Broken Sword, Directors Cut
Many have commented on this addition to classic games. For every comment there are several questions and some complaints. Curiosity got the better of me and I plunked down some coin to see what the noise was about. Here is my not so humble opinion.
The question is what does this Director’s Cut add or take away from the original classic? The change hits you at once. The opening we are all familiar with, “Paris in the fall”, has been replaced with a new intro. It is similar but leads you to an introduction of Nico instead of George. She was sent by her boss to get a story about a murder that happened prior to the clown encountered by George. There are three scenes featuring Nico. First at the victim’s home where she investigates a murder. That leads into a second scene and location where she follows with further investigation. This is at the beginning of chapter one before George is introduced. There are a couple of rather difficult puzzles she solves and are sure to challenge many of you. After two scenes with Nico an introduction cut scene leads you to George where the first game began. It is similar to the original. You will notice a difference as George’s interaction with the waitress is shorter. These scene additions help to flesh out Nico’s character providing a logical answer to why she showed up to cover the story as she did in the initial game. It is a positive addition worth playing. As most of you recall in the first offering Nico did nothing but sit at her table being a foil for George. The complaint of cropping out the “Paris in the fall” line from the opening is nothing more than a minor lament. I swear some people live to complain over insignificant items as if angst is their life's ambition. The two cut scenes used to introduce both characters are well done and a worthy replacement. The third additional scene with Nico is in chapter two after you complete George’s trip to Ireland. In regard to help the use of hints at UHS can guide you through the new scenes while the rest of the game remains true to the original and an old walk though can be used. But there are some minor variations.
Game play follows the original with a few variations though you will notice some minor changes in actions taken. For instance when George was required to act quickly the action takes place in cut scenes done automatically for you. No need to quickly push the totem pole. Scenes are pretty much the same and you will notice no difference with voice acting. There was a mention in the UHS hints where use of Nico’s phone is unavailable to George as is the one by the workman’s hole. They reported you have to use the police station phone. That is incorrect only Nico’s phone is not usable, the workman’s remains available. The game remains point and click with no timed puzzles. There is also a hint feature that you utilize by clicking a question mark on the lower right of your screen. Clues are offered guiding you to what you can try next. Your character will not leave an area if you have not done everything you need to accomplish. Yes that is linear but it beats running all over the place trying to find what or where you missed something.
There have been questions about graphics which I found to be better than the initial game. They added pop up still photos of characters during conversations similar to the old Gabriel Knight 1 style. The renditions are quite good and in spite of some sniping I’ve read they do add to the game. Another question raised was about window sizing and issues with wide screen monitors. I have a large screen flat panel, not wide screen, the game played fine and looked good in full screen. You find the setting by starting the game, selecting OPTIONS, then SCREEN RESOLUTION. You get three choices, FULL SCREEN, ORIGINAL or AUGMENTED. Full screen gives you exactly that on a non wide screen monitor. Original gives you a box much like you see in Dosbox. Augmented leaves a small border around the screen about an inch wide. Not sure of the purpose for that one unless it is the solution for wide screen monitors to help retain the aspect ratio while providing a fuller screen. For the most part the mechanics are the same with a few exceptions. In this version you drag your inventory item from the box onto where you wish to use it. The cursor does not offer the same icon shapes as in the original and the worthless manual is no help. More on that later. The audio is problematic. Either I received a faulty download or a bad install or it is a defect. If I decide to download again and reinstall to check this out I will update. During the conversations often parts of the spoken words were dropped off. It is only a minor irritant as they are written out for you in subtitles.
The issue of saves revealed one of the downsides of this version. The game does not recognize saved games made in the original game. They are not transferable. But even worse instead of unlimited saves, you are allowed only eleven save slots numbered 000 through 010. The manual issue may be limited to the GOG release I do not know if this is the case with other download sites. The manual included with the GOG version is actually the one made for the original game and not adjusted to reflect the version of the game they sold you. It is rather neglectful to remake a game and provide a manual that does not reflect the changes the developer made. The manual is clearly identified at the download site as the original game manual. Don’t expect it to be useful regarding the changes such as save instructions. The original manual instructs you to utilize a scroll bar to access another page of blank save slots if all slots are filled on page one. Perhaps there was a method to access another page but I could not locate it. If you fill up your allotted number of save slots copy and paste them elsewhere for safe keeping then delete all but the current one from the game. This will allow you ten empty slots to use so you don’t have to over write and lose saves you may want to keep. There is a blinking dot of light to signify hot spots. In a few places the light continued to blink after you were done with the spot. That caused continued examining even though there was no need. Most of the time the blinking ceased when your interaction was finished. The cursor displays differently in the new game play so the old manual will only confuse you when describing those icons you no longer see. The manual choice was a pretty sloppy decision by whoever made it.
What is the final verdict? The initial game is a classic on many all time best lists. They did add to the original without damaging the characters, story or hinder game play. The graphics are an improvement over the original. The developers stayed true to the graphics and same style enhancing them for newer computers. For you Nico fans this version gives you three scenes to explore with her you did not have before. You also learn something about her background any why she arrived at the café to interact with George. There are also new toys for Nico to play with in her apartment. She has a stereo you can turn on and off and listen to. There is an answering machine you should check a couple of times. You also avoid tweaking the old game to get it to run on newer systems. In other words you give up nothing and gain additional scenes worth playing with better graphics. I would say you should go get it, especially this week when it cost less than five bucks without DRM. Which means you can burn the file to a cd and install it wherever and whenever you want without permission or phoning home. A great game with worthy additions that far offset some minor annoyances. For the price it is well worth your investment.