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03/24/09 Ubisoft
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03/20/09 Ubisoft

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Review: Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars - The Director's Cut

By Louie 13th May 2009 | 1,882 views 

This remake of a 13-year-old adventure classic is definitely worth a purchase if you like point-and-click games

When writing a review, most video game journalists focus on factors like graphics and sound, cinematic presentation, and the length of a game. This surely is a valid approach, but even among the highest rated games of each generation there are only a few true gems that stand the test of time. Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars is such a game. It's mouldy and not without certain weaknesses, but still a great experience for those who love point-and-click adventures.

The game starts with French journalist Nico Collard witnessing the murder of a famous politician.The murderer, a curious guy dressed as a clown, sparks her interest and she starts to do some detective work on her own. Soon, she gets to know George Stobbart (an American tourist who witnessed another murder) and they decide to work together. What starts as some sort of illegal private detective work (Nico steals some pieces of evidence, among other things) soon becomes an interesting adventure covering worldwide events.

The game itself is presented as a traditional point-and-click adventure; the Wii remote is used as a pointer. When the pointer touches a useable object, it changes to a gearwheel, allowing the player to analyze an item or area more closely by pushing the A button (or it changes to a hand to indicate that you can pick up an item). In this situation the game will often switch into one of the (newly added) close-up views in which you can do some detective work like scanning a desk or a cupboard, move objects around and more. Pressing A and B buttons explain the objects in front of you and indicate what you could use them for. The Wiimote itself is used in a number of ways: When you try to crack up a safe you can turn it from left to right to make the combination lock move and the Wiimote speaker clicks when you found the right combination. The Wiimote is also used to slide blocks (in some kind of 2D minigame) or you can use it to combine pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.

Often you’ll have to use collected items like barrettes or bullet casings to activate certain mechanisms or combine your items with the usable inventory to proceed. For instance: A stone statue may not be too useful to copy an engraving but rolling it in painting colour and then on a piece of paper makes it a perfect copy machine. And while some of the puzzles in the game are rather hard to understand if you haven’t played many point-and-click adventures, the inclusion of a hint system makes up for it: the player can decide how many hints he needs to solve the puzzles, which makes the game way less frustrating. The use of the Wiimote is not groundbreaking but not too shabby either and all in all nicely implemented.

Dialogues are a big part of the game as well. You'll often talk to all kinds of people, get hints from them or show them your collected items to get further indication of what to do next. During a dialogue you can chose between different topics or chose items from a menu.

The game also features a very interesting art style: everything is drawn in a distinctive cartoon style, like some of the best animated TV shows. The cut scenes are also done in this style, which makes the overall game look really nice.  It isn’t a technically impressive game, especially as the quality of scenes changes from time to time: the new scenes added for this version are more crisp, while the ones seen in the original game are rather blurry. Overall the art style fits the game very well and improves the atmosphere a lot.

The sound is a bit of a mixed bag. The background music is rather inconspicuous for the most time, but it doesn't distract you from using your head. A really annoying thing is the unsteady quality of voice acting: It appears that Ubisoft used some new and some old audio tracks for the director’s cut. Listening to two characters having a conversation can become confusing when the sound quality changes from extremely good to bad-radio-quality within seconds. The actors themselves do a great job, though. Each of the characters in the game has their own voice, accent and feel. Some conversations can become tedious, though, especially when you're looking for a hint or a particular person and people tell you endlessly about their private lives.

One of the biggest selling points for this game is certainly the story. There are no spoilers in this review, but let me tell you: even though the story feels a bit clichéd at times, and the scope was too huge to feel completely realistic to me, it has a charm of its own. You won’t only find out about the murders, but also about Nico’s private life and more.

Also worth mentioning: the characters in the game. Modern games often feature heavily-clichéd, brawny war machines wearing huge weapons that kill everything in their way. So in some sense, Broken Sword is a very welcome exception to the rule: The characters are well-thought-out, likeable and often interesting as well. Sure, you’ll see a lot of clichés here, too, but that's part of the charm.  The game doesn’t try to sound super-realistic --it knows very well that it's being completely over-the-top with stereotypes, and runs with it to fun effect. For instance at one point in the game you'll meet an old english lady and you'll need her assistance. Not only does the lady speak a perfect british accent she also fullfills most of the typical british stereotypes - and uses them to help you with your task.

Of course, the game has its weaknesses. The lengthy dialogues and the sound quality have already been mentioned. Another one is the replay value: once you’ve finished the game (which is going to last you about 10-15 hours) you’ve seen everything and there is no reason for you to come back. And then there is the fact that the game itself is often showing its age, especially the menus and (for today’s standards) some of the puzzles. On the other hand, some of the backgrounds have been reworked; there are new cut scenes and some additional in-game scenes as well (the opening chapter starring Nico for instance).   

Finally, it comes down to your personal preferences: Do you like good stories and adventure games? If so, Broken Sword might be your game of choice. If you prefer games with a focus on presentation and graphics, you'd better skip this one. But for those who haven’t played the original game (or haven't played it in 13 years) and are looking for a unique experience on their Wii console,  Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars could still be an interesting insider tip for the slow summer months.

VGChartz Verdict


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Sales History

Total Sales
1 n/a n/a 3,481 3,481
2 n/a 5,264 4,274 1,625 11,163
3 n/a 3,380 3,747 1,206 8,333
4 n/a 2,074 3,406 920 6,400
5 n/a 1,394 2,707 687 4,788
6 n/a 1,124 2,163 550 3,837
7 n/a 988 2,112 518 3,618
8 n/a 890 1,825 454 3,169
9 n/a 764 1,443 370 2,577
10 n/a 786 1,616 402 2,804

Opinion (24)

valen200 posted 07/04/2010, 09:34
I beat it yesterday. I sorta feel sad to finally complete it, because now I know the story and adventure games don't really have much replay value. I will need to track down the sequels now.
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hankakacjd posted 30/03/2010, 06:19
I originally bought the wii version, and recently bought the ds version brand-new for five pound on game
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valen200 posted 27/03/2010, 05:15
I had the GBA version, but this one is much more interesting. The other version was not bad, just a bit more constrained.
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JEMC posted 22/03/2010, 08:16
I've been lucky enough to get it for 12€ (brand new). Not a bad purchase. Oh, and that puzzle near the end made me sweat! That was hard.
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elzumo posted 06/12/2009, 10:53
Glad to see sales pick up a bit. I agree with famousringo too, it should have been $30 from the get-go.
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famousringo posted 02/11/2009, 09:12
Bought it for $30 and enjoyed it, but I'm glad I didn't pay a full $50 for it.
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