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Broken Sword

Have you ever thought how frustrating it is to be a villain in fiction, be it a film, book, play, or computer game? There you are just about to take over the world and some bl**dy hero comes along and spoils everything. The best you can hope for is a sequel, but these days that seems to be rare. The hero, on the other hand, never seems to do anything Broken Sword Cafe wrong. He/she may be thwarted in the beginning but they never do anything wrong. It also never seems to matter how good a shot the villain is, the hero never gets really hurt. Sure, they may get a flesh wound occasionally, but nothing more serious. And, even more annoying, they always get the girl, or these days possibly the boy :-)

The hero in Broken Sword, George Stobbart, is no exception, but somehow he manages to seem like a normal human being who just got caught up in things. The story starts in Paris, with George having a quiet drink in a typical Parisian sidewalk cafe. The next thing he knows a clown blows up the cafe. Yes - a clown. You know the sort who wears baggy trousers and a red nose, and often has custard thrown in his face or down his trousers. Now most of us would, after being blown up, head straight for the nearest hospital, while complaining very loudly about the terrible security and why can't the government do something about it. Not our George, he goes after the clown.

The first thing that George discovers is that the cafe was not a random target. The clown was after one of the customers and, needless to say the victim is dead. Then George meets the romantic interest, Nico Coulard, a very Broken Sword Church good looking freelance journalist. It transpires that Nico was due to meet the victim, who had some very important information on a series of seemingly random murders. George decides to help Nico find out who the clown is and bring him to justice. Actually, George has a number of good reasons for this, but personally I think he is just trying to get Nico into bed.

George and Nico very soon discover that the murders were not random and are in fact linked to the Knights Templar. The Templars, were supposed to have been destroyed in the 14th century, and their treasure lost. However, it becomes obvious that there is still a group of people who consider themselves to be the Templars. At the start of the game it is unclear whether the Templars are the ones carrying out Broken Sword Courtyard the murders or the ones being killed. For that matter, are they the villains or not? Well, you'll have to play the game to find out.

The interface is the usual point and click affair with the mouse pointer changing depending on what, if anything, you can do with the object it is over. For example, it changes to a pointing hand to show which direction you can walk in, or a hand in the process of picking something up when over an object you might need, and a magnifying glass if you can look at the object and so on. One nice touch is that the right mouse button has a different function to the left. For example, there are some objects which you can use, such as a door which can be opened. When the mouse pointer is over such objects it turns into a pair of cog wheels. Left clicking will cause George to attempt to use the object, and in the case of a door, he will try to open it. Right clicking, on the other hand will give you a description of the object. This works very well and you soon get into the habit of right clicking first. However, it is a bit confusing when the pointer is Broken Sword Hotel a magnifying glass. In this case I would expect right and left clicking to give the same result, after all that pointer is used to tell you something about the object. In practice you get two different descriptions and in some cases, left clicking will cause George to do something with the object. In most cases, this does not matter, but when in Syria you must right click or you will not be able to do something.

The screen is divided into three areas, a small bar at the top of the screen which holds George's inventory, a small bar at the bottom which gives choices for George when he is speaking, and the main area which shows the current scene. When George is talking a number of icons will appear in the bottom bar. These icons represent things that George can talk about. In most cases it is pretty obvious what the icons represent, for example a picture of a glass of beer gives George the option to ask for a pint. In a few cases the icons can be a bit strange looking, especially the ones referring to people, but with a little thought you should be able to work them out. To select a subject for George to talk about all you need to do is click on the appropriate icon. George can also ask people about the items he is carrying, again just by clicking on the item. Broken Sword Window

The graphics are excellent, despite, or perhaps because, they are of the cartoon variety rather than full motion video. Each of the characters are different and there is no way you could get any of them muddled up. This might be because there are no minor characters, apart from a group of American tourist and a couple of Syrian market sellers. It is possible, and in most cases necessary, to have a good conversation with all the other characters. Not only that but each of the characters has his/her own personality, including a 'funny' accent. Some of the characters are extremely funny, for example Moue the policeman had me laughing out loud. Others are serious and some are down right menacing.

If I have any complaints about the graphics, it is that sometimes the objects are rather too close to each other. For example, when in Ireland you visit a pub and talk to the various people inside it. There also a number of items which you can operate and a couple which you can pick up. The thing is that one of the objects you can pick up is very close to a couple of objects you can operate. This means that it can be difficult to notice that you can pick it up. I certainly Broken Sword Museum spent a long time in the pub because I didn't notice the object. Another problem, in the same pub, is that one of the objects only appears for a few moments. Despite the fact that it keeps reappearing, if you are not looking at the right time you may well miss it.

The sound is also very good. Each of the characters has a different voice, although some of the accents are a bit funny. The music is excellent and fits the mood of each scene. Mind you, it was written by Barrington Pheloung, so it's not surprising. Barrington Pheloung is the person who did the music for the Inspector Morse series, in case you didn't know. Incidentally, there are subtitles available not only in English, but also French, German and Spanish. It is also possible to have Italian subtitles but these are not fully implemented in the current version. The only trouble is that if you want the subtitles in any language other than English you have to manually edit the Sword.Inf file. The manual is quite good and includes just about everything you need to know. But, as seems to be common these days, there is no section on what to do if something goes wrong. There is however a phone number and a web site listed which can be used to get technical support. This is important because there is a rather nasty bug in the game. When you get back from Syria the game can crash. Fortunately Revolution Software have made a fix available via their web site. They have also posted a message in the usenet group (comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.adventure) describing the problem and the fix.

The puzzles are a nice mixture of easy and hard. The nice thing about the puzzles is that they are all pretty realistic, that is to say that the solutions are what I would probably do in that situation. There are a number of clues for each of the puzzles. In some cases the clues are pretty obvious, but in most cases only after you have solved the puzzle. All in all Broken Sword is an excellent adventure, with a nice range of puzzles, excellent graphics and some wonderful characters.