Platform: PC (also on Xbox)
Publisher: Adventure Company
3rd person point and click adventure games are an acquired taste, I’ll admit. There are only a few good ones on the market, but none that really stand out as fantastic. Broken Sword takes a somewhat fresh approach, thought it too, seems to fall apart in areas. Stylistically speaking, it’s great. It looks and feels like an animated film, with sharp,highly detailed qualities to both characters and environments. The opening plane crash scene, which is sort of like an animated Indiana Jones sequence complete with John Williams-esque music, lets you know straight out the game is going to rely on cinematic storytelling methods. The user interface is very friendly, and since it’s dependent on proximity, it allows for a whole load of different actions. For example, stand next to a box and you’ll be given the option to climb on it, move it, or inspect it. Should there be an item on it to take, a take icon will appear. Stand next to a ledge and various climb functions will appear. All interactive items are highlighted by a small sparkle effect, usually several per room which you can cycle through using the page up/down buttons. Additionally, you needn’t worry about lining up jumps and falls, the game handles accuracy for you. The freshest idea in the game is a function that attempts to spice up fight sequences. When you’re in a situation that calls for quick thinking–dodging a speeding car, ducking a bullet–the game will briefly highlight an action icon.
But here’s problem one. Generally, the keyboard doesn’t respond quickly enough, and you’re forced to replay the entire sequence over until you get it right, which means listening to the same bunch of dialogue again and again with no way to skip over it. Sometimes, on the retake, I knew the action was coming and hit the button right on time, and still the command didn’t register. Frustrating. Problem number two, definitely the biggest prob, is the directional key mess. Because the camera angle shifts, running left becomes running right as you turn a corner, and hitting the opposite arrow key doesn’t necessarily rectify the problem. It all depends on the new camera angle, which means you may even have to toggle between multiple arrow keys if you need to move diagonally. On the flip side, Revolution decided to camp up the dramatis personae with over the top character stereotypes, like the drunk Australian pilot, so you’re eager to get to the next clue.The look is nice, the puzzles are adequate, and the mystery is fun. If you’re a point and clicker, and don’t mind running into some walls, this is definitely worth the price of admission.