Has anybody seen my gal?
Broken Sword: The Smoking Mirror is the sequel to
Circle of Blood and it shows its heritage well. You play the part of American
tourist George Stobbart. You have returned to Paris to meet your girlfriend, Nico,
as she shows a Mayan artifact to a Professor Obier. You are clubbed, and Nico
is drugged and taken away. You awaken, tied to a chair and left in a burning room
with a giant spider. Like the stereotypical villains that they are, they have
left without making sure that you are dead. Following the tradition of its predecessor,
Broken Sword relies on a well-worn plot line that most would call cliché.
The plots of Broken Sword
and Circle of Blood are very similar. In both, there
is a powerful artifact. The bad guys want the artifact. You and the love interest
(Nico) gallivant around the globe after the artifact. And of course, if you
fail, the world is doomed. This game bears a strong resemblance, as does its
predecessor, to Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. Indy is replaced
with George, Sophia is replaced by Nico, and the Nazi’s are replaced by Tezcatlipoca.
The plot feels like the designers played the Indiana Jones game and just changed
a few things around.
People who bought Circle of Blood will feel right
at home. They will also be relieved to hear that Revolution has fixed most of
the technical problems of Circle of Blood. I did not
experience a single crash in the total time I was playing. I was relieved that
Broken Sword did not insist on overwriting my graphics driver, or reinstalling
DirectX. The quality of the cutscene animations has also improved.
However, Broken Sword seems to have inherited the sound problems of
Circle of Blood. There was often a light reverberation
in the speech of characters, and occasionally a total loss of sound quality
for several seconds. Other than the occasional sound problem, Broken Sword
is technically solid. If the sound is giving you problems, you can always turn
on the subtitles.
My main gripe against Broken
Sword is the puzzles. They are just too easy. Broken Sword seems
to rely too much on the ‘distract someone’ puzzles, and it still has too many
inventory puzzles that require only one or two objects, or which are too obvious.
This is not to say that the puzzles are bad, just generally too easy. There
is also very little danger in Broken Sword. Mostly, the only penalty
for failure is being unable to advance, not death. I was glad to see that Broken
sword relies less on the ‘get the key to the lock’ puzzle than on the ‘bypass
the lock’ type. However, the easiness of this game is exacerbated by the fact
that is very hard to misuse an object. The play value is further reduced by
the linearity of the game. You can’t go back to a previous location and there
is only one path the end. In Fate of Atlantis although there was one
ending, there were three paths to that ending. With all the designers borrowed
from the Indiana Jones game, it would have been nice if they borrowed the multi-path
The humor found in Circle of Blood is carried over
to Broken Sword. Although the jokes can be a little silly, they are not
corny. Some of the humor can get a somewhat risqué at times. Although the puzzles
of Broken Sword are at a good level for a child to handle without too much trouble,
the dialogue makes this game more appropriate for the PG-13 crowd. If you liked
Circle of Blood, you will definitely like Broken
Sword. However, I would only recommend this game to someone who would like
to try out an adventure game without too much challenge, or who really likes
the artifact-chasing, save-the-world type of adventure. For the more experienced
adventurer, I would recommend that you pass this one up.