Wii

North America

Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars: Director's Cut

by Carmine Red - April 27, 2009, 5:38 pm PDT
Total comments: 4

7

This Director's Cut treads a thin line in preserving the original's gameplay and art style while at the same time adding new puzzles, story, and content to genuinely improve the experience.

To call this game a port, or even a remake, of a 1996 classic adventure game doesn't quite capture what Revolution Software has accomplished with Broken Sword. As the cover clearly states, this is a Director's Cut. This means that the original art, gameplay, and story have been preserved despite the passing of thirteen years. Broken Sword for the Wii also contains new content, story, and puzzles. Both old and new, Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars Director's Cut is a definitive version of a classic more than anything else.

Of course, a classic point-and-click adventure game means it is full of classic point-and-clicking. Players use an on-screen cursor to move characters around, solve puzzles, and interact with objects. These simple (and therefore accessible) controls translate easily to the Wii Remote pointer, and only the A and B Buttons are heavily used. The Wii controls also work great when waving the pointer around and exploring the entirety of the screen to find puzzles and objects to examine—a necessary habit when working through some of the game's puzzles and challenges.

In this sense, Broken Sword honestly proclaims itself as a game from a bygone era of point-and-click adventure gaming. Its puzzle and exploration elements, which required players to think through what they needed to solve and who they needed to talk to, were enough to garner a following in 1996, and these elements still hold up today. On the other hand, like most classic adventure games, it rarely conveys a sense of immediacy and action, and it's possible to get stuck in a puzzle for a long stretch of time before uncovering the item or action that pushes the story forward.

This is one of the area's where the Wii game's improvements really come into play. Players have the option of accessing a hint system at almost any moment, which means the days of getting stuck at a puzzle for hours before looking up the solution in a guide are over. If you ever need help on what to do next, the game can gently guide you with relevant hints that start out subtle but can get more specific if necessary. Those who wish to tackle the game completely on their own can simply keep the hint system off, though some of the game's more obscure solutions are especially challenging in that they require a burst of lateral thinking, or a lot of experimental trial and error.

Another extremely worthwhile addition to the game is new playable sections of story and new puzzles to accompany them. These new sections put players in the shoes of the game's female lead, Nicole Collard, for the first time, casting a whole new light on the story. Far more serious than plucky male lead George Stobbart, Nicole's sections help to both preface and contextualize the conspiracy surrounding the mystery of the ancient Knights Templar. The new sections also present Nicole in far more active light than the original game, where she was unavailable for play and remained cold and aloof most of the time, in her apartment doing "research." These additions meld together very well with the game's original segments, and in fact it's hard to picture Broken Sword without them. They also help to push the game's length to a respectable 10 to 12 hours.

One aspect of the game where the developers opted to make no drastic changes were the graphics. To be fair, Broken Sword has some new art, but much of the game stays as faithful as possible to the hand-drawn style of the original 1996 release. As a result, the game's visuals are inescapably dated, for better or for worse. Astute fans can relish in stylized Western 2D background and character art that's almost impossible to find in modern games, and some of the game's visuals do seem to recall those of classic animated film maker Don Bluth (An American Tail, Anastasia). However, at many other points in the game (Ireland, especially) the character design and animation falls much closer to the realm of commonplace Saturday morning cartoons.

Another element from the original game that has been preserved is Broken Sword's voice acting. All of the dialogue in the game is voice-acted, and much of the observation and narration is also given voice. And where the developers have added gameplay or chosen to edit old dialogue, new speech has been recorded. This does wonders for playing through the game, and it's an immense help in identifying with George and Nicole. The performances do sometimes teeter over the edge, with stereotypical interpretations for certain side characters, but even these lesser instances are performed confidently. Strangely, a few of the voice samples differ significantly in quality and seem to play at a louder volume, or with a slight echo.

Another thing that must be mentioned is the existence of one or two game-stopping bugs that may occur when speaking to certain characters at certain parts of the story. These don't crash the game, but they prevent you from doing anything other than opening up the Wii's home menu, resetting the title, and continuing from your last save with a knowledge of what to avoid. Unfortunately, the game does not have an auto-save system, so it's possible to lose significant progress if you run into one of these bugs.

In the end though, there are reasons, new and old, for both adventure fans and newcomers to the genre to enjoy Broken Sword. The game isn't ashamed of displaying its roots, whether they are in the form of point-and-click gameplay or 90's animation. And as its characters unearth the early medieval mysteries of the Templars, Wii owners who play Broken Sword are likewise challenged with reliving a genuine adventure game, circa late 20th century.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
6.5 7.5 7.5 8 6.5 7
Graphics
6.5

Broken Sword should be commended for preserving a lot of its original hand-drawn art and animation, even though this results in low graphical fidelity. It's a testament to the style that some of the art still holds up after all these years, but there are also examples of the exact opposite outcome.

Sound
7.5

Voice acting does much to increase the game's appeal, though some of the quality is askew and some character portrayals are decidedly stereotypical. The game's soundtrack is both subdued and mysterious, but limited.

Control
7.5

The controls are simple and work well with the Wii Remote. The tilt functionality in specific puzzles works but is not as smooth as it could be. A second player can control a pointer on the screen, but this is mostly cosmetic as only one player has control at any time.

Gameplay
8

Broken Sword features the adventure and puzzle gameplay that made it a classic, as well as brand new puzzles. The addition of a hint system goes far in reducing the frustration that the genre is capable of inducing.

Lastability
6.5

At 12 hours long, give or take, Broken Sword will last more than a few play sessions. But aside from reliving the story, there's no real incentive to replay the game.

Final
7

The definitive version of a classic, Broken Sword for the Wii is definitely well-suited for adventure game fans. However, Broken Sword's faithfulness to its original graphics, gameplay, and style could present a challenge to anyone not ready for a little bit of history.

Summary

Pros
  • A hint system to alleviate the frustration of getting stuck in puzzles
  • New playable segments that meld with the original experience and improve the story
  • The game's original art and animation has been lovingly preserved
  • Voice acting that keeps the game interesting and enjoyable
Cons
  • A couple of bugs that force the player to reset
  • Sometimes the game's original art and animation comes off as dated
  • Some voice samples have inconsistent quality
  • The story's climax doesn't play out quite as excitingly as the rest of the game
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

LuigiHannApril 28, 2009

Were the new character close-up animations they made for this remake exclusive to the DS version?

Actually, the Wii version has more or less static character portraits when interacting with NPCs. I think the DS version also has these character portraits, yet presented slightly differently due to the screen factor (look forward to the upcoming DS review from Pap64!)

I believe these are new, but they're not extensively animated so I don't consider them a deal breaker in any sense.

ShyGuyApril 29, 2009

I'm leaning towards the DS version right now.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterApril 29, 2009

Quote from: ShyGuy

I'm leaning towards the DS version right now.

Both versions are essentially the same thing. You aren't missing much if you choose one version over the other.

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Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars: Director's Cut Box Art

Genre Adventure
Developer Revolution Software
Players1

Worldwide Releases

na: Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars: Director's Cut
Release Mar 24, 2009
PublisherUbisoft
RatingTeen
eu: Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars: Director's Cut
Release Mar 26, 2009
PublisherUbisoft
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