Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror - Remastered Review
In the 1990s, adventure games were as popular as first-person shooters are today, and the PC was the undeniable king of the genre. Though point-and-click adventures were released on consoles, controllers just couldn’t replicate the ease of using of the mouse and cursor as far as gameplay was concerned. Recently, with the genre seeing a resurgence in popularity, other platforms have emerged as fitting for adventure games, in particular the Wii, DS, iPhone, and iPad. After the 1996 title Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars was released in the form of a Director’s Cut on all of the aforementioned systems, a rerelease of the sequel seemed likely. Surely enough, in December 2010, Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror – Remastered came out for the iPhone and iPad, once again utilizing the touch screen of the Apple devices to make the point-and-click gameplay feel as intuitive as it did with a mouse and cursor in 1997.
After the events of The Shadow of the Templars, adventurer George Stobbart briefly returned to the United States, and is back in Paris at the start of The Smoking Mirror to reunite with Nico, his lady love. Unfortunately, she doesn’t appear to be returning his affections; even worse, they are almost immediately attacked, and Nico is kidnapped. The ensuing adventure once again takes them around the world as they attempt to unravel centuries-old mysteries, deal with shady characters, and collect random items in hopes of finding some use for them.
The gameplay is exactly what would be expected of a point-and-click adventure. The player spends most of the game controlling George, though there are some sections with Nico as well. The plot progresses through puzzle-solving and dialogue choices, and though the game isn’t as zany as some of the more prominent adventure games of the 90s, it still takes some imagination to solve many of the puzzles. There is also a certain degree of danger, as it is possible for the main character to be killed in at least once instance, though these occurrences are rare (much like in Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis). Still, it’s probably a good idea to save often.
Tapping on any part of the screen highlights items that can be interacted with and people that can converse, and icons alert the player of what can be used or picked up. Accessing the inventory is also as simple as touching the icon onscreen, and pressing down on the thing to be taken out, be it a worm, a lucky piece of coal, or a pair of sexy underwear. Again, tapping is used to walk around any environment. The control scheme is simple, like that of any game in this genre, but it works. There were a few instances when the game didn’t respond as quickly as it should have, but for the most part, The Smoking Mirror ran smoothly, without any significant glitches.
Among the most impressive things about the Broken Sword series are its animated cut scenes, which look fantastic on the iPad. The animation itself is a bit dated, but it also brings a sense of nostalgia, reminiscent of cartoons and animated movies of the same time period. The voice acting is solid, and the game sounds great on the iPad. The remastered version of The Smoking Mirror is compatible with both the iPad and iPhone, and though the game can look a bit stretched and blurry at times on the iPad, the bigger screen is preferable for gameplay purposes. At $6.99, it’s a bit high in price for a game on the App Store, but costs considerably less than the Wii and DS versions of The Shadow of the Templars that were released in 2009, and they were definitely worth purchasing.
For fans of adventure games, this is a golden age; between the new titles and the re-releases of old classics, there is no shortage of point-and-click games to play. Those who missed out on the Broken Sword series the first time around definitely shouldn’t make the same mistake again, and the $6.99 price tag shouldn’t be a deterrent for those who love the clever puzzles and quirky gameplay for which the genre is known. The iPad and iPhone may not be quite the gaming machines Apple wants them to be, but this is one format perfectly suited for touch screens and The Smoking Mirror is a great adventure just waiting to be explored.