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Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars (Director's Cut) (Wii) (Wii) Review

Review for Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars (Director

The point and click adventure genre is one that many outside the PC gaming scene might not be familiar with. Pioneered in the Golden Days by modern-day Star Wars Spammers Lucasarts, folks were treated to such treats as Day of the Tentacle, Maniac Mansion, and the insane Monkey Island games. As developers ushered in a new technological age of games creation, and 3D became the norm, though, this genre was left out in the cold, even on its home format, the PC. Through the advent of Wii and DS however, the genre now has new outlets through which it can attempt to captivate new crowds. How does one of its biggest names, Revolution and Charles Cecil's Broken Sword, fare on Nintendo's disc-slurping sales powerhouse?

This version of the classic point and click adventure was brought to Wii and DS by Ubisoft in the form of a Director's Cut. It offers a new introduction, new scenes and puzzles, whilst keeping intact a large proportion of the original content of the first game. In theory, the Wii remote's pointer lends itself well to the premise of a point and click interface, and whilst it has for other titles like Zack & Wiki and the first season compilation of Sam & Max, can it do so here?

One of the most important aspects for a title like this is the underlining story, and thankfully Shadow of the Templars doesn't disappoint. Unlike the original, which began with an explosive accordion leveling a cafe (this scene is still in the game, just at a later stage), the Director's Cut commences with a meeting between Nico (the second main character) and an important womanizing-figurehead of France, who ends up getting shot by a mime. Through puzzle-solving and exploration, the plot becomes intertwined with the yesteryear of the Knights Templar; a military organization prominent in the 12th century and one of the more infamous staples of Christian history. Needless to say, those with an interest in this kind of nerdy knowledge will find a lot to like - and for the rest of us it's made accessible and easy to understand, so no problems there.

The new opening that the Director's Cut wedges in introduces one of the more striking new features; conversational portraits on the sides of the screens. These hand-drawn illustrations and animations were designed by Dave Gibbons, an artist that has also worked on Watchmen, Doctor Who and DC Comic artwork. While they're not lip-synced with the character voices, they do animate, and help cover the glaring (if you played the original version) omission of regular lip-movement for the character avatars on the main screen.

Screenshot for Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars (Director's Cut) (Wii) on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The style of the visuals and cut scenes still impress 13 years on from the original release of the game, even if they would hardly make an N64 break out in a sweat, let alone a Wii. For those that look carefully, they will easily notice the sharper textures for the new content as opposed to the old. Given the budget of the game (and to some extent the publisher), it was inevitable that the Director's Cut wouldn't reach the graphical and effort standard of, say, Klonoa, but it's a shame to see what could have been.

The user interface for the Director's Cut is greatly improved from the mouse of old. Tailored for the strengths of the Wii remote, players will find easy-to-access menu options, large icons of the items needed to combine and examine in the characters' bag or pockets, and simple conversational options to choose. In short, the pointer functionality of the game works extremely well, and will never be a hindrance. The motion detection however, will.

In the original PC and Playstation title, what puzzles there were focused on theory and mouse control. For this Wii-imagining, Revolution has embraced motion control for the brainteasers. Many of the puzzles that do this are new to the game, but most have very poor detection of the player's movements. You will be able to solve these tasks via trial and error, but you will most likely curse a fair bit before you do. Thankfully, these puzzles make up a relatively small part of the game, but they can be an annoyance.

Screenshot for Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars (Director's Cut) (Wii) on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

One other new feature of this version that relates to puzzles, and the whole game in general, is the hints system. You can toggle it on and off on the starting menu, and you never absolutely have to use it, but - as any Action Replay owner can attest to - it's very hard to resist bending the rules a little. Revolution knew this, and depending on how many hints you use (if any; there's a choice of up to four at one time), it will impact upon your final score. Through some of the more illogical moments (of which there are precious few), this system can be a useful boon, but it is best used sparingly.

For sound, the main draw of the game is the voice acting. For the newer segments of the game, this is of a more modern standard, with good quality speech, and effective role acting. It's a shame then, that Revolution didn't re-dub the rest of the game as well, since they were able to give George Stobbart (the main character) some new lines that heavily contrast in caliber when you hear the older voice work. This focus on dulcet tones means music is pushed to the background; and aside from some dramatic flourishes when discovering a new piece of information or accomplishing a new puzzle you'll barely hear it, although for some of the locales you'll visit, such as Syria and Ireland, the immersion is amplified greatly.

Screenshot for Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars (Director's Cut) (Wii) on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Typically, the main storyline of a point and click adventure title lasts quite a while, and with the extra content in this version it would take a first-time player around 10 - 12 hours to finish. Sadly though, there is little to come back to, as there are no extra features to speak of, aside from a 2 player mode almost exactly like that of Super Mario Galaxy; a second pointer can be controlled by a companion to help the main player along. It doesn't help, either, that Revolution actually cut some of the dialogue trees and choices available to the player originally and simplified certain segments of the game for less frustration. Those who know what I mean when I say the word 'goat' will find this a blessing, but in contrast in the instance of 'shock buzzer', a missing interaction of the player's choice will most likely not go down well.

The Director's Cut presents a conundrum in that it is largely difficult to recommend, despite the extras and the enjoyable core of the game. On one hand, this is arguably the greatest version of the game yet, and on the other, you have the misguided chiefs at Ubisoft charging full-price for it, which is an incredibly over inflated charge. This game is available in many other forms, be it the 5 pound double-pack of the two main games on PC (that also works on Vista), the Playstation original, or the technical marvel that is the GBA version, and whilst the exclusive content in this version is worth considering, it is by no means definitive.

Screenshot for Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars (Director's Cut) (Wii) on Wii- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

Wii pointer control is integrated excellently and the script and character portrayal have stood the test of time, even if awkward motion controlled tasks let the side down.

Graphics

Nothing that would give the Wii any trouble, but clean simple visuals and an intuitive interface lend themselves well to Stobbart's endeavours.

Sound

New voice work shows up the old, but both are of top quality in regards to ability. Background tunes show up regularly to add a touch of immersion, but it is nothing you will end up humming.

Value

A good 10 - 12 hours of play for first-timers, and veteran Broken Sword fans will get a kick out of the new content. Lack of effort in old sections of the game, however, does not justify the asking price.

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

About this score
Rated 8 out of 10

This is quite possibly the best version of Broken Sword so far - and yet, it isn't the version point and click enthusiasts should be misguidedly dashing out to buy. Excellent pointer controls, iffy motion controls, and a script and setting that meshes together old and new sounds great on paper/screen, but shelling out 40 pounds for it will leave you feeling short-changed. Be wary of this when deciding what version of Shadow of the Templars to pick up.

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21.05.2009

4

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Developer

Ubisoft

Publisher

Ubisoft

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (2 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date TBA   Australian release date Out now   

Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

I'd like to get this used a few years from now. I enjoyed the second Broken Sword game and want to play the first...but not for that price.

TAG: That American Guy

"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Romans 12:18
Staff Member

I feel so privileged, and I'm not even posh. Smilie


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