on 21 September 2006
The unique problem with the two modern Broken Sword games is that their very structure is a problem. Sony USA decided early on that the previous game 'The Sleeping Dragon' was simply too old-fashioned for their new, hip market, and as such refused its release in the states.
And starting up 'The Angel of Death', you can fairly easily see what Sony saw as a problem. Controls is clunky and unresponsive, George walks slowly and stoicly as you direct him, clipping and pathfinding problems abound and the graphical transition to 3D still proves to be a slight problem to Charles Cecil's Revolution Studios. The sense of danger in the opening scene is there, but the slow strategy of examining, finding and using items is not condusive to action as a whole. George Stobbart is not an action hero.
And it's when you realise this that the game as it is meant to be clicks into gear. Everything that George comes across that is of any importance can be scrutinised, and the vocal work is of the highest standard. Seemingly impossible situations can be thought through and played at a leisurely pace, and the fully interactive nature of the scenes makes this an enjoyable experience.
Characters are, as usual, varied and interesting, and the almost accidental part that they play in George's life makes them all the better. The simple depth of the people you meet comes together to produce the feel of a very deep and real world, and as the game progresses this is what makes it feel like such a seminal experience. You feel like your actions have meaning, as the already fantastic narrative is bolstered by the inclusion of these minor people who add the fringe of humour and purpose. The self-referential nature of the game is also a plus in this regard: having George confuse Anna-Maria with Nico Collard is a genuine masterstroke, and a nod to the fans who have been with the series for over ten years.
What else is there to say? If you're a fan as I am, this is the game you wanted it to be. The transition to 3D does work, and although nothing will ever be as memorably lush as the first Broken Sword game, the fashion of fantastic narrative and memorable characters is carried on here and polished. A great story, a great experience, and a fantastic addition to the series.
on 16 February 2007
I love Broken Sword but was disappointed with the third one but eagerly awaited the fourth anyway in the hope it would be better. But I found it more tedious than the third.
Apart from having to practically buy a new computer to play the damn thing, all the tasks and puzzles in the game seemed pointless and unrealistic.
I am disappointed to see the dry humour, which is what I really loved about Broken Swords 1 and 2, was completely non-existant in the Angel of Death.
The 3D graphics are brilliant but, like a reviewer before me, I am not happy about walking around not really knowing where to go or what to do unlike in previous BS's where you were kinda nudged in the right direction!
And I agree with other reviewers that the ending was just not worth all my hard work! I'm still not sure what happened!
Overall, it was an OK game, I would play it again, maybe, one day, but there was no way I could play it without a walkthrough. It definitely isn't as re-playable as Broken Swords 1 and 2 which if I've played them once, I must have played them 20+ times!! (and haven't got bored of them yet!)
Oh yeah - and what's with all the computer-hacking?? Got a bit repetitive for me!
on 25 June 2007
I loved this game and was rather disturbed by some of the comments by the other reviewers... I will admit the gripes that I did have with this game and then I will go on to say the good points.
The bad things about the game were the music and the voices. The music in BS1 and 2 were scored by a classical composer named Barrington Pheloung. He is most famous for scoring the music for the Inspector Morse TV series, and he created some wonderful music. Unfortunately, he is not present and the music is lacking somewhat especially with the fact that short tunes seem to get played randomly just to keep you going through a new scene rather than adding to the atmosphere. Secondly, although, it is great that Rolf Saxon reprised his role as the laconic George Stobbart from Idaho, I was quite disappointed in the voice actor for Nico, and slightly dismayed that all the other characters did not seem quite as alive as George, as I assume that all the other voice actors haven't worked on Broken Sword before.
Now the good points! I enjoyed every minute of this game, including those times I had to pull out my hair to get my circulation to my brain going, as it reminded me of all the great times I had had with BS1 and 2, and I thought how nice it was that there was another point-and-click on the market. The puzzles were clever as always and induced the appropriate satisfaction you get from solving it. They weren't too easy or too hard and the learning curve for them was just right. The story was fascinating, once again. Maybe the developers could have put more effort into the research a bit more as there is much history they could have incorporated, but it was enough. I did like the "action" elements which I presume were a leftover from the previous instalment of Broken Sword released for consoles (did not like that one) and they were also quite satisfying to do to.
Yes, the characters have no intelligence and will walk directly into walls when you click somewhere, but that's the point of point-and-clicks as you are supposed to be the intelligence for the character you control. Yes, there are loading times, but in my history of playing games, I have never found any decent game not to have loading times, and any true Broken Sword fan would not mind, because loading times have existed ever since the first adventure games were released!
The whole reason for point-and-clicks is to use your head and to have patience. If you want mindless explosions and quick action then this is not the game for you and I expect you would not be interested in any way. But for those who used to love these types of games, it is a welcome blast of fresh air to be able to return to something familiar.
on 22 December 2006
Any fan of the Broken Sword titles obviously knows their stuff with adventure games, it follows in the footsteps of such greats as Monkey Island. However, the story in Angel of Death seems to lack any kind of coherence, with some puzzles being spectacularly illogical. Similarly, there's no motivation to make you want to play the game. Compared to the first games when something interesting actually happens at the beginning, to now, when a woman simply turns up at your door and asks you to decode a manuscript. Oh. Great. Not to mention of course that the interface is pain-stakingly annoying (ie trying to click on a tiny object while the screen continues to move), making any action in the game extremely tiresome. In future the makers should return to the quick, bright, fun and imaginative cartoon style game that made Broken Sword a great like its predecessors.
on 26 September 2006
George Stobbart is back, with a new adventure that takes him around the world to, well...save the world..again.
New characters to talk to and pick their brains for clues to the next puzzle.
The change from 2D(Broken Sword 1+2) to 3D(Broken Sword:The Sleeping Dragon and this one) has not been particulaly smooth. Most of the time you will forgive the slightly odd camara angles and the lack of control of the characters, because the script and voice acting is a cut above anything else ever produced in a video game. Particular mention must go to Rolf Saxon who voices George, his delivery is amusing and charming.
To make your way through this game you have to solve some involving puzzles, jump over walls, hack computer terminals and sneak past guards. The great thing about this is if you fail first time, you don't get a large 'Game Over' screen appear, you just try again with a different approach. Overall this game is a bit clumsey with game play, but is very funny and makes you use your brain.
on 26 November 2007
I wanted to love this game. I LOVED BS1 and 2. I have played them so many times over the years and they never get old. BS3 was more disappointing, all those box puzzles and sneaking around. If adventure games wanted sneaking around, wouldn't we go and buy lara croft or something?
I had hopes for BS4, especially because I naively believed the developers would listen to the fans after 3, but this is the worst. That Anna Maria I could strangle, the game is far too dark, the story is under-developed, the locations are few, didn't like the PDA was (done better in moments of silence), no one except George (naturally, there'd be uproar) has their original voice actor and the ending... dear god it was awful!! I could cry.
Now I hear tell there will be a movie. They are going to have to tread vvvvvvvveeerrry carefully with this one. I think sometimes, that the movie makers should just leave some things alone y'know?
on 13 October 2006
This game looks very good, and there's the same quality voice acting as the other titles. There's a great storyline, which kept me hooked throughout the game and drove me to keep solving the next puzzle. My two gripes are that there is a relatively short game span and...
(MINOR SPOILER AHEAD!!!)
Well, it's that the end sequence is practically non-existent? We want to know what happens next after all that! Ultimately it's not a bad game, but if only there was more to it.
on 25 February 2007
Like other reviewers - I am a fan of the Broken Sword series.
If you play the first one (Shadow of the Templars) you'll be hooked.
I was so looking forward to this one - and once installed I couldn't stop playing. The story captivated me and I simply had to know what happened next.
The humour was as sharp as ever - the graphics were reasonable.
Some of the characters were good enough to warrant a game of their own.
(If you've played - I think you'll know who I mean! A lovable down and out...:-)
The puzzles were logical and not too obscure - but challenging enough.
However - there was something missing.
Something less satisfying than it should have been.
The ending was certainly abrupt and far too short.
Also - the promise of the introductory scene comes to naught in the end.
It hinted at a much more dramatic storyline.
The dialogue - which is essential at times - is a little long.
I did enjoy it - and replayed it as soon as I had finished.
It's not one I'll be in a hurry to replay again soon, though.
on 17 July 2010
When I first bought this, four years ago, my laptop could only run it on jerky, low-res settings. No problem, I thought, I'll wait a couple of years as I'll be making my own PC soon and try it then.
Now I've built a top-notch PC that runs Mass Effect 2 on its highest settings. But can it play BS4? Pfft.
It *can* but the characters just become black shadows. This is because I have a multi-core PC and anything more than one core in your box makes the textures go bye-bye.
Not to worry, I say, you can use Imagecfg to assign a core affinity to the .exe file so it will always run on just one core. Now, for no apparent reason, it won't start and returning the settings back to all four cores doesn't change that.
One reinstall later and the next option is to set the affinity to one core by using Task Manager while the program is running the main menu for the game, then load up a game.
Nope, doesn't make any difference.
The final option (which DOES work - to a degree) is to effectively cripple my PC by telling it to reboot using just one core. This means I won't be able to do anything that puts a strain on the processor while in this mode.
Result? I intend to rush through it using strategy guides in the space of a week so I at least can experience the story, then wake up the other three cores and never touch it again.
Except even that isn't easy, because now the change in core settings for SOME reason (God only knows what) means it crashes if I run it on anything other than the lowest resolution.
Up yours THQ, up yours.
I'm sure there's *some* PC out there it works okay on - it's the one the devs were using. If they could just put those specs on the internet, I'll ebay this to anyone with those specifications. To anyone else, it's not worth the hassle - just look on YouTube for the cutscenes.
...but when it's bad, you've just turned off the computer.
I so much wanted to not merely like, but deeply love this game. The last one, the Sleeping Dragon, showed a lot of promise going into the world of 3D. But there are so many missed opportunities here that I feel ol' Charles Cecil should have rested on his laurels, as the game doesn't add anything that's new to the genre - and in order for this series and the adventure genre to survive, each Broken Sword instalment must be utterly brilliant, as the first truly was.
Is this asking too much from a first time team? Yes, I think it is. It took several games before Revolution got it down pat and then they proceeded to give LucasArts and Sierra some sleepless nights. There is virtually no high-end competition now for the point 'n' click, and there are enough missed opportunities in this game to understand why.
First, the script is vague and meandering in the second half of the story. People (especially Nico), popped up at "convenient" moments - this is really just lazy scripting. Secondly, the tools/inventory at George's disposal. The PDA could have been the best thing to have happened to the Broken Sword series. Why? Because of Gabriel Knight and SIDNEY. For those of you who are going "pardon?", there was another computer game adventure series involving a charasmatic - albeit reluctant - hero in the form of Gabriel Knight and his series was with Sierra On-Line. In the last one, "Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned", SIDNEY was a neat-o computer system that had an honest-to-God encyclopedia. In the game, you could type in random subjects from Atlantis to Jesus and that got you a full-screen reference. To me, it was (and still is) the most coolest thing I've seen in an adventure game. My point here is that there are not enough references around the major puzzles involving documents in BS4, so you never feel that you are doing some proper "legwork". Yes, you're travelling around to and fro, but you're not researching something to the nth degree - see how long George spent on the one medieval document in BS1 and how long he spent in a museum. Instead, you have flashes of text (after you hack through a computer system in a neat mini-game), read some samples according to some hyperlinks, and off you go. It doesn't feel like you have complete control over George's choices in this adventure. Thirdly, the main character, George, doesn't show enough passion about the subject itself until late in the day. And fourth, the ending is abysmal.
Sorry, it's all been a bit of a downer so far, so I'll lift the spirits by saying that the writing for the dialogue is supurb (although the delivery from Nico sounds like from someone who lives in America and has been described how the French speak), the setpieces are large, there is never any "pixel-searching" for clues and getting a nun flustered about her machinery was deeply funny. Flashes of brilliance crop up, but they're not enough to give the game the polish needed to gloss over the mistakes.
It just seems a shame that in this day of high technology and Cecil's past history, we'll just have to wait for another opportunity to enjoy Broken Sword to it's full potential.