By Marty Mulrooney
Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror is a point-and-click adventure game that was originally released on PC in 1997 by Revolution Software. Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror – Remastered takes the original game and updates it to run on new operating systems, as well as adding character portraits drawn by legendary English comic book artist Dave Gibbons.
Broken Sword II opens with our hero George Stobbart – once again voiced by the highly talented Rolf Saxon – reuniting with his girlfriend Nicole Collard after a six month break away from Paris. However, their reunion doesn’t last long. Upon his return, Nico asks George to accompany her to visit an archaeologist, Professor Oubier, who can perhaps tell them more about a mysterious Mayan stone that has recently came into her possession whilst researching a story. It soon turns out that the meeting is a trap – Nico is kidnapped by two Central Americans and George is left tied to a chair with a poisonous spider in a burning room. Although it can’t quite match the classic opening of the original game, this is still an exciting and gripping introduction.
George eventually escapes and sets out to rescue Nico. Together, they will once again travel the world, this time visiting Central America, London and the Caribbean. Whereas the first game dealt with the Knight’s Templar, Broken Sword II takes a different approach, focusing instead upon the god Tezcatlipoca, trapped inside a mirror by Mayan shamans hundreds of years before. Upon release, many critics and fans felt that Broken Sword II wasn’t as strong narrative-wise as the original game. However, time has certainly been kind to this superb sequel. Although in truth it doesn’t quite match up to The Shadow of the Templars, it is still a fantastic adventure game in its own right. In many ways it could be considered an underrated game within the genre, which is why I am delighted that the Remastered version is now widely and readily available.
The Remastered version of Broken Sword II wisely sidesteps the issues inherent in Broken Sword: Shadow Of The Templars – The Director’s Cut. The original release of the game has been left entirely intact and no new scenes have been added. Instead, the changes are small in scope and respectful: the menus have been upgraded, an unlockable comic book has been added and conversations are now accompanied by stylised character portraits and captions. The sprites used in 1997 didn’t always give a clear idea of what the characters looked like: it is great fun to replay the game in 2011 and see even the most minor characters up-close and personal.
Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror is slightly less deep and serious than its predecessor. No doubt this observation is exaggerated by the bright, colourful locations – which nonetheless offer a pleasant change of setting from the cold streets of Paris in the Fall. Yet within the exceptionally strong writing – which is on the surface more comedic than anything else – lies many surprises for the observant adventurer. One rather brilliant and somewhat unsettling story thread involves a young girl named Emily Ketch – fans of the game will know exactly what plot point I am talking about! Broken Sword II tells a strong story with memorable characters – George and Nico are quite simply titans of the genre and it is always a pleasure to be in their company.
Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror – Remastered takes a great adventure game and faithfully updates it for a modern audience. New fans will be born whilst old fans revisit a classic from their bygone adventure gaming days. This is a sequel that has it all: laughs, danger, drama, romance… and a lucky lump of coal. What’s more, the puzzles have held up rather well over the intervening years, as have the graphics and sound. In actual fact, I don’t have a bad thing to say about this new release – the only thing that holds Broken Sword II slightly back is the looming shadow cast by its admittedly superior forefather. Hopefully this Remastered version of Broken Sword II can help players finally look past that comparison and simply enjoy what is surely now a classic in and of itself. Highly recommended.
9.5 OUT OF 10