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Final Thoughts 05
Broken Sword III: The Sleeping Dragon
Note: This is not a review, but merely my musings after having recently
completed a game as part of my Rogue's Adventures playthrough of my
backlog. Follow @RoguesAdventure to keep up with my playthroughs.
Also Note: This was originally written (and game was completed) in January 2013.
Developer: Revolution Software
Date: November 17, 2003
The third game released in the Broken Sword series, The
Sleeping Dragon reunited protagonists George Stobbart and Nico Collard in
another international adventure of mystery, secret cults, ancient devices, and
ultimately a world saving conclusion.
The Sleeping Dragon was released on Xbox and Playstation 2
as well as PC, and it's console control scheme shows through in the worst way
possible. The familiar Point and Click interface of its predecessors was
abandoned in favor of a fully 3D world to explore. Nearby objects and people are highlighted as
hotspots, which you can then choose to Interact With or Look At. Thus a good
chunk of time is spent wondering around the largely empty 3D spaces looking for
the few points of interest. The mouse isn't even used; the arrow keys move
either George or Nico, while WASD is used for interacting with the hotspots. In
short, it's god-awful.
other classic sin the game commits is one of the worst cameras I've ever
experienced. Instead of hugging behind your character, the camera sticks in one
spot of a scene, typically giving you a bird's eye view of the surroundings.
This works until you start moving around, as there can be a dozen different
camera spots in one particular spot, and it is the pinnacle of frustration
trying to move around while your entire world view is being constantly whipped
around and reoriented. Especially fun during the game's frequent stealth
sequences in the end of the game, where a quick camera change can quite
literally kill you.
Thankfully, the game itself wasn't the slog that the camera
and controls would lead you to believe. The actual writing and storyline is
incredibly well done, beginning with George and Nico on seemingly separate
adventures until their stories intertwine. The plot involves a new evil leader
of the Neo Templar group from the first Broken Sword game attempting to tap
into the Earth's natural geomantic energy lines, called ley lines or Dragon
lines. Chasing after Susarro, or in some cases beating him to the punch in his
quest to gain power leads the pair from the Congo to Egypt to Prague, and even
to familiar locations in the Broken Sword series, like Montfaucon square where
the Templar Church resides. The developers were definitely riding on a
nostalgic high, as all these reused areas were recreated in loving detail in
3D, and it was kind of cool seeing how they turned out. See the next page for
some nifty comparison shots!
The nostalgia is also meant to bring back fond memories of
previous characters in the series as well. To name a few, Bruno Ostvald, Flap
the goon, Flobbage the construction worker, Andre Lobineau, and (spoiler) The
Grand Master of the Neo Templars from the first game. Some of these callbacks
work better than others, like Bruno having a major role and purpose in the
plot, as well as a dramatic sacrifice near the end; while Lobineau retains his
same role throughout the series as simply a character that spouts exposition
and history about Templars.
Sword II introduced the concept of separating our protagonists and jumping back
and forth between their adventures for a time. The Sleeping Dragon continues
this trend, though their reasons for separating at times doesn't make much
sense, "Hey I'm going to go explore the ancient Templar Church underground
which is undoubtedly crawling with clues and bad guys." "Alright, I'm going to
hang out at the apartment for awhile." Other times they have to separate while
infiltrating a castle, and the effect works really well as both characters have
vastly different tactics to reach the same area.
What would an adventure game be without its puzzles? Sadly
the puzzles in Broken Sword III are a very mixed bag. The developers just
couldn't help themselves in the transition to 3D worlds and had to include a
crate puzzle. A few crate puzzles. A lot of crate puzzles. SO MANY ***
CRATE PUZZLES! Ahem. By crate puzzles, I mean you come across a room full of
boxes, stacked in various ways, and you must tetris them around until you can
traverse onward. Nearly every area in the game had at least one of
these. Even the final location in the game, the final puzzle you perform is a
freaking crate puzzle. Other than those, there were several puzzles I enjoyed,
especially a very Indiana Jones/Tomb Raider like sequence where George and Nico
were exploring one of the power sites in the Congo. Each room had a different
inventive puzzle, from smashing spike traps, to a symbol colored floor
(complete with falling ceiling), a light refraction puzzle, and...sigh...a crate
puzzle. For the first time in the series, the game also introduced stealth
sequences. While it makes sense for the plot, I find these sequences more frustrating
than fun. Think Zelda where you get a view of the guard's patrols and have to
stay out of sight, but there's no Line of Sight from the guards, and the
aforementioned awful controls and camera hinder any fancy movement you try to
pull off. There was one particular sequence near the end in the Templar Church
that I had to replay at least a dozen times, and I was not happy about it.
I started out instantly hating the game for its controls and camera and change
into 3D, the writing and storyline really grew on me, and I enjoyed the classic
dramatic scenes and plot twists that have become synonymous with the series.
George and Nico are great protagonists, and could easily star in their own
adventure TV show with their constant male-female sassy bickering (X Files and
Bones come to mind). Most of the minor characters in the world jump out with
great voice acting, and The Sleeping Dragon has by far the best villains yet. I
feel like if the game had been done in the same 2D, beautifully animated style
of the first two it would by my favorite. That assumes of course that the crate
puzzles would have been eliminated in favor of inventory or logic puzzles. As
it is, The Sleeping Dragon worked hard to get me to hate it, but I still came
away with a decent experience, and it's impressive that the folks at Revolution
continued to create quality adventure games using the same characters and
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