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Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars - The Director's Cut
Platform: Nintendo DS
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Revolution
Genre: Graphic Adventure
Format: Cartridge
Released: US 03/24/09
Official Site: English Site



Scorecard
Graphics: 90%
Sound: 83%
Gameplay: 85%
Control: 83%
Story: 93%
Overall: 88%
Reviews Grading Scale
 
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Do you have any Grey Poupon?
 
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I knew a broken mirror meant seven years of bad luck, but I didn't think it'd kill a guy.
 
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Ahhh, a good stout at an Irish pub. The cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems.
 
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I hope he's not using the "we'll make beautiful music together" pickup line on that accordion.
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Neal Chandran
Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars - The Director's Cut
04/30/09
Neal Chandran

Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars was originally released for the PC in 1996, but has also been released on the Playstation and the Game Boy Advance. It remains one of my all time favorite graphic adventures. The story is compelling, the characters are memorable, the visuals are stunning, and the challenging puzzles are never needlessly obtuse. It has since evolved into one of the most beloved series in the genre and currently has four main installments: 1996's Shadow of the Templars, 1997's The Smoking Mirror, 2003's The Sleeping Dragon, and 2006's Secrets of the Ark (a.k.a The Angel of Death.) Every Broken Sword game has been good and George Stobbart is an enduring and beloved protagonist among genre fans.

Cut now to 2009 and the new Director's Cut versions of Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars for the DS and Wii. These are not mere ports, but reworked versions of the originals optimized for the DS and Wii hardware. They feature updated character art by Dave Gibbons (The Watchmen) and added playable scenes featuring George Stobbart's companion, the lovely French photojournalist Nicole Collard.

Since I do not own a Wii, I could not verify how well that version of the game played. The Wii's control scheme is made for the genre, but various graphic adventure ports for that platform have been sub par. I did try out the DS version of Broken Sword and unlike the halfhearted DS ports of Myst and Syberia, Broken Sword made a solid transition from PC to DS.

Broken Sword is the debut adventure of George Stobbart, a law student vacationing in Paris. While dining al fresco at a Parisian cafe, he notices a clown walk into the cafe with an accordion, walk back out with a briefcase, then the whole place blows up. George survives the blast by shielding his body with one of the outdoor umbrellas. Being the curious sort, he wants to know what's going on and soon finds himself working with investigative reporter Nicole Collard to uncover the truth behind this crime. What they eventually uncover is a massive conspiracy plot by cult-like followers of the Knights Templar. I know the Knights Templar is currently a trendy "flavor of the month" in storytelling thanks to books like The DaVinci Code or games like Hellgate: London, but Broken Sword came out well before any of that. It was cool before it was cool. Anyway, George's adventure not only takes him all over Paris, but also to other countries such as Spain, Morocco, and Ireland.

The plot itself is a good murder mystery conspiracy with fantastic dialogue and memorable characters. Some of George's internal comments about people and situations are quite amusing, such as, "Regret and remorse are strange emotions. They really bring out the hammiest actors in people." I loved the game's story back in the day and it still remains one of my all-time favorite video game stories. New to this version of Broken Sword are playable scenarios as Nicole interspersed throughout the game. Her story integrates beautifully with George's and feels as if it was always meant to be there. The added content featuring Nicole adds another dimension to an already great story.

The coolness of the game is enhanced by the slick visuals. The main portion of the game looks like its 1996 counterpart with its nicely animated sprites and detailed, prerendered landscapes that look hand drawn. I thought the game looked great then and looks good even now. The environments evoke the je ne sais quois of their real-life counterparts. Making an already great-looking game look even better are the beautifully drawn and animated portraits by celebrated comic book artist Dave Gibbons, who may be best known for his work on graphic novel "The Watchmen." The fully animated intro sequence and cutscenes throughout look fantastic, and the whole package makes me feel as if I have truly stepped into one of those great European cartoon series like The Adventures of Tintin.

Music is not played often in the game, but the classical style music that is present is good. The title theme in particular is excellent and the in-game music adds atmosphere to the various locations. Strings are the dominant instrument of choice for most of the compositions. One major sound component missing in this game is voice acting. The Broken Sword series has always consistently had top-notch voice acting and it sadly could not fit on a DS cartridge. I believe the Wii version has voice clips. Voice acting is a key ingredient to the immersive experience of Broken Sword, and though the game is fine without it, it feels slightly hollow.

The gameplay is tried and true graphic adventure gameplay. Players will thoroughly comb environments, collect sundry items, store them in an inventory, and manipulate them with other items and/or aspects of the environment in creative ways. As with any graphic adventure, Broken Sword requires players to utilize lateral thinking, but the puzzles are never needlessly obtuse and integrate very well with the storyline. This version of the game features an all-new multi-part hint system for those times when a puzzle has players stumped.

The interface has been modified to suit the DS's stylus and touchscreen capabilities. Hotspots are not too difficult to find and once players press one with the stylus, icons appear around the hotspot allowing players to examine, use, or pick up certain items. The interface is not complicated and even comes accompanied by an in-game help mode, but stylus response can sometimes be finicky, especially when manipulating items in the inventory.

Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars - Director's Cut for the DS is a worthwhile purchase for graphic adventure fans. It reaffirms why I held the game in such high esteem years ago and still consider it one of the finest examples of the genre. Dave Gibbons' freshened artwork and Nicole's story only enhance the Broken Sword mythos fans know and love. The Broken Sword fan in me would like to see Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror remade in this fashion as well since that installment is rare these days. Veterans can enjoy the new content, new players can experience one of the genre's best, and everyone's happy.



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© 2009 Ubisoft. All rights reserved.


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