Retro Review: Broken Sword 3 The Sleeping Dragon (PC/PS2/Xbox)

Retro-Review-Broken-Sword-3-The-Sleeping-Dragon-PC-PlayStation-2-Microsoft-XboxHaving recently completed the first two games in the Broken Sword series, I decided to re-join George and Nicole for their next adventure. Was it an exciting adventure across the globe or a miserable wet weekend in a run-down seaside town?

The Broken Sword series is often revered as being some of the best games in the point and click genre, widely ported to many consoles and systems, including an impressive conversion to the GBA. The original title has seen a resurgence recently, with a new directors cut version release on the Wii and DS, and both BS1+BS2 getting the same directors cut treatment for PC and iPad/iphone devices. 

The adventure gaming scene in 2003 was totally different to the mid 90’s. Console gaming was even stronger in 2003, with the PS2 and Xbox were fighting it out for top spot and the games market was beginning to be flooded with FPS, sports and Tomb Raider style titles. Needless to say there was little interest in point and click gaming in both the PC and Console market.

In my opinion, this point may have weighed heavily on the developers minds when making Broken Sword 3, because the first thing you notice about this title, especially on the PC, is the 3D camera viewpoints and the horrible controls. The old 2D animated charm with a point and click interface is gone, replaced with a 3D environments, 3D characters and quirky control system, the cursor keys move your character around the screen and the W,A,S and D keys are used for different actions. I only managed to play the first 10 minutes using the system and promptly connected a PS2 controller on USB adapter and reconfigured it for a controller, playing with a controller was a vast improvement.

Bringing me nicely on to my next point, BS3 was released on PC, PS2 and Xbox. With the console audience in mind, a lot of the puzzles focus on the new control system, allowing your controlled character to perform basic platform sections and push and pull objects. I lost count of the number of crate puzzles I had to complete and combine item A+B to make C which you can then use to complete a puzzle. There is also some wild stabs at platforming and stealth sections, whilst this does break up the gameplay, it also leads to some very frustrating moments, for example, there was a puzzle where you needed to follow a highlighted route across a patterned floor, this would have been simple if the camera angles did not change when entering a new section, thus altering the key alignment and making you walk off the route and killing George, leading you to reload and start again from your last save point. More curiously was the addition of some Quick Time Events, where a short sequence is played out on the screen and you need to press to appropriate button to avoid death, again a nice distraction, but generally did not anything to the overall game or story.

However, BS3 does have some redeeming values. The storyline in BS3 is actually very good, it follows on nicely from the storyline of BS1 and many friendly faces and locations return from that game. Rolf Saxon returns to do the voice of George Stobbart and Sarah Crook does an excellent job voicing Nicole Collard. Despite the unusual controls the actual interface is clean and simple, allowing lots of room on the screen to see the action. There are also lots of nods, to items, locations and various pieces of the BS series, my favourite part was exploring Nico’s apartment and coming across a red clown’s nose, and also re-encountering a familiar Parisian workmen with George and talking about a horse racing tip and sewers.

The story and plot do chug along at a good pace, and it took me roughly around 10 hours to complete the game, as previously stated the game play can be disrupted by stealth sections and crate puzzles this is very apparent towards the end, when you have to break into a castle in Prague, it was very frustrating and a broken experience in general. I will not ruin the end of the game for people who have not played it, but the final scene is incredibly stupid and totally out of context for a BS game, compared the previous two games, it makes you wonder what the developers were taking when they came up with the ending to BS3.

In summary, this game was clearly intended for the console gamer and it is a mesh of Tomb Raider style adventuring and classic puzzle solving gameplay, it is plagued by bad camera angles, repetitive puzzles and stealth sections and a ridiculous ending. It is however worth playing for fans of the series, the story line is solid and links together many pieces of the Broken Sword lineage.

Broken Sword 3: The Sleeping Dragon Trailer

Broken Sword 3: The Sleeping Dragon Gameplay Video

Last Updated ( 28 November 2011 )  

Ed Hale

Tall Handsome Male Seeks.....Ooops sorry wrong type of description. For the majority of the world who do not know me already, I am a seasoned Championship Manager addict who grew up on a diet of Amiga and PC classics. Have had flirtations with console and handheld gaming but always return to the warm comfort of the PC for a good time. Have occasionally done some writing for RetroCollect but always seem to find something new and shiny to distract myself, a legion of loyal subjects and praises might persuade me to keep churning out new content.

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(Link to this comment) chocklo 2011-11-28 21:16
Gotta say, I'm a real fan of the Broken Sword series. I think I've owned and played 1 and 2 on every single format. When I first loaded up 3 I was a little suspicious of the gameplay. The 'finding the right ledges' part to get to Cholmondley was reminiscent of Tomb Raider. But, as the story panned out, the trademark characters, story and humour was definitely still there - to my relief. The camera angles were a bit dodgy at times (and I spent ages before I located the wig), but all in all - a decent 3rd installment.

I haven't played the fourth one but it doesn't half get panned!

Totally agree about the ending - it seemed a bit like they were struggling to tie things up so they thought - "f*ck it, let's just do that and call it a day, me eyes are hurting"

Nice review Ed!
(Link to this comment) leightonandoff 2011-11-28 21:42
I'm also a big fan of Broken Sword 1 & 2.
I absolutely hated this though. The story, (except for the ending), characters & dialogue was OK, but it just felt so clunky and forced compared to the earlier pair.
And all the box puzzles, so many box puzzles, I HATE BOX PUZZLES!!
The end of the game was two box puzzles in a row, followed by the stupidest finale ever (IMO).
Good review, absolutely terrible game.
(Link to this comment) ironmaidenrule 2011-11-28 23:31
Many thanks for the comments guys, don't usually get feedback and opinions on my articles, so it is really appreciated. Glad I am not the only one who detests the ending in BS3, might be tempted to see what BS4 has to offer.
(Link to this comment) JoeMD 2011-11-29 10:54
BS3 was actually the first I played in the series, and I have it for PC. I remember really enjoying the game and while I agree that the keyboard controls are a little rubbish, I actually didn't mind the other aspects at all. Of the first three games (I've not played the 4th yet) I feel the 2nd is the weaker. I know many will disagree, but I found myself getting bored of it and never completing it. The remake of the original for DS is brilliant though,

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