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DS  header logo

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

For: DS   Also on: GameBoy, Mobile

Resurrected

Product: Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars - Director's Cut | Developer: Revolution Software | Publisher: Ubisoft | Format: DS | Genre: Adventure | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
 
Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars - Director's Cut DS, thumbnail 1
Few things in life stand the test of time. In the mid 1990s, I thought Shed Seven was the greatest band ever. Now, listening to their output makes me shudder.

With this in mind, it's daunting to approach the remake of Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars. Sure, a decade ago the original game was the bee's knees, but can the new Director's Cut on DS cast the same infectious spell?

A quick recap is, of course, in order. Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars is a point-and-click adventure released in 1996, and which after selling a million copies went on to spawn a well-respected series, the fourth game of which came out in 2006.

This first title places you in the snug leather shoes of American tourist George Stobbart as he attempts to uncover the mystery surrounding the Knights Templar - a shadowy organisation with a history that stretches back to the Crusades. (You know, those guys that caused all that grief in The Da Vinci Code.)

Coming along for the ride is chic French journalist Nico Collard, and one of the major changes present in the Director's Cut is that Nico's backstory is expanded considerably.

In fact, the opening portion of the game focuses on her attempts to unravel the murder of a well-respected French businessman, and this intrigue - which includes information on her father's mysterious death - ties in neatly with the plot of the original game without breaking the continuity.

As you would expect, another major change to the game involves the control method. While the original relied on traditional mouse-based pointing-and-clicking, developer Revolution has tailored this portable update to make full use of the DS's touchscreen and stylus.

Here, you drag-and-drop rather than point-and-click. Placing the stylus on the screen reveals a cursor which can be moved around a scene, shifting your character to different locations and highlighting points of interest.

For example, if the cursor lands on a light switch, two options will appear. An eyeball signifies that you can inspect the switch further and the two cogs indicate that you can use the switch. Tapping one of these choices activates the option. Other actions include a hand for picking up objects to put in your inventory for future use.

This revised control method isn't the only way in which the touchscreen is used. Certain puzzles have been designed to make use of the stylus, such as a door lock which can only be released by sliding around a series of incumbent metal bars, as well as safe-breaking and code-cracking.

In this kind of game, the puzzles placed in the player's path can either make or break the enjoyment of the experience.

Too many point-and-click adventures rely on obtuse conundrums to provide their challenge. Anyone who has previously dabbled in the genre will be painfully aware of the 'try everything' method, where the solution is so obscure your only choice is to attempt to use every item available in a desperate effort to proceed.

One of the things that made (and make) Broken Sword so enjoyable is it manages to avoid such flaws: lateral thinking will get you past pretty much every cerebral roadblock that bars your way.

Of course, that's not to suggest the game is a pushover. You'll often find yourself stuck on a particular section, but when the solution becomes apparent you'll curse yourself for not having seen it sooner, rather than lamenting the unpredictable thought processes of the developer.

However, should you still find yourself hopelessly stumped you'll be glad to know that Revolution has included a solid hint mode. In the top-right hand corner of the screen there's a blue question mark: tapping this opens up a three-stage hint menu which is directly relevant to the puzzle you're facing.

The first hint is fairly ambiguous and usually states the obvious. The second hint is more specific and will essentially tell you what action to take but stops short of giving the full solution. The third option is your last resort. In the case of the aforementioned door lock, for example, it provides a cheat which instantly solves the puzzle.

This system prevents the game from grinding to a halt when you're stuck but it should be used with caution, as it can ruin the challenge.

Gameplay changes aside, Shadow of the Templars still looks and sounds as great as it did 13 years ago. The beautiful background and sprite artwork from a previous GBA version is used and new character comic-style graphics have been commissioned to run on the top screen of the DS. These come from the hand of Watchman illustrator Dave Gibbons, no less, and are excellent.

The animation is lovely too, and although the voice acting that made the original game so charming has been stripped away due to the storage limitations of the DS, the music is still effective in building tension and creating atmosphere.

It's not a totally perfect re-imagining though. While Nico's enhanced story adds a large serving of new content for fans of the original, it's over all too quickly and once you get stuck into George's segment of the game, there's little new material.

This isn't a problem if you've never played Shadow of the Templars before, but old-timers might be a little disappointed that more wasn't done to give them extra reason to play through the game's ten or so hours of globe-spanning conspiracy theories all over again.

Also, some of the new menus look a bit thrown together. The hint screen is especially guilty of this, and such a dip in presentation quality leaves a bit of a sour taste, particularly when you consider how good the rest of the game looks.

The other issue with Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars is that once you've solved the mystery, you're unlikely to return. But this goes with the genre: the criticism can be levelled at pretty much any adventure title you care to mention. While it lasts, then, this Director's Cut provides hours of top-quality story-telling and stimulating puzzle-solving.
 
Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars - The Director's Cut
Reviewer photo
Damien McFerran | 28 March 2009
The passing of time has done little to dull this classic adventure. This DS release might just be the best version of Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars yet
 
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