Should I Buy? – Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror


As I mentioned before, the original Broken Sword came about on the tail end of the genre’s popularity, with the absurd difficulty and their wacky humour becoming increasingly anachronistic. Shadow of the Templars walked a knife-edge between the old school challenge and the new want for something pretty and engaging. On the whole, it did. The characters were likeable, the humour was consistent and subtle, the puzzles required real thought and it was gorgeous to see and hear.

The Smoking Mirror, not so much. That’s not to say that it’s a bad game, it just has the misfortune of being a sequel to an even better game.

This time around, our hero George Stobbart is reconnecting with the heroine Nicole Collard after time spent apart. Only she ends up getting kidnapped when she insists they visit the home of a professor that promised to help her identify a mysterious stone she was sent.

The resulting adventure takes place largely in South America (the continent, not the states) and Paris, though it does branch out on occasion. The art style that served the first game so well with the detailed backgrounds of proud old European architecture doesn’t lend itself so well to the various foliage of this game’s locale. That’s not to say the game has no moments of visual brilliance, and early dockside sequence manages a great noir-ish atmosphere by leaning on those self-same strengths that the first game had.

The beans

It also doesn’t sound as good. The voice talent is still good for videogaming, but slightly below the previous game. The worst offender is the redesigned Nico, who’s lost her sexy voice and even undergone a change in accent.

As for the actual gameplay, it’s still the same point-n-click the first one had. There’s no real balance between brilliant, intuitive puzzles and the insane moon logic the game the game occasionally grasps at. Sure, it’s nowhere near as weird as Monkey Island, and you can see that there is a clear logical thread to the actions, it’s just that trying the first link in the chain often seems a stupid thing to do.

There’s also sections where you play as Nico, who’s only differentiation from George is in the items she carries. It’s a nice addition that while being nothing special in itself, it means that the plot gets to stretch its legs in places and do things it otherwise couldn’t.

A lot of this review has been me saying that it doesn’t match up to the first, but it’s not like how the Star Wars prequels are much worse than the Original Trilogy, it’s more how Return of the Jedi isn’t quite as good as The Empire Strikes Back, despite both of them being excellent and iconic films. Or how Temple of Doom isn’t as good as Raiders of the Lost Ark for a more thematically consistent comparison.

Get this if you’re looking for this type of thing, it is one of the best available. IF you’ve not played the original, or the absolutely free Beneath A Steel Sky, get those first.

NOTE: This review is for the original version, gog.com are offering a remastered version with cool new stuff, though just how cool I don’t know. The original is included for free in the download though.

Price: (gog.com) $5.99

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mitch Allan
    Sep 18, 2011 @ 17:32:02

    Can’t wait to finish the first one to get this one under my belt too – still sounds like it will be a lot of fun (possibly unlike the later titles…)
    WHY WOULD YOU CHANGE NICO’S VOICE? It was the sexiest thing since sex…

    Reply

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