Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon
Our first peek at the latest in the million-selling adventure game series
It's been a long time coming, but the third installment in the Broken Sword series was finally unveiled at a packed press conference during this year's ECTS. Revolution boss Charles Cecil was on hand to talk about the new game, subtitled The Sleeping Dragon, and to show us a brief trailer featuring some early in-game footage and cinematic sequences.
Point And Click Is Dead
Charles began his introduction with the controversial statement that "the point and click adventure game is dead, long live the adventure game". Revolution are touting The Sleeping Dragon as a .. er .. revolution for the genre, but although much has changed, it's still very much Broken Sword at heart, from the not-quite-realistic graphical style to the gameplay underlying it all.
Once again you will be following the action-packed lives of George Stobbard (American tourist turned adventurer) and Nico Collard (sexy French photo-journalist) as they fly around the world to all manner of exotic locations. This time the game begins with George on his way to meet the inventor of a purported perpetual motion device, and as you would expect he's soon thrown into a conspiracy-laden storyline involving the Templars and a dangerous force known as the Sleeping Dragon. By drawing on elements from both the first and second games, the idea is to tie up some loose ends and bring the trilogy full circle.
Indeed, some of the changes which Revolution have made for the third game in the series were perhaps partly inspired by their work on a GameBoy Advance version of the original Broken Sword. For obvious reasons, this handheld version replaced the old point and click interface with a direct control method, and this is something that Charles told us he wished he'd done for the earlier PlayStation port as well. Meanwhile the new 3D game engine allows you to roam more freely, so that instead of wandering around a painted backdrop looking for the exit point to take you to the next location, you'll be able to walk, run, climb, sneak and jump around the world, with dramatic camera angles to highlight your surroundings. This view will switch to a more traditional over-the-shoulder camera when you're most likely to need it, such as when a guard is nearby.
Still An Adventure
All of which was starting to sound a little Tomb Raider-ish, but Charles was quick to allay our fears, describing the action-adventure genre as generally consisting of action games with a story tacked on. He also mentioned that there won't be any projectile weapons in The Sleeping Dragon, so there shouldn't be any run and gun nonsense.
Instead, Broken Sword will feature all the character interaction and puzzle solving we've come to expect from the series, but revamped and streamlined for a console-friendly interface. Four icons in the bottom right corner of the screen (equating to the four face buttons on a typical joypad) will allow players to interact with objects and people, whether that's by picking up and examining an item or starting a conversation with a character.
The change of perspective and controls will also allow for a wider range of puzzles and obstacles to overcome, rather than relying entirely on the tired old point and click standard of using and combining various items from your inventory. This freedom may leave some people perplexed, and the good news is that if you get stuck on a particular puzzle it won't mean the end of the game or resorting to a walkthrough. Charles said that the puzzles should be there "to help players enjoy the game, not to frustrate them", and suggested that the game may tell you the solution (or at least give you a hint) if you become bogged down for too long. There was also the promise of multiple approaches to some tasks and a more non-linear feel to the proceedings.
Revolution are understandably enthusiastic about The Sleeping Dragon, with Charles Cecil describing it as "the game I've always wanted to write". Full production on the game only began about six months ago, so we're still at a very early stage in development, but the brief glimpse that the trailer gave us was enough to get us excited.
Expect to see The Sleeping Dragon awakening on PC and PlayStation 2 at least towards the end of next year, with GameCube and Xbox versions also planned.