Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars - The Director’s Cut Review
Posted by Kim Wild
The Broken Sword murder mystery adventure comes to Wii, but is this the definitive version?
It is with some fond memories that we review Broken Sword: The Director's Cut on the Wii. The original game proved to be a thoroughly enjoyable mystery adventure, with a tantalizing storyline, memorable characters and logical puzzles. This new release is more than just a simple port, adding a few more hours of new content along with other enhancements, and although we feel more could have been done with certain aspects of the game, the adventure is still worthy of your precious time.
Unlike the original, which opened up at the dramatic bombing of the cafe by the costume killer dressed as a clown, this version sees us take on the role of George Stobbart's partner in crime Nico Collard. Photo journalist Nico Collard has been given a new assignment by her editor to interview Pierre Carchon. Upon her arrival at the Palais Royale, Pierre is brutally murdered by a devilish mime and Nico embarks on a quest to find the murderer that leads her into a world she could never have expected.
Although it is undeniably dramatic and makes perfect sense in relation to the storyline to have Nico's section arrive first, part of us feels that it lacks the impact of the original cafe bombing, which now takes place further along in the game. This is merely a personal preference, and doesn't detract from the overall quality of the game. Once Nico meets up with George Stobbart, an American tourist that is purely in the wrong place at the wrong time, the duo investigate a mystery that travels back to the Templar Knights and soon involves a conspiracy of murder and intrigue that will affect the fate of the world.
The introduction of Nico's section means that new puzzles that make use of the Wii's capabilities are available and these are well thought out, proving to be logical to solve and enjoyable, while also suiting the setting of the game. There are locked doors to be opened in the form of a sliding puzzle, coded letters to solve, pieces of a photograph puzzle that have to be rotated and even the rotating of a lock to open a safe. A few control issues do arise, particularly with the opening of the safe which involves twisting the remote. It's a great idea, but quite fiddly to pull off and took a bit longer to solve than it should due to the awkwardness of the controls. The new content from Nico is very welcome and explains her role in the adventure more fully but unfortunately at only a couple of hours long, doesn't add as much to the game as we would have hoped, ending rather suddenly and leaving us wanting more. It is however, integrated very well into the main adventure that you would be hard pushed to say it didn't belong to the overall storyline.
Other new content to the main adventure involve the use of character portraits, which provide a close up of their faces while talking. Drawn by Dave Gibbons, of Watchman fame and who has previously been involved with Revolution's adventure Beneath a Steel Sky, these are of a high standard yet are only partially animated, which at times can feel a little disconcerting. They are however a nice addition to the game and help to shape out some of the character's personalities. There is also a very useful hint system included which reveals hints only when you have been stuck for a while, and a diary keeps track of where you are in the adventure which is helpful to refer to whenever you have to stop playing. A rather pointless (but a nice gesture nonetheless) two player mode has also been added, which enables another player with a remote to move another cursor across the screen, with the main player able to transfer the controls across to the other at the touch of a button.
While some adventure games struggle on the Wii, failing to adequately move across the screen as you would expect of a mouse like device, Broken Sword manages to pull this off without a hitch, with cursor movement gliding with ease and a simple press of the button examines or uses an item on screen. Collected items are displayed at all times at the bottom of the screen and are easily selected and any items that need to be combined can be done so just be dragging and dropping the relevant icons. Although there are a couple of occasions when it is hard to spot items in the background, this is a problem of the genre itself and not anything to do with the quality of the Wii port.
Despite the bulk of the game being the same adventure it always was, Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars still stands up incredibly well even though it is clocking on for thirteen years. Storyline is still as immersive as ever, with excellent dialogue and an entertaining collection of characters while the puzzles are logical and a joy to solve. The visuals still retain charm and detail, with some scenes proving spectacular to behold.
Where we feel the port has suffered is that many of the backgrounds and animation haven't been refined for the Wii- while Nico's new sections are vibrantly coloured and detailed, George's sections haven't been revamped at all, with cut-scenes looking noticeably jaggy around the edges. Audio also suffers in places- although the musical soundtrack is as sweeping as ever and is as captivating in new sections as well as old, the speech really varies in quality, one minute sounding muffled, the next having an almost echoey effect. They don't detract too much from the overall high standards of the voice acting, but it can be a little strange at times.
Although Broken Sword: The Director's Cut doesn't add as much new content that we would have liked and in some areas hasn't received a full makeover, it can't be denied that George and Nico's adventure remains as compelling as it was years ago. Those who played the original expecting a revolution will find this disappointing particularly at the full retail price, but if you are a big fan of the series or have yet to experience The Shadow of the Templars in any form, you'll find this is one conspiracy well worth unravelling.