Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon review
How Many Adventures Can One Patent Lawyer Have?


One of our greatest fears is change. As humans, we crave stability and consistency, and hate having normality altered. It's for this reason I was disturbed to learn that Revolution had chosen to redevelop the engine for Broken Sword into a 3rd person adventure, rather than the point and click system we'd been used to in the previous two games.

Now it's released and I've played through, the question remains - did it work? The answer is yes, it actually turned out pretty successful. The new 3d environments provide a greater immersion in the story and locales than never before, and gone are the cartoon-type animations, replaced with quite realistic looking animation that keeps the story down to Earth for most of the adventure. Old faces return and a lot of new characters along the way, all fully voiced I might add.

Rolf Saxon returns as the voice of George, although I didn't recognise any other voices, despite the characters being from previous games. The voices behind them might have been the same actors as before, but to me, they all, apart from George/Rolf, sounded like impersonators doing their best to sound like the predecessors. This was a bit of a letdown for me.

The story centres around a scientist in the Congo that has developed a source of natural power and wants George to patent his machine. At the same time on the other side of the world, Nico's called to interview a computer expert in Paris about work he's doing at the moment that he believes puts his life in danger. Unfortunately she arrives too late to find an impersonator has murdered the man and has to investigate.

Controlling the returning George Stobbart, an Idaho patent lawyer whose adventures take him to the far ends of the world, is in short, substantially difficult at first when you try it out. The camera views often make it difficult to negotiate George - when the view changes in a scene, so do the controls. Where you could be pressing Down to go along a corridor, a view change could mean you'll have to switch to Up to continue along the same corridor. It's confusing to read but it makes sense once you play. And don't worry, it doesn't pull the game down at all, it simply puts the initial learning curve up higher than it should be. There's also new things like hotspots in your environment which you cycle through to get George to look at them, eg a door, window, book, item on the floor. A tutorial level might have been a good idea for a brand new engine midway through an adventure series to get fans clued up on how to play properly, but unfortunately Revolution didn't include one and it led to me being delayed by the first puzzle for about an hour because I didn't know how to use the new hotspot function and navigate to different ones.

It also sounded like Revolution did their own musical score for the third game. Gone is Barrington Pheloung's familiar Broken Sword theme, replaced with orchestral scores of Revolution's own making - I didn't see Barrington credited anywhere in the end credits, which I thought was another bad move and alienation of fans of the series, although in hindsight, Revolution's own musical score does work pretty well.

Character animations are a little lacking unfortunately. George retains the same facial expression for most of the story even at sad or emotional moments, which detracts from emotional attachment to characters or immersion in the story. The character appearances on the other hand are flawless. An example is George's friend Nico, a French girl, who has been totally redesigned for the third game in glorious 3d right down to round breasts and a tight ass you want to grab. I saw no trace of polygon modelling on any characters I met - all are completely free of jagged edges that come with using polygons and look ace.

A refreshing twist on the series comes with Revolution's decision to allow the player to control George or Nico at select points of the story and use this feature to tell two seperate stories that later intertwine. George can also team up with Nico later and use her help to accomplish certain tasks, such as getting her to hold a button to keep a door open so he can go in and out.

Puzzles and the logic required to complete them haven't changed in the new game which is a good thing. George's adventures are still hindered by murderers, locked doors, crazy machines, guards and keys, all features of previous adventures. The new engine allows for new Tomb Raider themed puzzles like pulling/pushing blocks, which are logic puzzles like the others, rather than endurance/stamina/timing efforts like Tomb Raider.

Lifespan wise, the game's about the same length as the other games in the series and doesn't really have replay value because you're only really going to play through once to hear the story and then shelve it, but that comes with most adventure games and shouldn't and doesn't affect the final score.

Let down by what is at times a difficult control system, coupled with some dodgy character animation in some places, gets Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon, a 4.2 out of 5. A must have if you've played and enjoyed the previous two games and highly recommended if you like adventure games.

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