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Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars (PlayStation) artwork

Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars (PlayStation) review


"Broken Sword for the PlayStation is a terrible game. It contains all the faults of the PC version with plenty more added due to it being such a terrible conversion. This was one of the first games to come out on the PlayStation and it is sure showing it ages. Clunky gameplay, horrific loading times, stupefying slow pace and unforgivable levels of frustration caused by lazy, glitchy gameplay all contribute to make this one of the most overrated and boring games ever. "



Broken Sword for the PlayStation is a terrible game. It contains all the faults of the PC version with plenty more added due to it being such a terrible conversion. This was one of the first games to come out on the PlayStation and it is sure showing it ages. Clunky gameplay, horrific loading times, stupefying slow pace and unforgivable levels of frustration caused by lazy, glitchy gameplay all contribute to make this one of the most overrated and boring games ever.

You take control of an American called George Stobbart. He is on holiday is France when a bomb goes off nearby. He sees a clown running from the scene and as he starts to investigate the cause of the explosion he is drawn into a web of intrigue surrounding the Templars myth. His adventure takes him to many places across the globe where he gets to patronise many racial stereotypes.

Really, sometimes I wonder what the hell some American game designers are thinking when they programme foreigners in games. They seem to have gone out of their way to get up the nose of every country included. So the French are pompous, the Irish are all blarney and alcohol, the English are uptight, the Arabs are shifty and untrustworthy. But of course our American hero, George is witty, handsome and has a jolly good laugh at the expense of the less enlightened peoples he meets, bogged down as they are in their cultural prejudices against him. Ho, ho, ho… git.

Graphical it is reasonable considering its age (1996 was the release date). Nice backgrounds however are rather spoiled by the flat, 2D characters walking around on top. Add in the small animation loops of movement given to each character and its hardly a feast for the eyes. The voice acting is also more grating than great. George Stobbart has the kind of voice that just makes you want to punch him. The rest of the cast sound like a few American actors standing in a studio seeing who can do the most offensive impressions of other countires accents. Dick Van Dyke eat your heart out.

The game is a point and click of the defiantly old skool. You explore screens by moving a mouse pointer over every part until you are allowed to interact with and object. You also collect object to combine and use to solve puzzles. There have been many great games in this genre, but unfortunately most of them appeared on the PC only where this kind of gameplay is considered more acceptable. With the lack of a mouse and this game having appeared before the advent of the analogue controller, moving the mouse pointer has to be achieved using the d-pad, which is a clumsy and inexact way of doing this kind of thing.

Luckily as the game is paced slower than a sloth on mogadon there are few places where quick reactions are needed. This genre is noted for its puzzles, but where Lucas Arts point and click games are full of elegantly complex puzzles that can be solved with abit of lateral thinking. Broken Swords puzzles almost need to be solved at random. And unforgivably, you can die without warning. In several places you can be killed without any warning that your actions will result in your death. So you are forced to keep saving all the time.

Oh boy and how long does it take to access the save screen? The loads, saves and even moving from screen to screen bring up a new loading screen and you have to wait around 30-40 seconds. That’s around half a minute each time you move across to another screen. Yes, you spend around of quarter of your time watching the loading screen. Which is actually more fun than playing the game.

It’s a good idea to make regular saves and keep them, as you may encounter one of the many “glitches” that result in you not being able to finish the game and having to restart or at least start from an earlier point and try not to do what ever triggered the glitch. You can fins yourself doing the task you are meant to do, over and over. Frustration mounting, as you KNOW this is the right thing to do as you had to resort to a walkthrough. But it still ISN’T working, and as far as you can see there is no reason why it shouldn’t. That’s when game rage sets it.

I remember reading an interview with the guy behind this game. He was gleeful about how hard people found the puzzles, like the infamous “goat” puzzle. But to me, if a game is causing that much frustration, irritation and annoyance its no game. Correct me if I am incorrect but games are meant to be fun, not a chore. And games shouldn’t make you feel stupid either. “What? I should have combined the used tissue with the clowns nose? (or whatever), well what a thicko I am!!!”

Sometimes, when people are angry at a game they say in the review “I broke it”. Over the top writing perhaps? You would think so, but then I played Broken Sword and after restarting twice, getting stuck in two glitches, watched interminable load screens, got irritated by the smug little worm Stobbart and angered by the stereotyping…well I lost it. I not only snapped the disc in two, but I nailed it to a Frisbee and flung it over the rainbow.

Regrettably I have now discovered that Broken Sword on the PlayStation is a sought after and collectable game that can go for anything up to £30 ($50) on eBay. So my advice to you is this. If you have this game and hate it as much as I did, or you see it for a few pounds in a second hand shop. Buy it and sell it on. But whatever you do, don’t play it. It’s not worth the ulcers.

Rating: 1/10

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Community review by falsehead (March 09, 2004)

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