducting his experiments – only to see him murdered by some strange man who looks clinically ill – zombie-like in fact. From here, George’s life is immediately put in danger, requiring some quick thinking to save his skin.

Nico, on the other hand, starts the adventure in her home city of Paris. She is answering to a call from a Vernon Blier, a man who has been paid to decipher an ancient manuscript. This text, known as the Voynich manuscript concerns the earth’s natural energy and how it channels in certain spots around the globe. These channels are commonly known as ley lines - or as the Chinese call them, dragon lines. Just as Nico arrives at his flat, she hears a gun being fired. Breaking into flat she discovers Vernon dead – what’s worse, the killer appears to look exactly like Nico herself!

From here both stories twist together until they collide, bringing the two old friends back together. From there, they work together to unravel the mystery surrounding the weird happenings that has taken place in their lives and soon get drawn into a huge conspiracy involving the very future of the world itself. Instantly George’s whit shines through spawning scores of one-liners giving the game the comedy element that has followed the series. No one but George Stobbart could find this level of humour, even in the drastic situations they often face. It really is unbelievable. Nico just plays along in a state of loving disbelief as always making for a classic duo.

The rest of the cast fit perfectly as always, with some characters from previous games showing their faces again. Andre plays a much fuller part in this outing, still battling George as Nico’s love interest. Fans will notice the absence of Dwaine and Pearl however, tourists which seem to turn up wherever George goes. The bad guys are a varied bunch too, consisting of a psychotic leather clad blond and an anaemic pensioner sporting a zombie like appearance. An unlikely duo, yet perfect as brawn and brains together. Each take their place as the story weaves this way and that, with some unlikely turns – especially towards the end. Even the best story-tellers would be stumped as to how the developers came up with the conclusion to the adventure.

What is commendable from the developers though, is the use of real history to base a game. Researching facts and events from hundreds of years ago, with which to entwine a story of their own – and furthermore – a game, should be greatly appreciated. It is, to my knowledge, rare to experience such a game. Each game in the series has taken something from the past as grounds for the story, from the first in the series concerning the Templars - a religious organisation from early in the last millennium - to myths concerning ancient gods in South America in the second title. This time around, the story swings back to events concerning the Templars, so a lot time is spent in Paris as in the first title.

The Sleeping Dragon introduces a new game-engine leaving the point-and-click style the series was based on to an end. Instead of just using your cursor to do all the work, you are now required to move around independently as well as use various buttons to get George or Nico to undertake different actions. In the corner of the screen are four circles which each represent an action, these are acted out by pressing a corresponding button. When you come across something of interest, certain icons will appear in the circles which let you know what actions are available. For instance, you find a stone on the ground, you would possibly be able to look at it or pick it up, this would be shown by an eye and a hand appearing in two of the circles. You then need to press the corresponding button to select which of the actions you wish to take, it really is that simple. A twinkling star defines anything of interest from those that have no application, saving you from examining objects that are of visual use only. This new system speeds things up and opens up possibilities for new puzzles, in addition to many other things.

For example, this instalment gives us the ability to climb, jump and move in all sorts of ways like we couldn’t before. George is now required to leap over crevices, shimmy along over perilous drops and undertake many more physical acts that he couldn’t with the point and click interface. Revolution has taken this new opportunity to add many puzzles involving moving crates, rocks and so forth. Weather you need to clear a path or attain something out or reach, the puzzles get more difficult as you progress through the story. By the time you arrive at the last few scenarios, you will have undoubtedly grown tired of them - just as they are commanding a little thought to complete. More interesting are the action scenes which require quick hand-eye co-ordination to progress. While the action unfolds, you may be required to press a certain button when the corresponding icon appears in one of the four circles. Failure to do so will result in your untimely death and the scene restarting. One of the better sequences involves Nico, her look-alike, a frying pan and a fridge!

Bringing about this new style of play has inadvertently quashed a problem that plagued the previous games. Although the point and click interface was well applied, you would often get stuck in a certain location seemingly unavailable to continue. After trying each of your apparent options again and again, you would then unconsciously move the pointer across something you hadn’t seen before. More often than not, the reason would be that the offending object was tiny, almost invisible even. The higher resolution the pc boasted lessened this problem slightly over the Playstation version, but was still there nonetheless. Of coarse, once this fortunate discovery had been made, you were on your way again, with only a slight curse or two to show for your trouble.

Furthermore, with this setback aside, the game is easier, or at least seems it. I’m not saying this is a good thing - far from it in fact. But as the game isn’t short by any means, you can only assume that it is the lack of a curser that causes this drop in the time spent adventuring.

Another aspect the step up to the next generation of platforms has also brought about, is a fresh new look. Instead of the bold, cartoony graphics from before, we are now presented with a beautiful textured world to explore, complete with a third dimension. While I’ll admit, there were nothing wrong at all before the change was made; the visuals in this game are nothing short of stunning. Each location has been expertly crafted, often unique in its own way, with many hosting fiendish puzzles. From the familiar streets of Paris, to a huge castle in Prague, the attention to detail never lets up. With these new visuals also come new looking characters too. George looks all action now, like a Hollywood star rather than the old tourist he used to be. Losing the jeans and t-shirt in favour of trousers and buttoned down shirt, he wouldn’t look lost in one of the Indiana Jones films. Nico on the other hand looks much more stunning than before, often donning revealing outfits to show her new found curves. Later in the adventure she also takes up her action gear, giving Lara Croft a run for her money in both visual and physical departments.


Voice acting is something that I always thought let certain games down a little. Being a big fan of the Resident Evil series, I have always thought that the wrong kind of tone and emotion affected some parts of the dialogue. This was accentuated by the series being set around such a serious storyline. Broken Sword 3 never has this problem, sounding perfect throughout each and every scene. This is a feat indeed considering the whole game depends on conversation, the jokes, and the drama that drives it. George is as sarcastic as ever, rolling out one-liners at every opportunity, with Nico often looking on in her silent disapproval. Andre, with his French arrogance, taunts George at every given opportunity, often sparking petty arguments. Anyone familiar with the series will note the little change in the attitudes between each of the main characters. Every other part too, no matter how small, works wonderfully with the game. It is nice to see so much effort put into this often lacking area.

There are a few other small formalities which also add to the game. Only fans of the series will be able to notice and therefore appreciate them, yet they are there. Firstly is the process around dying in the game. Before you would have had to reload your game to continue – now you just restart the sequence of events. Life has certainly been made a lot easier here, as some scenes command a few attempts to progress. Also, making up for the lack of ending is the nice ‘conceptual art’ gallery you may look through when you have finished. It may be just a few sketches put together by the art team as the game unfolded, but any post game goodies are fine by me.

The history behind several of the games’ elements including the Templars, the Voynich manuscript and natural energy can be viewed too if you wish, giving you some background to the adventure. References are made to true life facts, as well as the game giving a nice touch, as well some information before you start.

Not everything is perfect however, although it is only a few small things that slightly let the game down. As with the first two games, what again is disappointing is the ending sequence you are gifted with upon completion. Maybe Revolution views the ending as just the finale to one long story, therefore not requiring any length, yet it saddens me to see your reward pass by quicker that the credits that proceed it.

The only other problem arises when you are running and the camera changes. Maybe it’s my lack of experience in this field of games, as I’ve never been a huge fan of three dimensional landscapes, I don’t know. Instead of the controls altering to suit, the original directions remain, often resulting in George-meets-wall type scenarios. Its not something you tend to get used to as you spend more time with the game either, making for a small hitch you must get used to.

Don’t let this put you off though, as you would be missing one of the best adventures ever created. Take Revolutions possible aspect on the ending and just enjoy the story as a whole - one of the most entertaining ever to be committed to disc. Then once you’ve realised how much you’ve enjoyed it, you can go and find the two that preceded it. Game like this are truly special – I’ve been waiting three years for this – so it is an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed at any cost.

Rating: 10/10

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Community review by djy8c (February 18, 2004)

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