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Pondrew Reviews... Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars

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#1
Pondrew

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[teaser]Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars
for Windows Mobile for Pocket PC 2003, 2003 SE and 5.0 with QVGA, VGA and 240x240 resolutions

Attached File  splash.jpg   24.64KB   64 downloads


It is almost a month now since Astraware and Revolution Software announced the release of Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars for devices running Windows Mobile for Pocket PC. The joint press release for which proudly declared that the game delivered stunning graphics, video cutscenes and text dialog along with full speech soundtrack and music. Sounds good doesn't it? Does the game live up to it in my opinion? Read on to find out...
[/teaser]
Attached File  title.jpg   46.54KB   64 downloads


Before we get into the review itself let me first give you a little background on Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars. Originally available for PC, Playstation, Mac and Game Boy Advance, the game was probably Revolution Software's biggest selling adventure title to date. Its success on PC spawned two (soon to be three) further instalments of the Broken Sword series and a large following in the adventure gaming community. Now, having worked with Astraware to make the release of the Pocket PC version possible, Revolution Software declare themselves proud of the Windows Mobile translation. Astraware, having themselves a solid reputation for the development, publishing and distribution of games for mobile devices, seem equally proud of their work declaring it the complete PC game experience on a handheld device.

What does all this mean? Well, hopefully it means that those adventure game enthusiasts with Pocket PCs can now enjoy truly involving storyline and a fluid user interface, combined with excellent graphics and sound, while mobile. Of course, they'll need at least 130 meg free on their storage card to do so but that's a small price to pay. :D

So, onto initial impressions of the game which I am pleased to say are very good. From the moment you first run the game you are greeted with lilting, atmospheric music and a polished menu system. There is a full range of options, the most significant of which being language selection and orientation. Aside from English, the text dialog can be displayed in French, German, Italian or Spanish. Regarding screen orientation, although the screen will always display in landscape mode, orientation enables customisation for left or right handed use.

Attached File  introa.GIF   108.75KB   64 downloads


Start the game itself and you are treated to a spoken introduction before the rolling of the intro. This is the first of many impressive cut scenes that, during the course of the game, will tell the story of The Shadow of the Templars.

The story begins at the end of the last millennium with the main character George Stobbart, an American Tourist vacationing in Paris, narrowly missing an early death in an explosion at a café.

Attached File  beginning.jpg   87.8KB   63 downloads


You then take control of George as he becomes embroiled in a dangerous quest to uncover the mysterious Knights Templar. How dangerous? Well, let's just say that this is one of those adventure games where a wrong decision can leave you dead and reaching for the restore button. So, good job there is a restore button! :D

Attached File  action.gif   213.16KB   59 downloads


One of the main concerns of any hardened point and click adventure game enthusiast approaching such a game as this on Pocket PC will be the implementation of the game interface. They need not fear however as Astraware really have excelled themselves, translating the game to the Windows Mobile Pocket PC platform, so that the stylus interaction is natural and intuitive. By default, objects, people and locations in the immediate vicinity of the main character are highlighted on screen by a small cursor. Should the player however decide they need more guidance or want to check if they are missing something they can toggle a display of all items of interest within a screen. See the screenshots below for an illustration of this guided mode in action:

Attached File  guidance.GIF   85.73KB   57 downloads


As the player guides George through his investigation he visits many different locations, many of which are revisited during the course of the story. To link the locations together and maintain a sense of freedom of movement, as the investigation progresses through the locales of Paris, a map screen is used. The user only has to use the stylus to specify the location they wish to visit next. Later, as the investigation takes an international turn, a similar map is used albeit this time of Europe.

Attached File  maps.GIF   80.77KB   52 downloads


One of the requirements of a great adventure game is longevity, something that is helped greatly by inclusion of a wealth of locations. And a wealth of locations is exactly what Broken Sword delivers as the storyline take George around the streets (and even sewers!) of Paris before taking him to locales in other countries including Ireland, Spain and Syria.

So, we can say that Broken Sword delivers good graphics, music and sound, an excellent user interface, and a wealth of locations. What more could we ask for? How about some quality humour? After all, think back to the best adventure games of the past such as The Secret of Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle. These games didn't just keep us in our seats, they occasionally made us fall out of them laughing or smiling at their razor sharp wit! Given a large part of an adventure game is conversing with the non player characters, to obtain leads and advance, why shouldn't a few one liners be thrown in for some comic relief without unbalancing the game or distracting from the story. Well, I'm pleased to say Shadow of the Templars manages to strike a good balance on this too.

Attached File  joke.jpg   67.41KB   59 downloads Attached File  joke1.gif   63.98KB   67 downloads

Attached File  joke2.gif   209.6KB   62 downloads


You've probably gathered by now that I quite enjoyed playing Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars, indeed, very much so. The game difficulty was just right, starting out pretty straightforward with logical puzzles to solve and gradually increasing the thinking necessary to progress. I consider it a triumph to have finished the game and a testament to the quality of the title that it took as long as it did! For an adventure game to take a few days to play through is a sign of it being too short and/or easy and would make it a disappointment. Thankfully that wasn't the case here and the title was able to occupy my attention for a good few weeks, through an excellent balance between difficulty and size.

Attached File  spain___rainbow.jpg   76.91KB   62 downloads


Having taken all of this into account it is fairly easy to conclude the review stating that this is a quality translation of an excellent adventure game. Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars will hook the average gamer early on and keep them coming back until they reach the excellent ending.

Attached File  splash2.jpg   16.64KB   50 downloads


Finally, a personal plea to Astraware and Revolution Software. Do the decent thing and bring Broken Sword 2 to Windows Mobile Pocket PCs. I want more! :D


Available from www.astraware.com
Cost is $29.95
NOTE: Members of Club Astraware get Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars for just $19.95.
You can join Club Astraware FREE by registering here.

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#2
spider

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I remember I had this game for my GBA...however it had a serious bug...If a player went to the wrong country at the wrong time (I cant remember how exactly it was right now, though I recall it had something to do with traveling to or from Spain) you were locked in the game and couldn't not finish it (you had to start all over again). As I recall it, there was a notice about this on a web page for the game or for the publisher as I recall it.....

I even had the game replaced as the shop were I bought it thought it was a defect game!!!

Do you know if this is the case with the PPC version as well?

Also there should be an easteregg, when you are in the sewer..at least in the GBA version....maybe it is in the PPC verison as well... :D

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#3
Pondrew

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I hadn't heard of this bug. Having just done some research I've found the suggestion that the bug only ever affected the Gameboy Advance version.

I am 99% sure that this does not occur in the Windows Mobile version although I will do some tests. Oh, and for what it is worth I understand that Astraware's beta testers are better then most...

In the meantime, I'd be interested to hear more about the easter egg in the sewers? :D

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#4
awarner

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There was a bug on the PC version when you were in Ireland but it does not appear in this version.

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#5
Pondrew

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Right. Well what my research suggested is that the bug in the Gameboy Advance version was that if you went to Spain before Syria then you would be unable to then subsequently visit Syria and/or (there were two different suggestions!) as a result be stuck in a particular location without the object needed to proceed.

I've just tested these particular aspects of the game (because I don't get enough software testing in my 9 to 5!?!) and had no problems. I am now certain this bug IS NOT in this Windows Mobile version of Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars.

Yep, and as Awarner says there was a bug involving an object in Ireland. There was another at the end of the game, again involving certain objects. Neither of these bugs are in this version of the game. It seems Revolution Software, with the help of Astraware, finally have an ultimate version. The Windows Mobile version! :D

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#6
spider

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I would have been surprised, if they hadn't fixed the bug in this version, but nice to know that it is non-existing.....

What I remember about the easter egg was that when you go into the sewer, from the street, you are can, as a part of the game, go down the end of the tubing and apparently at the end there would be a preview of the next version of Broken Sword. Now I have to say that I didn't try this myself as I had sold the game when I found out about this, but I wonder if it is embedded in the PPC version....could be funny to see...

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#7
Alison Astraware

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Hi guys

Just to confirm, the Spain/Syria bug you are talking about was in the GBA version, and did affect the Palm OS version of Broken Sword as it was based upon the GBA version, however now that the Windows Mobile version is complete, Revolution are working on a fix for that.

I've checked the Windows Mobile version and it doesn't appear that the Easter Egg is included.

Cheers!
Alison

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Pondrew

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Thanks Alison. Didn't think the Easter egg was in there as I thoroughly explored both sewers...

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#9
spider

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Thanks Alison, for the clarification :D
Now that you are here maybe you can tell me what the Easter egg was in the GBA version...I never saw it myself... sorry I know this is off topic :D

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Laser_iCE

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I've never heard of this game before... But it looks a lot like Monkey Island, so it must be pretty funny :D I'll check it out when I'm not so poor :D

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#11
Alison Astraware

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Hi Spider, actually I'm here most days but I tend to lurk a lot. I really don't know what the Easter Egg in the GBA version was. I played it myself when it came out, but never found an Easter Egg.

There's an old interview with Charles Cecil here but it doesn't tell you what the Easter Eggs are, just that they exist!

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#12
richard_d

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Pondrew - thanks for the good review - you're tempting my credit card. I don't suppose you've had a look at Myst to see how well that's ported?

Richard

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#13
Pondrew

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I haven't I'm afraid. Will let you know if I manage to try it out...

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