I had planned on waiting to write this review until the English spoken version of Broken Sword 2.5: Return of the Templars had been released as well, but since there is no sign yet that this is going to happen anytime soon, I might as well review the game now.
And here it is, the review of Broken Sword 2.5: Return of the Templars. So, was it worth the wait? Did the unofficial fan made sequel live up to its expectations? Can it be called a true Broken Sword game? But most of all: did playing it make us relive the ‘good ole’ 2D Broken Sword times?
First of all, let us take a quick look at what Broken Sword 2.5 actually is: a game made by fans of the Broken Sword franchise. To make this game, the team of fans – who call themselves mindFactory – received no funding at all and even had to throw in money of their own at several points to be able to buy all the necessary programs for developing their game. But they did not set off without any help at all: Revolution Software gave mindFactory the ‘all clear’ sign very soon after they learned of the plans from the German fans (which is a very big deal in the gaming industry; most fan games end up being cancelled, because the developers of the official games refuse to give permission for an unofficial sequel). Revolution went even further: the British developer also sent mindFactory the original sprites of Broken Sword protagonist George Stobbart. Other than that, mindFactory received no help whatsoever. Apart from a lot of support from all the fans who learned of the project, of course. But let us get on to the game itself.
BS2.5 takes us back to the good old times, when adventure games were still made in 2D. The development began back when the coming of BS3 wasn’t known yet, but the choice for 2D was also a deliberate one: many fans felt (and still feel) that a real BS game should be in 2D and apparently mindFactory were among those fans.
From the very beginning mindFactory told us that their game couldn’t be compared with the official Broken Sword games, but the similarities between BS2.5 and the first two Broken Sword games are undeniable. First of all of course, the graphics. Many of the original backgrounds of the first two games return in this unofficial sequel, even though all of them are drawn anew again. Likewise, many characters we have come to know in the official 2D-games, make their comeback in this game in an all too familiar look. Of course not nearly everything has been pulled from BS 1 and 2, so a lot of new stuff is in there, but graphics wise everything is drawn in the style that we have come to love.
Although similar in style, the story of BS2.5 is clearly different than those of BS1 and BS2. It is a good story and it does fit into the Broken Sword universe, but it just doesn’t match up to the story depth of the other two games. These two games did of course have a team of professionals working on them fulltime, instead of a lot of fans who had never made a game like this before, spending all their spare time on a project like this. Nevertheless, a lot of the puzzles are easy to solve and there are very few points in the game where you’ll actually get stuck. In general this is a good thing, but the fans of Broken Sword 1 and 2 have come to get used to the high standards of those two games.
The sound is different as well. Although mindFactory have gone through a lot of trouble to get the original voice of George Stobbart for the German version of the game, and have succeeded in getting some very good actors for the other voices, many things simply don’t feel like Broken Sword. George’s dialogues with others lack the typical witty and sarcastic tone that we have come to love about our American patent lawyer. Still, the voices in the game are very good and they really add to the fun of the game. The same can be said for the music, although to a lesser degree. Again it is not the music that is so typical for Broken Sword 1 and 2, but it does fit very well into the game and certainly is better than a lot of music in other adventure games.
The controls of the game are, not surprisingly, very similar to those of the first two Broken Sword games. And let’s face it: why would mindFactory change something that has worked very well for those two games? Controls are logical and pixle hunting is kept to a minimum, so you will not get frustrated on that part of the game. Like the controls, the inventory system is left unchanged, which again is a good thing.
A last point worth mentioning is the amount of comebacks. Many characters that we have met in the first two games make their appearance in this game as well. To a certain degree this is fun, but some of the rentrees are so farfetched that the characters themselves lose their credibility. Although it is understandable why fans would love to see many of the original characters back again in this game, it is now simply too much. The story doesn’t really need all the characters and it sometimes feels like they have been dragged into the story rather than that the story has included those characters.
MindFactory told us not to compare the game with the original first two Broken Sword games and they are right; the game isn’t as good as those two games. The fact however, that you automatically do compare their game with the official ones, is a big compliment to the development team. True, the game’s story, dialogues and puzzles aren’t as good as those of the original games, but the game is highly entertaining and does give you that feeling of nostalgia; to once again be the two-dimensional George Stobbart and guide this wonderful character through a world of secrets, conspiracies and dangers. The voices and music in the game are an important factor in recreating that feeling. If Revolution Software would ever decide to make another 2D Broken Sword game and need to hire people, they need not look further.
T Wallis | Sunday 25th of April 2010 03:08:32 PM
I have played some of this game and have been very impressed so far. It's good to have another Broken sword game to play, even if it is in 2D and feels like going back into the past.
I wish adventure game fans would stop being dinasours and get into the 21st century. 3D games have been around now for more than 10 years and every other genre has embrassed it. 3D looks MILES better than 2D. Broken Swords 1 & 2 are excellent games and graphically looked brillient in their day but Brokeb Swords 3 & 4 are far better games and through being in 3D graphically blow the first two away.
This is not a critisism of Broken Sword 2.5 as this is an excellent game and as a fan made game I wouldn't expect it to be in 3D. For me it captures the feel of Broken Sword really well and I thoroughly recommend it.
Bodo | Monday 31st of May 2010 07:36:28 AM
One of the best games I have ever played. There are literally thousands of games out there but too few are so easy to use and above all so full of entertainment. I am feeling lucky that I didn’t discover online games when I was still in school, because I wouldn’t never end it!
I found some interesting videos concerning the game, hope you'll find it useful. http://www.videorolls.com/watch/Broken-Sword-2-5-Video-Walkthrough-Part-1
Mlvznwsf | Thursday 15th of July 2010 07:45:17 AM
Kat | Sunday 01st of August 2010 07:18:36 PM
It's an amazing game, 2D made Broken sword, the problem with Revolution is that when they spent all their time on the 3D work, the story suffered, and I mean really suffered, they were an embarrasment to the first two. I like that there are still people out there who realise that Graphics don't make a game, Story and Heart does.