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Broken Sword - The Shadow of the Templars
George outside the caféAt the middle of the 1990s, things were still intact for adventure fans. Although many sloppily designed rendered adventures filmed with real actors were published, the genre hadn't gone into decline so far. The ingenious Broken Sword - The Shadow of the Templars (or Circle of Blood in the US) by the small British software house Revolution Software surely played its part in that development, defying both the rendering tendencies of that time and the genre's leader LucasArts. But Broken Sword was able to set a new benchmark in more than one respect - apart from the unusual cartoon style presentation, it deftly combined historic facts with riveting fiction revolving around the mysterious order of the Knights Templar.
 
An American in Paris:
Nico's flatAt a small outdoor café, the American George Stobbart enjoys his stay in autumn Paris when his attention focuses on a clown entering the café and leaving it only shortly after. Moments later, the café is ravaged by an explosion - killing one visitor in the process. As the victim's suitcase appears to have been stolen, Inspector Russo from the French police concludes that the bombing must have been aimed at the dead man, but being the American he is George starts looking for clues of the perpetrators on his own. Along with reporter Nicole Collard, whose flat serves as an impromptu headquarters, they embark on their search. An spectacular search at that as both of them will learn, which will take them into five European countries and onto the trail of the legendary treausre of the Knights Templar. Since the dissulotion of their order by the Pope in the 14th century, the treasure has been the stuff of innumerous legends which seems to have been lost till the present day...
 
Back to the future:
Inside the cathedralIn terms of presentation, George and Nico's historic journey was by no means medieval. Directing the character by the point-and-click method was easy enough, conversations could be controlled with the help of tiny icons and the "intelligent" cursor guided your attention towards interesting objects. Now and then, small action sequences tested your reflexes, but most of the time you spent solving puzzles by using and combining objects or by gaining information from conversations. Undisputed highlight were the cartoon style graphics that former artists of Don Bluth Studios had hand painted with an extreme love for detail; the game even featured parallax scrolling, something rarely seen in adventures. The graphics' quality can best be examplified by the cathedral with its colorful window depicting a medieval scene that almost seemed photo-realistic. At some points pre-rendered cutscenes narrated the story. But also the soundtrack scored by the London Metropolitan Orchestra as well as the ambient sounds (e.g. in the streets of Paris) contributed to the game's atmosphere. Professional voice-overs completed the excellent presentation of Broken Sword.
Details:
Producer:
Revolution

Released:
In 1996

Nostalgia:
very high

System:
Windows

Playable?
of course

Available?
Low budget

Links:
Br. Sword 3 (Ger)
The story continues:
Revolution SoftwareIt was only one year after the first successful installment that the likewise ingenious Broken Sword 2 - The Smoking Mirror followed, this time dealing with an old Mayan civilization. Improved graphics, even more ironic side-swipes from George, reduced dialogues and an extremely motivating story sensibly developed the concept of the first installment.
With Broken Sword, Revolution Studios and their head Charles Cecil, who had founded the company in 1990, became finally known to gamers and industry alike. Prior to publishing Broken Sword, they had released both the nicely designed Lure of the Temptress (1992) and the convincing Beneath a Steel Sky (1994). Last year's games, El Dorado and In Cold Blood weren't as brilliant as their former games, but Revolution still have some titles up their sleeve. For 2002, they plan to release the innovative police thriller Good cop, bad cop on the one hand and the highly anticipated Broken Sword 3 - The Sleeping Dragon on the other hand. The adventure genre won't die therefore - thanks to such resourceful developers like Revolution Software.
© 05-18-2001 by CE

 
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