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Q4 2003



- Story driven game

- Good graphics



- Very linear

- No challenge

- Simplistic gameplay



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Broken Sword 3: The Sleeping Dragon

Score: 7.2 / 10


This is my first exposure to the Broken Sword series of which this game is the third chapter. If this is what I am to expect from the future of the series, and if this what the future of adventure gaming is, I am sorry to say it, but I wish then that the genre would die. Video games have come a long way since the days of Kingís Quest, Space Quest, and all of the other classic Sierra adventure games. Those games had more of an endearing quality to them for whatever reason, but the ideas and the gameplay models of those games are pretty much what we find here in Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon Ė albeit in a much more polished package.


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Back in the day, adventure games were all the rage. Who can forget the wicked hilarity of the Adventures of Willy Beamish or the clever satire of the Space Quest series?  It seems that not much has progressed since those days, if the gameplay model of Broken Sword is to be taken into consideration. It seems that the series has many fans, and all I can really say is that there is no accounting for taste.


The game does have a handy feature for those not familiar with the series as there is a background story that you can peruse.  The story basically continues with a 




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new adventure with the main characters, George and Nico; a lawyer and a reporter from different parts of the world who always seem to get mixed up in trying to save the world.   Although extremely campy, the overall storyline canít really be faulted for trying and for existing to drive the player through the game. However, in this era of gaming, having a story driven game with less than stellar gameplay is usually the reverse of most games, but is no more acceptable than if the reverse were true.



The gameplay mechanics are fairly simple. The game is played from a third person perspective which shows off the crisp graphics nicely.  The gameplay consists of interacting with objects that are highlighted when they can be used in some way, and in talking to people. Objects that are picked up and added to your inventory can also be combined to accomplish other goals. Speaking to people is also a simple affair as there only characters that you can speak to in the given environment that you are playing in.


The game is broken up into chapters that coincide with the area that you are playing in. These chapters are broken up by cut scenes that further the storyline. Getting through each chapter successfully is a simple affair, but can be frustrating for the wrong reasons. Back when the point and click adventure was first becoming popular, gamerís quickly discovered that there was little challenge or fun in walking around environments and clicking on everything that appeared useful or interactive.  Yet entire games could be completed in such a manner.  Broken Sword is one such game. The recipe for completing each level is much the same; click on everything that is highlighted, talk to all of the people in the scenario, and repeat until complete. Occasionally you will encounter a snag where you do not know what to do. Usually, this is because there is a highlighted item that hasnít been tried yet, or someone that you need to return to and talk to some more. 


There will be some puzzles where George or Nico must negotiate certain areas in order to get to a needed location. Again there is very little challenge here as there is little threat of failure or of brain activity. Also, there will be some puzzles with combining inventory items. These puzzles do not require a lot of thought either and at any rate could be overcome through simple trial and error if a gamer became stuck.


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One of the driving elements of an adventure game is the storyline. Broken Sword has numerous dialogue elements that are voice acted in an effort to drive the story. The voice acting here is serviceable and surpasses most other games. One problem that the game has, is in dealing with the order in which a gamer may choose to ask questions. I encountered some occasions where the AI didnít know which response to choose so I was left watching moving mouths with no dialogue.


Broken Sword doesnít leave a whole lot of choice up to the gamer. The game basically plays out as an interactive movie with the little challenge involved. Needless to say, this type of gameplay is hardly challenging, thought provoking, or enjoyable, for most serious gamers.  However, what Broken Sword does do is very polished and offers a slick level of gameplay for the occasional gamer used to solitaire and minesweeper.  Those gamers more used to the rich variety in todayís modern day breakthrough games will likely not seek out the Sleeping Dragon and I cannot recommend that they do.


- Mark Leung

(February 10, 2004)


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