Broken Sword: The Angel of Death PC DVD-ROM
Published by THQ
Developed by Revolution Software & Sumo Digital
Release Date: Out Now
Broken Sword: The Angel of Death, an introduction.
Whilst most point ‘n’ click adventure game series have come and gone the Broken Sword series has managed to endure. After having to wait what seemed like an eternity (in fact it was six years) for the third game in the series, Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon, it’s quite surprising to be playing the fourth game in the series less than two years after the release of the third game. The six year gap between Broken Sword II and The Sleeping Dragon saw some massive changes in the genre. The point ‘n’ click control method virtually evaporated and The Sleeping Dragon was released as a multi-format game and utilised a direct control system to take advantage of console controllers. This upset many fans of the series and in an about turn Broken Sword: The Angel of Death has returned to its point ‘n’ click roots.
What’s the game about?
A year after the events in The Sleeping Dragon we find George Stobbart working in a bail-bond agency situated in a run down part of Harlem. George seems to have finally settled into a mundane existence when he returns to his office to find the beautiful Anna Maria waiting for him. She wants George to decipher a medieval document that she has. Unfortunately for George it’s not a simple case as the mafia are hot on the heels of Anna Maria and shortly after meeting her they have to make a hurried escape. This document that Anna Maria has is what the mafia are after. Unfortunately for George she doesn’t have the document on her (she left it at her hotel) and it’s not long before he has to break into the New York Meat Packing factory (the ‘legitimate business’ of the local mafia) to get her document back. As you might suspect there’s a Templar connection to the story and although Nico is not in the early part of the game you can rest assured she’s in for a fair portion of it. All is not what it seems though and there are several twists and turns in the story before you reach its conclusion.
What’s good about the game?
After the block pushing shenanigans of The Sleeping Dragon it’s good to have some more challenging puzzles in a Broken Sword game. The quality of the puzzles is actually quite good. There are some puzzles that don’t seem very logical but most make sense and some are quite humorous such as the one where you have to make crank calls to a security guard to lure him out of position. There are some puzzles that are time based. That is to say you have to carry out your actions with the correct timing if they are to work. In the early part of the game you have to get past a loony Elvis impersonator to get into Anna Maria’s hotel room. You can only successfully do this by stringing a series of actions together that must be timed correctly otherwise you’ll fail to get past him. I suppose these kinds of puzzles will irritate some gamers but in all honesty once you’re used to the fact that timing is of the essence, it does spice up the game play somewhat. The most popular puzzle in the game is the hacking puzzle (as seen in the lowermost screenshot) which you’ll need to solve in order to gain access to restricted information. Basically you have to guide a data stream through a series of network points, whilst avoiding all of the obstacles, until it safely reaches the data server. These puzzles are quite enjoyable, although they do appear a little too frequently.
As we said earlier the series has returned to its point ‘n’ click roots and is all the better for it. Moving the characters around is simply a case of pointing and clicking on the destination. Of course the game is in a 3D environment this time around and there are problems at times (which we’ll come to in a moment) with characters not moving to the spot you selected but for the most part it works well. Moving the mouse pointer to the top of the screen accesses your inventory. The mouse pointer is context sensitive and will change according to where you position it. With certain items more than one function can be carried out. You’ll have to right click to find out if there’s a choice of actions you can select from. All things considered then it’s a much more intuitive control scheme than was found in The Sleeping Dragon and those who’ve played the first two games in the series will be far happier with it.
What’s bad about the game?
I’ve really enjoyed The Angel of Death for the 16 hours it’s taken to complete the game. It would be wrong to say that I don’t have any complaints with the game though. My biggest source of irritation has to be the bugs that are currently present in the game. There are some show stoppers here so make sure you keep a long list of saves. Fairly well into the game George will pay a visit to the Black Cat Club in Rome. To avoid giving the plot away I’ll keep the description brief. Essentially George is in a massage parlour (so he’s only wearing a towel) and gets locked in a room. On escaping the room one of his first tasks is to go back to his locker and get dressed. As soon as he opens the locker and comments on how he can now get dressed the game crashes. With my most recent save this crash occurred every single time. I even tried earlier saves that I had made and these crashed at the same point too. Eventually I tried the first save I had made in the Black Cat Club, played through to the part where it had crashed many times before and found it continued without any problems. From reading around on the Internet it appears others have had this problem, not only at this point but at other points too. As I said earlier then, it pays to keep a string of saves (I always saved the game as a new save and ended up with 100+ saves) just in case of any problems. Of course this needs to be sorted out with a patch.
Whilst it’s great to have a point ‘n’ click control system again, it’s a shame it’s a little problematic at times. I found that occasionally I would click on a location and the character would seem to go to some other place. Occasionally I had to do a series of clicks to negotiate a small obstacle because the character would attempt to walk through it and appear to have been stuck on the obstacle in question. On a few rare occasions a character would not respond when looking at an object (you may think there’s some unsubtitled speech in these cases but that’s not the case). In The Sleeping Dragon we thought there were far too many block pushing puzzles and in The Angel of Death there are too many hacking puzzles, although thankfully they aren’t as mind numbingly easy as the block pushing puzzles in The Sleeping Dragon. I also found the story in The Angel of Death to be the weakest one in the series so far, although it was still better than the stories in most adventure games we’ve seen in the last few years.
How does it look?
The Angel of Death is certainly one of the better looking 3D adventure games. You will need a fairly strong PC specification in order to have the game looking at its best though. The character models look quite impressive and for the most part animate quite nicely. The various environments you’ll find yourself in, such as Istanbul, Rome and Phoenix all look good. There are a few problems that should have been sorted out though. First of all there are some clipping issues. When you’re talking to Archie in Rome you’ll see Nico walk straight through George which looks unsightly. You have no control over the camera and at times it moves rather erratically. It never causes any real problems but it can be rather disorienting at times. The Angel of Death is easily the best looking game in the series and that’s essentially what will please fans of the series.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
Subtitles are offered in The Angel of Death and deaf gamers will have no problems with the game. The cutscenes are shown in a letterbox format with the subtitles being displayed in the lower boarder for maximum clarity. During the main game (where there are no borders) the text is shown in the lower half of the screen. The subtitles aren’t placed on an overlay or in a dialogue box, but the text is bold and easy to read. There are no character portraits or names placed alongside the text. However, the text is colour-coded and is absolutely fine. The game makes a good use of context sensitive cursor icons to show what action will be carried out if you click the mouse. The PDA is an important tool in The Angel of Death and all the information it will give you is shown in text. The game manual contains around 30 pages of English text and provides all the information you need to know, especially what you need to do with the hacking puzzles.
All things considered I’ve enjoyed Broken Sword: The Angel of Death. The return to a point ‘n’ click control system has been most gratifying and the same can be said of the return to some real puzzles instead of the far too easy block pushing efforts found in the previous game. Disappointments come in the form of the story being the poorest in the series so far (although it’s definitely not bad) and the bugs that can lead to some frustration if you haven’t kept a catalogue of saves. Even with these disappointments you have to say it’s an improvement on The Sleeping Dragon and we certainly hope this isn’t the last we see of George and Nico.
Overall Game Rating: 8.3/10
Deaf Gamers Classification:
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With most of the big adventure game series long gone, it's great to see a return of an old favourite. Broken Sword: The Angel of Death proves that George and Nico are still appealing characters and there's definitely potential for further games in the series. The Angel of Death does have some problems but it's an improvement on The Sleeping Dragon and the return to a point 'n' click control system and satisfactory puzzles is most welcome.