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SummaryWow, there's actually a sword in this game
The GoodThe Sleeping Dragon is the third game of the successful Broken Sword series. It is a graphic adventure just like the first two games, but the game is combined with some action sequences, making this game better than the first two.
Vernon Blier, a young hacker, contacts Nico and tells her that he has decoded a document known as the Voynich Manuscript, which explains why many earthquakes have been occurring lately. And because of this, he believes that his life is now in danger. It turns out that he is right, because just before Nico enters his apartment, he is shot dead by someone. Now, the previous Broken Sword games have revolved around real-life ancient documents, but I believe that the Voynich Manuscript has nothing to do with earthquakes. Find out yourself by looking Voynich Manuscript up on Wikipedia and see how many instances of “earthquake” there is.
As I have just mentioned before, the game is entirely in 3D, and several locations that you visit such as the Congo, Paris, and Glastonbury are breathtaking. The buildings are well designed, with structures looking like they have been constructed a long time ago. I enjoyed walking around and seeing what's in each location, and talking to people along the way. The characters are well-drawn, especially George and Nico, as well as Beatrice, Blier's girlfriend, who just couldn't be any more sexier.
I like how the game gives you the ability to switch between the two characters; not at the same time, but on occasions. Like other games that I have played such as the last two games of the Gabriel Knight series, one character doesn't have to accomplish tasks that will help the other. George and Nico work independently as long as they are not together. Between the two characters, I found George's tasks rather interesting to accomplish.
You navigate George or Nico around and perform their actions only using the keyboard, but the controls are easy to learn. The arrow keys are used for walking around. I am familiar with this since I previously played Simon the Sorcerer 3D and Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, with both games using the arrow keys for movement. The four action buttons in the bottom-right of the screen correspond with the W, A, S, and D keys; with the S key being the primary ones. The advantage of using the keyboard is that you can make the characters perform a new set of actions such as ducking, sneaking, climbing ladders, and pushing/pulling crates.
There is quite a bit of humor in the game. There is George's friend Harry (who flies his own plane in the middle of the storm on purpose) and the several disagreements between George and Nico with each other, but my personal favorite is George having to deal with the owner of the Cosmic Fairie - a shop that has nothing to do with fairies or the cosmos – and how said owner wrote a book that steals poetry from their artists.
What good is a Broken Sword game without a bit of suspense? Every once in a while, there is a an action sequence requiring you to tap one of the keys as quickly as you can or you die if you are not fast enough. But those action sequences are nothing compared to what you will experience at the end of the game. I won't tell you what it is, but it involves a sword and a little bit of timing.
Speaking of timing, it is essential to solve some of the puzzles. In (at least) two locations in the game, you need to watch the guards patrolling a particular area and make your move when they reach a certain spot. If you mis-time yourself, it is likely that you will die. But instead of seeing a death screen, the game automatically restores you to the point before your death, allowing you to rectify the situations. This saves you from hitting the Load button then selecting a save point. It is also much quicker this way. But not all the puzzles in the game require exact timing. The developers must have played Countdown and enjoyed the way that you have to get through the catacombs and solve the “wine puzzle” that opens a secret door, because near the middle of the game, that is exactly what you do.
The music is excellent, and it is on par with the first two Broken Sword games. The sound effects add to the realism of the game. You get to hear some background noise in every location that add atmosphere. For example, Nico browses the theater's exterior in Paris, and you can just hear the sound of passing traffic. I enjoyed the soundtrack that plays at the end credits. It is called Love Us by some UK group I don't know the name of, and it sounds much better than Happiness Is Inside Job which plays in Broken Sword II.
There is no disc swapping during the game. All that crap gets done during the installation process. The disc swapping that you did during the first two games gave me a headache as the CD-ROM drive was slow at the time. My current CD/DVD burner is faster now, so I didn't have to wait long for the next scene to load. I was halfway through the game then the CDs refuse to work for no reason, so I downloaded it via Steam. Ahh.. the joys of content delivery services.
The BadThe Sleeping Dragon uses fixed-camera angles, which I found quite annoying. When I get the characters to move in a certain direction to the point where they get close to the edge of the screen, the camera angle suddenly changes, leading to confusion about which way to go. It would have been nice if the game allowed you to adjust camera angles.
It would also been nice if the game allowed you to put proper, meaningful descriptions for save games rather than “Congo 1”, “Glastonbury 2”, “Paris 3”, etc. And you can't even store as many save games as you like. I didn't want to overwrite my earliest saves from the beginning of the game.
The Bottom LineAnyone who has already played the first two Broken Sword games may find it annoying that The Sleeping Dragon is only played with the keyboard. I, on the other hand, have played Simon3D, so I am used to the keyboard-only configuration. The game is entirely in 3D, and everything in the game looks amazing, ranging from the characters themselves to the locations, as well as the ancient buildings that lie within them. During the game, you get to hear real-life sound effects as you walk around. As well as the adventuring aspect of the game, there are some action sequences requiring quick reflexes to get through them.
Maybe the characters on the box cover wasn't a good move. The two characters on the front cover look nothing like George and Nico respectively, and on the back cover, the character on the right doesn't look like George's arch-nemesis – he actually looks more like Darkman. If only the person responsible for creating the covers actually drew properly.