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Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror
Score: 92%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Crave
Developer: Revolution
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure

Graphics & Sound:
The graphics in Broken Sword II are classically cartoony, in the theme of those old classics, Willy Beamish and other such Sierra gems of the early 90s. Hand-drawn rooms matched with lively animated characters jaunting around the rooms bring back memories of hours spent in front of the computer screen, pointing and clicking away. The full motion videos generally consist of game-style graphics, and are suitably Saturday morning cartoonish. The sound is good, with tight musical cues slightly offset by sometimes muffled voice acting. Thankfully, the voice actors' voices aren't obnoxious, so you won't mind hearing our hero throughout the entire game talk about just what's going on.

This is classic adventure gaming at its finest. Grab every item that looks remotely usable, and tons that aren't, then use everything on everything else. You're George Stoddard, a rather mild-mannered chap whose girlfriend gets 'napped at the beginning of the game. Your quest to find her will take you many places, from the starting location of Paris to the ancient Mayan ruins. Each area is exquisitely rendered, making you really feel like your characters are there. The gameplay is strictly adventure-gaming fare -- move the little cursor around the screen, clicking on everything, trying to get Stoddard to pick it all up, and then proceed to use all the items on everything else. Sometimes it's a bit of pixel-hunting to see what you're trying to do, but the control scheme -- arrow keys for standard movement and holding down L1 or R1 to speed it up -- makes control a snap. The voice acting really adds to the game, as Stoddard is telling the story in the past tense, making the action seem a little reflective. He's funny as hell, too, which is always a plus. If you have a PlayStation Mouse, this is pretty much a computer adventure, but even without one, it's plenty easy to manage. If you're a fan of the classic adventure games, this is definitely one you'll want to play.

Some of the puzzles are devilishly difficult, and some are trivial. That's the way adventure games work, neh? None of them are completely impossible, though, they just take some thought and using random items at times. You'll figure out out sooner or later. Honest.

Game Mechanics:
Although at first the control scheme is sort of odd, after a little bit of acclimation, you'll be able to scoot that cursor around and point and click with ease. The loading times are sometimes annoying, but you get used to it pretty fast, and it's never so long to make you pissed. If you're an adventure game fan, I highly recommend this game -- it's Sierra-style gaming at its best. Broken Sword II is a damned fun romp around the world, with amusing characters and an involving plot.

-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

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