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Broken Sword: The Smoking Mirror (Windows)

82
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.0
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Infernos (6118)
Written on  :  Jan 24, 2014
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars

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Summary

Rushed sequel, fails to live up to the first game

The Good

As this game uses the same game engine as its predecessor the graphics are as beautiful as ever, plus the credits even have a song with lyrics now. There are some technical improvements to the interface, for example, you can now jump to locations by double clicking on an exit.

The puzzles, for the most part, are straightforward and logical. You won't find anything similar to the infamous goat puzzle from the first game. The big difference to the first game, is that in Smoking Mirror the player has the opportunity to control two characters at different times. And even though it's nothing special like, say, Maniac Mansion, you just play one chapter with George another with Nico, it's still a nice diversion.

There's still plenty of interesting characters you'll meet along the way. Plus you'll also run into a few old faces from the first game like the American tourists Duane and Pearl, and get to find out what happened to Sergeant Moue.

The Bad

After the Templar grand plot in the first game, here the story feels rather cliche - bad guy trying to resurrect evil god and prevent others from stopping him. And that's a shame because the Mayans are just as an interesting subject as the Knights Templar but here it's wasted with the rather thin plot this game has.

The story is not nearly as well-conceived nor executed. There's one major event near the end that takes place totally off screen and isn't explained or even showed in a cutscene at all. But seeing as this game was released just one year after the original it's easy to suspect why production was rushed and major scenes were dropped.

It starts out rather dull despite beginning the game strapped into a chair guarded by a deadly spider. Unlike the first game, it failed to pull me in right at the start. Though it does get significantly more interesting from there one, that is once you get to Quaramonte and the Caribbean. But still, compared to the first game there isn't nearly enough location variety. Also the first one had an abundance of interesting and funny characters, here there's only maybe a dozen, there's also way less conversations (which to some might be a blessing though).

This game is also more linear than the original. There's no map and in only one area you have more than one choice about where to go next. You also no longer can ask everyone about every item you're carrying, only a selected few. If you try to ask about the others, the main character will just say: "I don't think he/she would be interested in that". Why not? For me that was one of the numerous strong points in the original, where you could, for example, show plaster to a museum guard and get some snarky response from him.

I don't know what is it with mazes in adventure games but there's one here as well. Even though the Zombie Island maze is not nearly annoying as the one in the third Kyrandia game it still felt unnecessary. The Mayan setting feels wasted on the puzzles as well, with only the last 2 puzzles right at the end happening in the Mayan temple. However the problem is that they don't gel at all with the pacing of the game by that time. Oh don't mind me while I do some wheel & lever puzzles, the villain will just have to wait resurrecting that evil god.

The Bottom Line

As expected the first one was a tough act to follow, as a result the second Broken Sword game doesn't really pull it off. In fact, I would say it's not even close, however Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror is still a solid game with plenty of style and character, well worth checking out if you like adventure games.