Monday, 31 May 2010

Broken Sword 2 DS Review

I finally got round to playing this game and it was intriguingly GOOD... Some places were hard, but it was a very enjoyable experience and highly recommended! I love a game with a good story, and this has it!

~~~BOX ART~~~
The box art is quite interesting and does carry some themes related to the game's story, but I think there could definitely be a more interesting and dynamic cover- the tension, anxiety and intrigue experienced in the game does not reflect through the cover, which is a shame, because a cover that does grab attention immediately would've perhaps aided.

Nonetheless, the Broken Sword games have been around for a while so people are NOT going to miss this game. However, as a newbie to the series, I have to say the cover doesn't reflect the magnitude of flavour in the game.

Having never played a Broken Sword game before, I have to say the immediate story grabbed me and got me hooked. Whilst the opening sequence WAS long and I would perhaps have given up on any other game, this got my attention and made me endure just a bit longer. The animations and dynamic expressions of the characters, as well as the short movie sequences also helped make the story more diverse and exciting.

So what is the game about? You start the game playing as Nico, a photo-journalist who gets invited to a wealthy man's home, and of course, he gets killed, and she is immediately enroped in some dark mystery quest. This is a point and click adventure and Nico pretty much starts investigating straight from the opening scene.

Items and people that can be interacted with have a small round bubble on it which you can click on using the stylus to examine or speak to. You can also pick up items and use items on people and objects to trigger the next step. Given the game is pretty linear, you can't progress until you've picked up everything you need and spoken to everyone you need to speak to, which at times can be annoying, but if you are stuck, there is conveniently a hint corner on the top right.

Whilst Nico's story has grabbed me immediately, it isn't Nico that we play as for the rest of the game. Meet George Stobbart, an American tourist who also gets wrapped into the story, when the man Nico is supposed to meet dies in an explosion in the cafe George is sitting at.

This sends George on a round the world mission to uncover the clues to the mystery revolving around the Knight's Templar, whilst Nico does absolutely nothing, sitting at her apartment in Paris- which really annoyed me. The character of George in the whole game is not as developed as Nico's in the first chapter. Apart from his humour and sarcasm, his background is pretty much unknown.

Nonetheless, George's (NOT NICO'S) adventure around the world sends him to different European locations such as Spain, and meeting some outrageous characters, and doing some rather stupid (but clever) things.

One example includes stealing a door key, imprinting on soap, filling it with plaster of paris and making a copy in order to replace the real thing. That's the clever part. The stupid part is to make the key look convincing, George has to paint it. And to do so, he gets Nico to talk dirty to the person keeping the paint hostage. Yes, pretty silly stuff- but very funny!

Which moves me nicely onto dialogue. The whole thing is full of it, and perhaps the hours that I spent on it was mainly reading the text, most of which I skipped (which didn't affect game play at all), although some of it (mainly between Nico and George) are hilarious- so don't skip them!

Interestingly, during conversation, you are sometimes given choices. Do you tell the truth, or lie? Do you agree or disagree? Whilst I am convinced either answer would progress the game in the same way, one instance got George lying to the cafe waitress he is a doctor and forcing a pint down her.

Of course, an "Indiana Jones" type game with such a deep background context has to have it's share of puzzles, and they come mostly during the need to open trapdoors, with mechanical locks that need to be opened through block moving puzzles. Other times, a secret message needs to be deciphered, with a photo jigsaw thrown in as well.

Whilst most the puzzles are fun, some are tedious and you can get stuck quite easily. Thankfully again, there are hints. Most of the puzzles appear at the beginning and the end, leaving the middle part of the story pretty boring at times, although it is also here that most of the silly yet clever events occur.

The story as a whole is intriguing, and the ending is sweet, although short, and for those of you who like a game with a convincing story, this is the game for you!

Control of the game is done solely using the stylus, and hovering around the screen will enable you to see and interact with the points of interest.

The game can be pretty difficult given it's linear story and the somewhat strict order of play. However, given the small inventory, talking to everyone several times over, and using relevant items on them will get you past even the most difficult situation. If you are truly stuck, hit the hints button, which will further your progress.

With the hints, sometimes it is TOO vague; it doesn't tell you much, which occurs during puzzle hints. Other times, during the progression of the story, it is TOO direct. It tells you where to go, what to do, who to speak to; and that frankly spoils the game.

Also, almost every item that you pick up will be useful at some point, so trying everything unused on everything new will almost always work.

The graphics are pretty strong, with dynamic backgrounds, detailed objects and high quality animations. I am rather impressed they got the perspective aspect into the game. It is a small detail, but it annoys me that games that have a movable sprite does not change size in comparison to spacial depth. This game does that, which rather impressed me.

In terms of music and sound, I played most of it without sound as the music doesn't do much at all for the game, even the ending didn't have good sound or music! And the game missed it's mark here by not having a voice over during dialogue, even during movie sequences! Had they done that, this game would've not only been a "game", but a great story, almost movie like.

As a new player to the "Broken Sword" series, I'm highly impressed by the depth of the context to the story, the characters animation and the humour in game. The adventure has been fun and non-repetitive, with the occasional puzzle uplifting and challenging. Whilst I was slightly disappointed with the lack of input from Nico, Stobbart makes up for in the rest of his interactive story. The graphics are good but the music isn't; but a game like this only needs good, clever plotlines and this game has just that.

At under 10 hours game play, this game is pretty short, but the solid and intriguing story; cute and expressive animation; and humous dialogue will make this game hugely enjoyable to most!

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