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Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars Review

by: Simon Hill ; edited by: Michael Hartman ; updated: 5/25/2012 • Leave a comment

The Broken Sword series harks back to the days of point and click adventuring. The first in the series was The Shadow of the Templars (aka Circle of Blood) and it takes the player on a comedic adventure across the world in search of an ancient treasure.

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    Overview

    Broken Sword was a series of adventure games featuring 2D graphics and old fashioned point and click game-play. The first in the series was Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars which was released in 1996 and cast the player in the role of George Stobbart, an American tourist in Paris. Teaming up with a photo-journalist called Nico Collard the player had to investigate a series of strange clues to unravel the mystery of a secret conspiracy linked to the Knights Templar. It was released as Circle of Blood in the US and featured some beautifully drawn artwork, mixing in comedic elements with a historically inspired back-story to create a really enjoyable game.

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    Features

    BrokenSword Point and click adventures had all but died out before this release but Broken Sword proved that there was still an audience out there for them. The success of the game relied on some terrific writing and developers Revolution Software really got it right.

    The game opens with George enjoying himself at a café in Paris when a suspicious clown turns up and enters the café. Moments later he leaves and the café blows up drawing the inept police to the scene. George decides to take matters into his own hands and begins to conduct an investigation which leads him into a murky underworld of cults and lost treasures dating back to the time of the Knights Templar.

    The game was a classic point and click adventure with actions selectable via the intuitive interface at the foot of the screen. As George moved around to each location he could explore the back drops by clicking on points of interest in search of clues. He could also engage in conversation with a cast of colourful characters and a large inventory allowed him to examine objects, combine them, question people about them or try to use them on locations in the environment.

    The game-play was simple and very easy to grasp and the various puzzles to solve were mostly just the right level of challenge, stopping short of becoming frustrating. The game was very linear and it undeniably suffered from the usual problems facing point and click adventures. The real selling point was the engaging plot and script which provided a coherent and fascinating story with many chuckles along the way. It took George on an adventure across five countries to varied locations and the large cast of characters really brought the tale to life. The end result had the exotic appeal of a Bond or Indiana Jones adventure but with less action.

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    Graphics

    The richly detailed 2D environments were stunning and extremely well drawn. The realistic settings were very atmospheric with a stylised cartoon look. The characters were similarly well designed and the animations were great providing several moments of comedy. You could explore each location in detail and the backdrop would scroll to allow you to look around. While the game lacked 3D depth, something which they added to later releases in the series, for a 2D game it was very well made with a consistent visual appeal.

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    Sound

    The sound in the game is a vital component and while orchestral music and environmental sound effects added to the general ambience the main bulk of the sound in the game is the huge amount of voiceover work. If you click on an object George will tell you what it is and he narrates the story throughout. His character is a little bland so this may not be to everyone’s tastes. There are also loads of lines of dialogue for each character you meet and it definitely veers towards the cheesy end of the accent pool. Characters of different nationalities all feature what can only be described as comedy accents but they fit the style of the game extremely well and most of the voiceover work is nicely done, certainly above average for a game of this type.

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    System Requirements

    Since this is quite an old game the system requirements are extremely basic, in fact it was recently ported to the Windows Mobile platform. All you need to run the game is a 486 with 66MHz, a measly 8MB of RAM, a VESA 2 compatible SVGA card and a Sound Blaster compatible sound card.

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    Overall

    Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars is a third-person point and click adventure with an enjoyable single player progression which should keep you amused for a few hours. There is no real replay value and typical point and click problems like looping around searching for a clue you missed are evident at times. However if you enjoy the point and click adventure type of game-play then this title is definitely one to look for. Artfully warm, gentle and amusing the range of locations and the unfolding plot points make this a notable addition to the genre and adventure gamers will undoubtedly enjoy it.

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    Screenshots

Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars Guide

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