Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon

Review

posted 1/19/2004 by Randy Kalista
other articles by Randy Kalista
One Page Platforms: PC
There is a tattered and largely forgotten card residing in my wallet. As a reward for a dubious afternoon make-out session with Resuscitation Annie, the American Heart Association handed me a CPR card. I could officially save lives! Perhaps hundreds of them! I was already a bonafide hero before leaving the classroom that day….

That card expired three years ago and, along with it, the countless life-breathing adventures I’d planned on having. Thankfully, Revolution Software is still in the business of breathing life into adventure gaming.

Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon is the third installment of the acclaimed Broken Sword series. The photogenic duo of George Stobbart and Nico Collard are once again spanning the globe, National Geographic-style. This time they’re gathering clues and puzzle-solving their way after the Voynich Manuscript (a real-world document that currently resides, undeciphered, in a Yale University library.) Donning a major visual upgrade, The Sleeping Dragon makes the leap to 3D and dismisses the cartoon animation of the previous two Broken Sword installments. And, acknowledging the rumor that point-and-click adventure gaming is dead, Revolution completely did away with any and all mouse controls.

The intro cinematic lowers itself onto the dark, gargoyle-perched rooftops of Prague. We’re lured inside into a stone and candlelit church, facing a bearded priest with gaunt features and a heavy brow. Two hooded acolytes humble themselves before him as his triumphal voice booms, “It has begun!” Their allegiance to their mission is sworn in, then the dark priest further warns: “The price of failure is Armageddon.”

A dual-prop cargo plane swoops low over the Congo. We find half of our heroic pair, George, in the passenger seat swapping guy talk with a beer-swilling Aussie pilot. Flying out to meet a client, George hands over a slightly jaded reminiscing of his ex-romantic interest, Nico. A freak electrical storm hits out of nowhere and takes out both prop engines. “You better strap yourself in, George!” as the plane swerves down into an unknown part of the jungle.

We’re then briefly introduced to a pudgy computer hacker, complete with thick spectacles and bad acne. He’s nose-to-screen, deciphering the enigmatic Voynich Manuscript when a knock at the door interrupts. Expecting a visit from a French newspaper journalist (Nico) he instead finds himself on the wrong end of a revolver aimed at his temple. The hacker’s fears are 100 percent confirmed: they are out to kill him.

With your hands fully engaged on the keyboard, our first episode unfolds in the shoes of George Stobbart: patent lawyer by day, unwitting lady-charmer by night. He’s seated behind the pilot’s cabin, a tiny white light shining off of the seatbelt buckle, the plane crash not enough to disrupt his good hair day.

This is where my muscle-memory is instinctively reaching for the mouse--in a game where no mouse commands exist. I experience an emotion closely related to panic. I grab the instruction manual.
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