UGO

Review:

Broken Sword: The Smoking Mirror

by Revolution Software/Virgin Interactive


The Smoking Mirror is the second game in the Broken Sword series of adventure games. You play George Stobbard, and American caught in a plot involving ancient Mayan artifacts supposedly possessing supernatural powers. You are aided by your girlfriend Nico, whom you will also play during certain key points within the game.

Graphics in the game are absolutely breathtaking, gorgeous SVGA featuring near cinematic quality animation. The environment is composed of lovely images, layered for a perspective effect. As you move around the screen, the foreground will pan slightly, giving you a depth that is usually not provided in this type of game. Objects are clearly presented, and it is apparent what they are most of the time - nothing is so small that you can't locate it easily. Sounds are also excellent, even the voice acting is far above par. There are a couple of actors featuring forced performances or accents, but it is high quality throughout most of the game.

The interface is incredibly slick and intuitive. Move the cursor around the screen, and a name will appear over any object that may be manipulated. Left clicking on the object will cause the character to interact with it in some way. Right clicking on it provides a description. If an object may be placed in your inventory, it will be. The playing area takes up most of the screen, the exceptions being a small strip across the top and bottom of the screen. It makes the game look letterboxed in a way. Moving the cursor to the top of the screen causes the save/load/options icons to appear. Her you save or load the game, or configure the game to your liking. You may adjust the sound levels or graphical quality of the game, and opt for text transcripts of the dialogue to appear on the screen during play. Move the cursor to the bottom of the screen and your inventory becomes visible. Right clicking on an object describes it, left clicking on it selects it for use. Move the cursor onto the play field, and click the icon on the object you wish to use the object with. Objects are combined within inventory in the same manner.

The story is very engaging. I had not played the first game in the series, and there was nothing in this one that required knowledge of the prior game. Puzzles within the game are fair and mostly logical, and range in difficulty from easy to slightly difficult. It's challenging without being unfair. It's a very linear game, and once in a new area, you are cut off from other areas. that way, you know exactly where you will find the objects needed to solve a puzzle. Some might not appreciate the linearity, but I liked it because it didn't force me into wild goose chases looking for an object or solution. Probably 90% of the game is played through the actions of George, but Nico takes off on her own now and again to solve pieces of the puzzle.

The Smoking Mirror is an excellent game, and fans of the classic adventure genre should appreciate it for it's great story and good, solid puzzles. The game is seamless, runs great, and features some lovely graphical effects. In the opening playable part of the game there is a fire, and the flame effects are just amazing. It IS possible to die in the game, but not in too many places, and you will have time to react and play your way around it - nothing frustrating. All in all, I highly recommend this game. You may not have heard of the story or even be interested in Mayan history yourself, but if you enjoy a good story that plays out well without being infuriating, you'll probably like this game a lot.

Graphics 97%
Sounds 91%
Gameplay 95%
Interface 97%
Overall Impression 95%

Bottom Line: A great classic style adventure game. Extremely impressive animation and panning effects. Engaging story, logical puzzles, a joy to play through. Highly recommended, even if you have never played the first game, Shadow of the Templars.


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