"Paris in the Fall. The last months of the year and the end of the millennium. The city holds many memories for me; of cafés, or music, of love and of death." - George Stobbart
Here is the beginning of Revolution Software's iconic adventure game series, starting its journey in 1996: Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars. Has it really been 20 years? Wow, now I feel really old. Yet, this is not the original game. This is the director's cut version of the '96 original developed as an adaptation to handhold series, later ported into iOS and Android, eventually getting ported to PC again. Even though, it might be considered a lesser version of the original for many reasons that I will later share in the review, it is a marvelous and memorable adventure game title and a must for everyone who enjoys the genre.
As a major change to the original version, the game begins with Nicole Collard, satirical, ambitious and crafty photo-journalist of La Liberté, making a research about a costume killer whose been targeting various VIPs around the world, instead of our actual protagonist, George Stobbart, an American tourist and lawyer visiting Paris for the sole reason of having a vacation. Whatever the pace of the start would be, they are soon to cross roads as the café George's been visiting at the time blows up, killing Nico's informant and ruining George's vacation. From that point onwards, their interests get intertwined and together, they start a long journey over the globe tracking the killer, following obscure leads from medieval ages signifying a grand conspiracy about Templar Knights and Hashashins.
See, Broken Sword series was dabbling with Templars and Assassins before it was cool! Well, if we are to go back to the story, one heart-breaking change for me was the introduction. The original game starts with George's iconic narrative and café blowing, Nico later showing up as part of the narrative pace. Here in Director's Cut version, Nico is introduced as a playable character with a side story and the game starts with her investigation. I have to say that Nico's side story, even though enjoyable, feels like a sore thumb in the original narrative. You see, that part was never intended to be there to begin with. It slows the pace of the original story by introducing completely unrelated information to the main story. Plus, those parts are presented in a drastically different graphics quality compared to the original game. It just doesn't fit.
The narrative of the game, characters and anecdotal encounters are all marvelously funny and witty with a history buff on the foreground. The game is one of the early examples of humor dominated settings in adventure games. All characters are lovable eccentrics with situational comedy elements. Sadly, I have to note that Director's Cut version actually "cuts" dialogue and animation content from the original game, somewhat downgrading the flow and the atmosphere of the whole story. It is not incredibly noticeable if you haven't played the original first, but it is there.
As for the display quality, I have already stated that there is a clash between the original parts and the newly added story part. Graphics look like hand-drawn, animated cartoons with lovely exaggerations. One other down side of the Director's Cut is that there are truckload of missing character animations. They seem weirdly idle this way. During dialogues, close-ups of characters are added to the top of the screen. The animation style for those are a bit questionable too, if you ask me. Music is just as lovely as always though. The original soundtrack is heavily recommended for your enjoyment.
For the gameplay, it is your quite basic point and click adventure. You collect items, talk to people about on-goings, solve puzzles etc. Here again, I have to note some more distasteful changes that Director's Cut version introduces. Firstly, your pointer shines with a blue circle whenever it is near a point of interest, completely killing investigative expectation of the game. It's like following a series of arrows or a giant plate that says "this way" from the start 'till the end. It is demeaningly simplified. Animations of puzzles - and their total count actually - are changed also. They are downright simple with no downsides to lookout for. One other change that has broken my heart was the newly introduced inability to die. Whatever you do or say, George will prevail now. In the original version, there would be certain choices that could get you killed. Now, George refuses to do said actions to begin with. So long for cause-consequence there.
By the end, can I actually recommend this game? Sure, without skipping a heartbeat. I can only strongly advise for you to play the original version - which can be reached via GOG, rather than this watered down version called as Director's Cut. It is a marvelous little story with memorable characters, an adventurous build and anecdotal history with conspiracy theories. Also a part of computer adventure genre history at this point. It is still as fresh and lovely as the first time around. What else do you need from an adventure game anyhow?
UPDATE: Original version of the game is added to the Steam now, as a downloadable DLC for this Director's Cut version. Enjoy!
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Unlike most games, the most important part of a successful adventure game is the writing. Puzzle design is obviously very important (especially if you've ever ruined a playthrough in a Sierra title), as is the art, sound design, and interface. But nothing can save a poorly-written point-and-click from being miserable to get through. Expertly-written adventures are rare but they do exist, and I would put Broken Sword up among some of the best. It's enough to help carry the game's glacial pacing and tricky puzzles, and more than enough to make for a very gratifying experience.
Nico Collard is a small-time French journalist in Paris who doesn't let her standing stop her from chasing the big stories. Summoned to meet with an esteemed French statesman, she arrives to find him dead and bearing a clue that embroils her in a world-wide conspiracy. This adventure also sweeps up one George Stobbard, an impulsive American fellow committed to helping Nico crack the case after nearly getting blown up at a cafe. Together they unravel an age-old mystery that will be familiar to fans of Assassin's Creed, except with more interesting characters.
That's where the magic lies in this title, in the people. Broken Sword is a much talkier adventure than most, with most of your progression and puzzle solutions found in speaking with the colorful cast. From the hard-nosed police chief to the gravelly flower lady to the brash and suggestive British widow, Paris is full of charming characters to question, joke, and debate with. Nico is sly and quick-witted in her dealings, while George is about as close as we'll ever get to a modern Jimmy Stewart in his jibes. Every person in their quest has some quirk that swiftly endears them to the player, as well. An early favorite of mine was a security guard whom George convinced he was a sewer investigator, and who would offer whatever help he could every time George emerged from the manhole near his building.
To be fair though, the writing and dialogues are not always perfect. It's an aging game in a lot of ways, and a very small number of characters play on stereotypes that are more cringeworthy now than they were then. Not all the jokes land quite as well as they might have twenty years ago, either, but the majority are the timeless type of clever that work best for adventures. The voice acting is more than up to the task of delivering them, but the audio quality itself is conspicuously lacking. And in one more little annoyance, the text boxes that accompany the speech are positioned to cover up the portraits of the characters who are talking.
The net effect is a solid, enjoyable romp that simply feels older than a "director's cut" re-release should, and that extends to the actual puzzles as well. As I mentioned, most of your progress will be made in speaking to characters of interest and gathering clues to the next part of the mystery. Dialogues are easy to navigate with graphical cues, and people give terribly funny responses to unnecessary or inappropriate questions so it's all good. As for items, Broken Sword is one of those old-fashioned types that gives a small number of extremely specific or unusual doodads that often have an obvious use early on, and a much more unexpected one later. This can make the actual puzzles involving hidden tombs or lifting keys more complicated than expected, but limited interaction points and inventory ensure you never get stuck for long.
I'm a big fan of the hand-drawn pixel art style, and though the cutscenes tend to over-animate the characters it's a welcome change from overwrought motion comics that so many adventures (and games in general) use now. Despite the excellent animation it doesn't look great blown up or smoothed over, so prepare to play this one in a tiny window if necessary. Additionally, if you want the fully authentic experience your purchase helpfully includes the original Broken Sword for free. Either way you go with this one you're in for a treat, though, because Nico and George and everyone here are some of the most entertaining folks this side of the old LucasArts games. If you like your adventures character-driven, you definitely owe this one a try.
119 people found this review helpful 2 people found this review funny
3.4 hrs on record
Posted: January 9, 2015
Buy the original rather than this version! Simply put I compared this version with the original version which is available to watch on a YouTube walkthrough, and it seems that more than half of the dialogue is cut out in the "director’s cut". Not only that but many of the interactive options throughout the game are also cut, unless they are directly involved in progressing the games story. I guess the aim was to streamline the game or move the story along more quickly, but by cutting out much of the dialogue and gameplay they have inadvertently cut out most of the charm and humour that I experienced when playing the original game. Would definitely recommend finding the original rather than this version, I brought this as part of a trilogy so just hoping the other two games haven't been butchered as well!
PROS: + great story telling + atmosphere of an adventure + fun puzzles + no clumsy & ugly 3D graphics (like in BS3 & BS4) + good voice acting + most compatibility issues fixed in Remastered version + added background story and new missions for Nicole
CONS: - some puzzles make less sense - the damn goat - hints added by the Remastered version take a bit from the challenge
Comment: I first played this game over a decade ago. I got it along with BS2. The game felt relaxing and I really enjoyed that time. But I never finished it up until now. Why? Because I got stuck at the infamous goat sequence. The Remastered version apart from fixing the compatibility issues the game had also makes the goat sequence better. So yes, this Remastered edition is great. The original is sort of a classic among point&click adventure games. And you can see why. The writing is great, the story interesting and the characters likable. I can see that the game is a bit easier now with the reworked UI and better hints. I played the original version and I see how it takes a bit of the challenge out. But that in my opinion is not a bad thing here. Overall an excellent game which I highly recommend to all fans of the point&click genre. ------------------------------------------------------------------ If you liked this review you can find more on the Curator page or in my Review Corner.
25 people found this review helpful 2 people found this review funny
6.4 hrs on record
Posted: July 7, 2016
Back in 1997 I had just a handful of games installed on my first PC. Broken Sword was one of them and therefor it brings a lot of good childhood memories. For a kid this game is very hard to beat and I remember how when I got stuck and didn't know what to do, I would ride on my bike to the nearest store and open a games magazine to read real quick a walkthrough for the part where I was stuck (no internet back then for me haha). Fun fact: At the time I lived in Germany and the Germans translated the title of this game as "Baphomets Fluch" (Baphomets Curse), which makes sense because of the game's story, but when "Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror" came out, the Germans called it "Baphomets Fluch 2: Die Spiegel der Finsternis", which doesn't make sense since "Baphomets Curse" is not part of the story anymore. It's like imagine the title of the second Indiana Jones movie would be "Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Temple of Doom". http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=710913670http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=723778468
Great old-school point & click adventure game. While graphics and resolution settings migh be outdated, good stories never get old. The Directors Cut gives you bit more content than the original version of the game also the layout is rather good.
There were some issues with the game still like Hintbook being glitched and saving system not saving the actual points but rather close to that. The game offers around ~12h of gameplay, awesome corky dialogue, great story and fun times
Before we get into this let me just say that I love Broken Sword. The original Broken Sword. I have probably completed it more times than I have other games in my library. I especially go back to it now and again to experience its world, its characters and its humour.
So you can imagine my excitement when finding this "Directors Cut" edition on Steam.
Unfortunately I simply could never recommend this version to anyone who wishes to experience Broken Sword and see what all the fuss was about back in the day.
If you really want to play Broken Sword nowadays, there is a "Broken Sword Trilogy" DVD-based package that you can buy on Amazon or EBay (ie. a non-Steam release) and it includes a perfect working version of the actual original Broken Sword and it will work with modern hardware and OS. So go for that.
As for the problems with this version? There are so many to talk about...
- Missing dialogue which affects the humour and even misses vital plot points. - MIssing animations (NPC characters no longer have a talking animation, the flags no longer flutter in the breeze at the Hotel Ubu). - Missing interactions with certain objects throughout the game (such as just about everything in the museum, you can't read the patients medical records in the hospital, you can't read the historical information on the boards at Montfaucon). - Missing cut scenes such as when you first enter the castle in Ireland. - Missing interactions with entire characters in some locations (such as the guy in the middle bed in the hospital). - Sound glitches whereby I heard Lady Piermonts piano playing in other random locations (amongst other problems). - A clear difference in recording quality between the new dialogue and the old dialogue (especially noticeable with a headset). - The additional scenario as Nico offers nothing to the game as a whole and then just abruptly ends and is gone. - Some puzzles have been simplified to a ridiculously simple level (such as the goat puzzle). - The game is now 100% linear - you can't go to Montfaucon before completing the hospital section, for example. - The diary is a pointless addition and the text within it is far too basic - almost childishly written. It also somehow knows vital plot-related information before these elements have been revealed through dialogue.
All in all if you want to rediscover Broken Sword for even play it for the very first time - I simply could never recommend this version of the game. Find a working copy of the original and play that. It's a far superior experience and you won't be missing out on so much material either.
9.2/10 - After 20 Years Still One of the Best Point and Click Masterpieces!
I didn't play this game in 1997; but nearing 2007 it’s still amazing! I was blown away by the length, depth and especially the fully voiced, comedic 12 hour campaign! The help system is pretty extensive and greatly appreciated; with such a fun campaign it's a pity to stop due to getting stuck on something easy.
You take the role of Nico, a French photo-journalist and George a California native that has a habit of getting into trouble. While on Holiday the two meet up in an unlikely circumstance and end up on a journey that spans the globe! Will the pair be able to uncover the treasure or succumb to the countless enemies and perilous obstacles in their way?
Overall, this game has held up amazingly over the years. Definitely worth the $6!
40 people found this review helpful 1 person found this review funny
1.8 hrs on record
Posted: August 27, 2011
I love Broken Sword. It's one of my favorite adventure games of all time – I grew up with it. Hearing about an update to one of my favorite games made me weary but I remained optimistic. Naturally, I tried to like it. But I just can't.
This revision completely butchered the original on so many levels; it's an absolute disgrace. The new story arc doesn't bring anything new or interesting to the table and seems unnecessarily tacked on. It explores a side story that is negligible in the greater context and waters down the impact of the original story's writing and pacing immensely (Never mind the fact that the iconic "Paris in the Fall" intro was cut out of the game for it). The new environments, icons, dialogue portraits and character models look really out of place when displayed right next to their by now 17 year old assets which negatively impacts the cohesiveness: the clashing art styles and different asset qualities make the game feel terribly stitched together. The new UI, automatically displayed points of interaction as well as the help system make the game unbearable for players of the original version.
Revolution went to the extremes with the handholding: everything is pointed out to you and instantly made visible. You never feel taken seriously as a player and it's almost as if the game doesn't want or need your skills to be solved.
Sadly, they took the phrase Directors 'Cut' a bit too literally. Besides the aforementioned intro, Revolution removed details like waving flags, idle and dialogue animations as well as ambient sounds but also integral parts of the game like certain dialogues and entire scenes. The cut narrative aspects in particular break the game's story and writing which was already impaired by the new sidestory. The missing details destroy the charm the original used to have. This content was removed for absolutely no logical reason and is a decision of the developer I can't understand or get behind. Who thought this was a good idea? Cutting parts of your story without replacing them with something more meaningful doesn't do the game's pacing any favors whatsoever.
Regardless whether you experienced the original or not, use ScummVM to play the original release if you can obtain it (Or purchase it via GOG where you will receive both versions with one purchase) and let this abomination rot in the store. You will get a more polished, detailed and cohesive gameplay experience out of it. Who knows what Charles Cecil and Revolution were thinking. But it certainly wasn't anything good.
-- EDIT: Fixed a few typos and revised wording. -- Please note that I previously purchased this version of the game outside of Steam (iOS) and completed it, the playtime recorded by Steam is not indicative of my total experience with the Director's Cut version.
75 people found this review helpful 1 person found this review funny
9.0 hrs on record
Posted: April 28, 2015
Do NOT buy this. This is not what Broken Sword should be like. This director's cut came out in 2009 and has LESS animation than the old 90s version. Less dialogues. Less items. Less riddles. Less cutscenes. Less characters to speak to. More bugs. The added storyline is USELESS and ends suddenly in the middle of the game.
If you want to play Broken Sword, the good one, play the original version not this Broken Sword: Ubisoft Edition.