Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars

Friends, Templars and American patent lawyers, lend me your fingers! I bring you the very latest in gaming technology – the point and tap adventure! Okay so releasing a game for iPhone and iPod touch isn’t exactly something new, but in this case there is a very genuine reason to celebrate – make way for the almighty, freshly rejuvenated, mind boggling piece of genius that is Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars. And it’s a director’s cut too. Oooh!

Those of you that remember the original release some 14 years ago will be thankful that the series has received yet another technological revamp; I remember how happy I was when they released a new CD-ROM compatible with Windows XP, imagine my delight now! As a result this could be the easiest review I’ve done yet, consisting of several paragraphs of gushing on why this game is so good that it’s actually worth buying an iPhone for. However my inner Nico will attempt to refrain from such obvious favouritism as a directors cut means new scenes, new puzzles, and a new format to play it on – there’s reviewing to be done!

The game centers on George Stobbart, an American vacationing in Paris who witnesses a bizarre murder involving a clown and an exploding accordion; not your average Calais booze run I can assure you! While trying to work out the mystery of the crime he meets French journalist Nico Collard, and together the duo must unravel the story behind a series of murders and their link to the Knights Templar, an order of powerful men thought to have been wiped out in the 14th Century. The game runs as a traditional point and click adventure, your progress reliant on finding clues and solving unusual puzzles in each location.

Being a relative noob in the handheld Apple world, only having owned my iPod since Christmas, the ability to surprise me with its potential isn’t exactly hard; that will probably come in fifty Apps time. Being an interactive device, much like the Nintendo DS, it was no surprise that a game like Broken Sword would eventually appear in its games library; coincidentally both the DS and Nintendo Wii have played host to this version of the game for nearly a year. The transition from mouse to fingertip is an obvious progression (why involve a middleman?) and it certainly breathes new life into a game series that fans have been unwilling to let go of for some time. This is helped along by the newly inserted scenes which focus on Nico’s story and personal interest in uncovering the plot behind the costume killer, although they sometimes feel forced rather than flowing with the original content of the game.

My biggest concern when getting my hands on this baby (literally) was how well it would transfer to such a small screen. A lot of attention has been put into making sure that nothing has been ‘lost’ graphically; but let’s face it when you’re talking about a game that ran on only 8MB of ram, you haven’t got much to worry about! The pixelated graphics of the original were never enough to distract from the addictive game play, enthralling environments, or the often bizarre solutions to the puzzles it offered.

This version of the game surprisingly retains the ability to draw you in, and when stuck on any given puzzle, can certainly leave you wondering where time has gone – don’t play this on the bus people, you will travel to the end of the line! However, being condensed down onto a small screen does have its flaws as even with the points of interest icons blinking at you, it can sometimes be hard to not just see, but also select exactly what you should be doing. Newcomers to the series especially will find this a hindrance; although I remembered solutions for the majority of puzzles throughout the game, even I struggled to get George to solve them without pressing on other nearby selectables instead!

My natural conclusion is to assume that original DS users would have found the interaction with the game less of a struggle with the fine pointed stylus; a design flaw that feels as if it was overlooked for transfer to iPhone and iPod, making even the most dexterous user feel all fingers and thumbs!

Regardless of this, Broken Sword is a fantastically enthralling game, and despite the sometimes frustrating controls still provides hours worth of humorous game play with brain scratching puzzles. Those of you who like a quick run opposed to a jog will be pleased with the hint system that happily guides you along like your very own google walk-through, ensuring the most impatient person can enjoy the game rather than spend hours walking and talking to eclectic Parisians!







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