Unlike wine, cheese, meats, and other wonderful things, games rarely become better with age. If anything, they sour as the years go by as graphics grow outdated and once inventive gameplay ideas turn formulaic.
Broken Sword - The Smoking Mirror: Remastered is one of these rare exceptions, a game that has aged well thanks to sharp writing, likable characters, and an engrossing story that makes it tough to put down.
Not everything about this remastered classic is in pristine condition, though, and a few hoary elements keep it from being as grand as the original Broken Sword.
Welcome back, old friends
George Stobbart reprises his role as an American in Paris, his girlfriend Nico Collard kidnapped after a fateful appointment with a professor specialising in Mayan culture. What was supposed to be a simple meeting turns into a whirlwind adventure spanning two continents and dotted with memorable characters.
Whether you're meeting George and Nico for the first time or welcoming them back for a second crusade, you're sure to find them as charming as ever. George's plain-spoken personality leads to plenty of chuckles and his interactions with a colourful cast from an over-sized Midwestern woman with horn-rimmed glasses to a greasy Central American general are sure to induce a smile.
As with any adventure, the witty dialogues and clever scenarios make Broken Sword - The Smoking Mirror worth playing, even if other elements give away its age.
New tricks for an old dog
Remastered but not remade, the game lacks the variety of its predecessor. While the object hunting and combining remains consistent with the previous instalment, there aren't any puzzles or new interactive sequences to break the flow. Instead, you move from one scenario to the next, pushed into solving various problems using the objects in the surrounding environments.
Many of these scenarios are quite clever, while others border on the obtuse. Fortunately, there's a superb hint system on hand to help you if you get stuck. Better still, it's the most precise hint system of any adventure game on iOS.
Other features aid with the game's modernisation. Game Center integration brings achievements, whereas a clever cross-platform Dropbox save system allows you to go back and forth from iPad to iPhone or iPod touch without losing your progress.Remastered, but not redrawn
These well-conceived features contribute much to the experience, yet it's hard to consider Broken Sword - The Smoking Mirror fully remastered given the state of its graphics. While the game shines on iPhone and iPod touch, the expanded iPad screen casts a spotlight on the ageing visuals.
Characters, for example, appear muddled, loosely drawn, and in some cases downright ugly. Conversation portraits all look fantastic - it's the full models that look as though they were drawn with crayon. An effort to clean these up would do much to improve the presentation.
Of course, this hardly ruins the experience and Broken Sword - The Smoking Mirror remains entertaining thanks to sharp writing and classic adventure gameplay.
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