Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror
|Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror|
European cover art
Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror is a point-and-click adventure video game originally released on Microsoft Windows and PlayStation in 1997. It was re-released on Microsoft Windows, OS X and iOS as a remastered edition in 2010 and on Android in 2012. It is the second installment in the Broken Sword series, and the first game in the series that does not follow the Knights Templar storyline. The player assumes the role of George Stobbart, a young American who is an eyewitness to the kidnapping of his girlfriend Nicole Collard.
The game was conceived in 1997 by Revolution. Though serious in tone, The Smoking Mirror incorporates some humour and graphics animated in the style of classic animated films. It was the fourth and last game built with the Virtual Theatre engine, which was used to render the locations of the game's events.
Unlike the first Broken Sword game, which garnered critical acclaim, The Smoking Mirror received mixed to positive reviews, mostly for not living up to its predecessor. Nevertheless, it was a commercial success, selling about one million copies in the mid-1990s. Revolution released a remastered version of the game in 2010, which unlike the original version, received highly favorable reviews from critics.
Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror is a 2D adventure game played from a third-person perspective. Via a point-and-click interface, the player guides protagonist George Stobbart through the game's world and interacts with the environment by selecting from multiple commands, while Nicole Collard is also a playable character in selected portions of the game. The player controls George's movements and actions with a mouse (PC and PlayStation), or a gamepad (PlayStation). Player can collect objects that can be used with either other collectible objects, parts of the scenery, or with other people in order to solve puzzles and progress in the game. George can engage in dialogue with other characters through conversation trees to gain hints of what needs to be done to solve the puzzles or to progress the plot. The player uses a map to travel, and new locations are added to it as the story unfolds. By right clicking on an object, the player gets a description and clues. The player character's death is possible if the player makes a wrong decision.
Six months after the events of The Shadow of the Templars, protagonist George Stobbart and his girlfriend, Nicole Collard, visit an archaeologist named Professor Oubier to learn about a mysterious Mayan stone Nico uncovered while researching a newspaper story. At Oubier's home, they are ambushed by two Central Americans, who kidnap Nico, tie George to a chair and set the building ablaze. George unties himself and puts out the fire. He contacts Andre Lobineau, who reveals that Nico had suspected that something would go wrong and had left the stone with him. Lobineau tells him of a gallery owner who can tell him more about Mayan art. George discovers that Oubier supplies the gallery with Mayan artifacts, which he imports through a company named Condor Transglobal. Following this lead, George finds the two Central Americans who kidnapped Nico. One of them, whose name is later revealed to be Pablo, is shown threatening and berating the other (later revealed to be called Titipoco). George knocks Pablo unconscious and discovers that Condor Transglobal has links with Quaramonte City in Central America. He also frees Titipoco, who had been manacled by Pablo. George finds Nico, who reveals that, while trying to expose a drug ring run by a man named Karzac, she was sent the stone instead, prompting her to arrange the appointment with Oubier.
The two escape the warehouse and retrieve the Mayan stone from Lobineau. Afterwards, they go to Quaramonte City in hopes of finding Condor Transglobal. They find the city under dictatorial rule by 'Madame La Presidente' Grasiento, and learn that the town contains no Condor Transglobal offices. The two meet Professor Oubier, who is talking to the chief of police, Raoul 'The General' Grasiento, about a mysterious chart. George confronts Oubier about his girlfriend's abduction, but the professor claims he knows nothing, and that he has not been in Paris recently. George decides to help a CIA agent, Duane, free a local agitator, Miguel, from jail by distracting General Grasiento. Afterwards, he prepares to detonate the jail wall but is arrested in the process. George gets Duane to tie a rope to the bars and pull the wall down with his truck, alerting General Grasiento. Miguel escapes, and Nico and George flee down river on a boat. However, the boat sinks after being attacked by a helicopter.
George wakes up the next morning on the river bank, and finds a treehouse belonging to a Christian missionary named Father Hubert. Hubert has been nursing Nico back to health, but she has suffered a snakebite and requires special medicine. He takes George to the local Mayan village, as he believes the village Shaman will be able to help. George shows his Mayan stone to the shaman, who explains that, hundreds of years ago, Mayan shamans had trapped the god Tezcatlipoca inside a mirror. However, he was so powerful that he would inevitably escape, so they created three stones that contained the power to keep him imprisoned. Before they could be put in place, they were stolen by explorers: one by a Spanish pirate named Captain Ketch, who hid it in the Caribbean; one by an English ship, which took it to England; and one by Spanish explorers, who took it back to Spain. The third of these stones was in Nico's and George's possession. George returns to the treehouse and cures Nico with medicine from the shaman. Shortly thereafter, the two separate to find the two remaining stones.
Nico tracks a stone down to a museum in London, England, where she encounters but does not recognize Professor Oubier. After he leaves, the stone is discovered to be missing and the museum is locked down. Nico escapes via an abandoned subway station and finds Oubier on a boat in the Thames with Karzac. Nico witnesses Karzac killing Oubier, and then sneaks in, takes the stone and escapes. Meanwhile, George tracks the remaining stone to a small museum in the Caribbean. Following subtle clues left by Captain Ketch, George learns that the stone was left on the nearby "Zombie Island". George explores Zombie Island and finds that a butchered remake of Treasure Island is being filmed there. He poses as a stuntman to gain access to the place where the stone is being kept, but gets captured by Pablo and his men to be used as a sacrifice to Tezcatlipoca. Nico travels back to Quaramonte and saves George; together with Titipoco they enter Tezcatlipoca's pyramid. As they reach the central room, Karzac frees the ancient god there. However, Tezcatlipoca promptly kills Karzac. President Grasiento appears and attacks Titipoco, and their struggle sends them over a cliff. Raoul, realizing that he is expendible to his mother, chooses to save Titipoco. The protagonists place the stones into their respective slots, which causes Tezcatlipoca to be pushed back into the mirror. George and Nico briefly celebrate and the final cut-scene fades into the credits.
Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror was conceived in 1997, by Charles Cecil and Revolution. Charles Cecil was the director and writer of the game; Tony Warriner, David Sykes, Jonathan Howard, Paul Porter, James Long, Patrick Skelton, Chris Rea and Pete Ellacot worked on the software side of the project. Noirin Carmody was the executive producer. The game uses the Virtual Theatre engine, which was previously used for Lure of the Temptress, Beneath a Steel Sky, and Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars.
The artwork for Broken Sword II was developed through a number of stages. Initially pencil drawings were made of characters which were then digitally coloured in, before being cleaned up. The background layouts were produced in a similar way, starting out as pencil designs, and were all drawn by Eoghan Cahill and Neil Breen, who previously worked on the first Broken Sword, working together with Amy Berenz and Lee Taylor. The game's graphics are animated in a style which resembles classic animated films.
The music in the game was composed by Barrington Pheloung, who also composed the music in Shadow of the Templars, with Bob Sekar adding the closing score. Audio features of the game include recorded sound effects, orchestral music and voice acting directed by Edward Hall. While Rolf Saxon returned to voice George Stobbart, a new actress, Jenny Caron Hall, was cast as Nicole Collard. The rest of the credited voice actors in the game are Dennis Chinnery, Stephanie Clive, Jeff Fletcher, Corey Johnson, Chris Miles, Gary Parker, Flaminia Cinque and Leo Wringer.
When considering the project, Charles Cecil played the game again and noticed many issues, including pixilated backgrounds, FMV and audio were of poor quality, and he also felt some dialogue was out of place. He thought all these elements could be addressed and improved in a remastered edition, in which they could add a diary, hint system, and new artwork from Dave Gibbons, which they could offer as an interactive digital comic.
On December 9, 2010, Revolution Software announced the release of Broken Sword: The Smoking Mirror - Remastered on iOS devices, and was released on December 16, 2010. The new features include an exclusive interactive digital comic from Dave Gibbons, fully animated facial expressions, enhanced graphics, high quality music, a context-sensitive hint system, diary, and a Dropbox integration which facilitates a unique cross-platform save-game feature, enabling players to enjoy the same adventure simultaneously on multiple devices. It also featured full Game Center integration – including in-game achievements. The Mac and PC versions followed in early 2011.
Marketing and release
A launch trailer for the iPhone and iPod touch version was also released on Revolution's YouTube channel revolutionbevigilant. On the second day of Apple's 12 Days of Christmas, Broken Sword II - Remastered was made free to download for 24 hours.
The original PC version is available from Sold-Out Software and GOG.com (with purchases of Broken Sword II - Remastered). However, the Remastered version of the game is available from various digital distribution services, including the iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad AppStore, Mac AppStore, Intel AppUp, Steam and GOG.com. Broken Sword II - Remastered is also a part of the Broken Sword Complete package from Mastertronic.
With purchases of Broken Sword II - Remastered on GOG.com, the consumer also gets the original game, the manual, an exclusive game guide, 18 artworks, and the comic book. The digital Broken Sword: The Smoking Mirror - Remastered comic book was created by Dave Gibbons. The short comic provides information on what happened before the beginning of the game.
The Smoking Mirror received mixed to positive reviews from critics. Gaming Age gave the game a B+, saying: "The sound is another area in which The Smoking Mirror excels. Although there isn't a constant soundtrack playing, haunting music often accompanies certain actions, much like the original Tomb Raider." PC Gamer gave it a score of 82%, saying it's "more of the same solid adventure fare found in Circle of Blood." GameSpot gave the game a 7.9 out of 10 and praised it for its additions that "help to streamline the adventure", but criticised the "insufficient information about Tezcatlipoca and Maya civilization altogether" when it came to the storyline. Jen of Four Fat Chicks gave it a "thumbs up" and stated that he would recommend this game for the good storyline and the beautiful graphics, but if players want a game that has more adventuring, they should look elsewhere. "Mr. Bill and Lela" of Mr. Bill's Adventureland praised its controls and humour, and called it an excellent sequel, that they wouldn't have missed playing.
Unlike the original release, Broken Sword: The Smoking Mirror has received very positive reviews from critics. AppSafari gave the game a 5 out of 5, saying: "Production values for the game are sky-high, with gorgeous graphics, challenging, well-designed puzzles, and pitch-perfect voice acting. The sequel also implements the same fantastic touch interface of its predecessor." AppGamer gave the game a 10 out of 10, saying: "Broken Sword 2 will last you hours, having all the playability of a full-priced PC game. It is the kind of game that could convert people who wouldn't look twice at adventure games, and is easily one of my most highly recommended titles on the platform." GameZone gave the game an 8 out of 10 and praised the game's controls and cut scenes, but stated that the iPad version of the game can be blurry at times. Carl Stevens of TouchGen gave the game 4 out of 5 start and stated that it should be on everybody's "must play list" and that the ease of, and restriction between some puzzles were the only let down in the game. Jeniffer Allen of 148Apps gave the game a 4 out of 5 start and praised it, saying: "Broken Sword: The Smoking Mirror is a fantastic game. The story feels as fresh and as entertaining as it did back in the day, and the slightly improved graphics are much appreciated. Many hours of entertaining storytelling lie ahead."
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