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Secrets of the Ark: A Broken Sword Game (Windows)

76
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.7
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  *Katakis* (37809)
Written on  :  Apr 23, 2012
Rating  :  4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars
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Summary

The fourth (and final?) game in the Broken Sword series

The Good

This is the fourth game in the Broken Sword series. The previous games have some historical significance to them. The first one, for example, revolves around the Knights Templar. If you haven't played those games, then it's safe to assume that this game doesn't follow on from the third game.

If you have played the previous ones, however, then you'll be familiar with George Stobbart and Nico Collard, who worked together in the past. In this game, another woman by the name of Anna Maria enters his life, asking for help escaping the goons who are trying to kill her for a manuscript that reveals the location of the Arc. Eventually, she gets kidnapped, and it is up to George and Nico to find the manuscript and decode it to find its location.

When I first was able to control George, I noticed that the game made the transition to 3D. I tend to ignore the 3D aspect of games and just focus on the gameplay. The camera follows your character wherever they goes. Some of the locations you visit in the game, including Rome and Istanbul, have breathtaking environments.

Another thing that got my attention is the point-and-click interface. With its absence in The Sleeping Dragon, I found it difficult memorizing the keyboard shortcuts when it comes to doing certain tasks. I was glad, then, to see the welcome return of the interface. It's easy to control George or Nico, just like you did in the first two games, and you won't have to memorize the keyboard shortcuts (because there isn't any).

There are many interesting characters in the game. Right at the start of the game, a young girl named Anna Maria enters George's life and asks for his help after a group of men threaten to kill her. She is eventually kidnapped and George discovers that she was a nun. You also deal with Virgil, George's assistant, who refuses to help George unless he fixes his MP3 player. You deal with Peter who hangs around Rome, as well as the other nuns working in the wafer factory.

The opening sequence demonstrates just how powerful the weapon George and Nico are seeking is, with Moses using it on someone. There are cut-scenes like this throughout the game, and they further add depth to the story.

Like the previous games in the Broken Sword series, both your characters can perform a variety of moves, including shimmering along ledges and jumping across gaps. A new move that I like is the ability to run. This saves you a lot of time, especially when you have to do something under a strict time limit.

There is some humor in the game, and some of it is George and Nico picking on each other. George has to do outrageous things wherever he goes just to enter a building. One thing I had to laugh at was George posing as a German health inspector in the wafer factory. I also like when he has to deal with the Swiss guards in the factory.

In BS4, puzzles come in three forms. The first two forms are typical of the series, with some involving you pushing and pulling crates, while others have you pressing a series of buttons a number of times and in the right sequence. The third form that I found challenging is using George's PDA to hack into security systems, because you have to reach the target computer without hitting any security devices along the way.

The music in the game blends well with the type of situation that your characters are in. At the start of the game, dramatic music is heard to indicate that George and Anna Maria are in danger. Each location you visit contain little pieces of music that is relevant to the place.

The Bad

BS4 demands hefty system requirements, but as I found out, not even my Dell XPS 630i could run it. The game's performance dropped like a rock, and just watching a cut-scene or playing the game was unbearable. After doing some research, I found out that BS4 had a problem with multiple cores, so I limited the cores to just one and the game worked fine after that. Perhaps THQ should have addressed this issue before making the distribution.

The Bottom Line

If you have enjoyed the previous Broken Sword games, then you'll enjoy BS4. It is a point-and-click adventure game not unlike the first two Broken Sword games. To get through the game, researching on historical events is essential both to find clues and to open up new areas in the game. The puzzles that were present in the previous games are still here. The music blends in well with what you are doing, and there are some humor thrown into the mix. If you are about to play BS4, then be warned: you may need to limit the number of cores in your system, otherwise the game will be unplayable.