Broken Sword : The Smoking Mirror

From Virgin and Revolution

Brief Description

You are George Stobbart, an American who is returning to Paris to visit his girlfriend. After some full screen animations setting up the opening of the game, you find yourself in peril, and Nico has been kidnapped. You'll have to rescue yourself before you can rescue her.

This game is the second of a series of animated adventure games. Like the previous game Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars the animations are some the best I've seen on a computer game. It feels much more like an animated film, even real game shows some of the best animation that you could want for a game of this type. Some of the full screen animations require a better system than my current setup (don't panic, it's a mere 486-100)and get a pixelated if your computer isn't up to it. The game plays just fine otherwise, even on this machine.

The great graphics of the game are complemented by very good stereo music and sound effects. Music, voices and sound FX can have their volumes set individually. The actors do a fine job on the characterisations. The second game in the series, much like the first, has a real plot. While games with lots of atmosphere and little plot have their place, it is great to have a serious story to follow.

Game play and hints

Basic game play is a cursor-based point-and-click interface. The cursor changes to show you when you can do something. You need to carefully move the mouse over the scene to ensure that you have found everything necessary. A right click will usually get you a description of the object while a left click will attempt to use it. Right clicking before you try and grab something is frequently a good idea.

This game requires you to look at everything, pick up anything you can and talk to everyone. If you have any choice of topics of conversation, the choices are represented as icons on the bottom of the screen. In some scenes, you may have to talk to everyone several times before you've exhausted the possible conversations. If George refuses to talk to anyone, then the puzzle that you need to solve must involve finding another item.

Most puzzles in this game can be solved using items from nearby locations. There are a few places where the item may be hard to grab (only a few pixels) but at least the game doesn't have characters moving overtop those items like the last one did. There are times that you'll find an item will be carried for a long time, and there are occasions when you may find yourself using everything in the inventory just to work out what is needed. You know you've hit the right thing to do when you get a sudden music change.

There are a number of places in the game where you can get the character killed. Be warned, and remember to save the game. As ever, keep a couple of different saved games on hand. You may want to go back for some reason. Though as far as I can tell, this game never has the problem of some adventure games where you may use the last of an item and need to retrieve an older saved game. If George uses his only fish the wrong way, he will be able to get another. This does make the game much less frustrating than other games, but also makes it signficantly less difficult.

Eventually, you will have to direct Nico as she solves some separate puzzles in this game. At this point, you will be going back and forth between the two characters but the jumps only happen when you've solved a certain amount for the current character. I found the jumps between scenes in this game much better implemented than in the previous game. The previous game, you'd just reappear in Nico's apartment. This game uses full animations to show where the character is headed for, and sometimes a bit of voice to help set the scene.

A few major hints, there is a point where you should map a few rooms. There are several exit and entry points, and you'll need to use most of them to gain your true objective. Fortunately, it isn't a real maze, and once you start mapping, you'll solve it quickly. When you can use the theodolite, move the cursor toward the right-hand edge of the screen. I kept thinking that just moving the cursor to the right of the view should be sufficient, but they treat this like other screens, so you need to have the cursor fairly far to the right.

Gripes about the game

A gripe I had about the previous game has been fixed in this one. Namely, the first game sometimes has very drawn-out sequences where you spend a very long time learning things, but not really doing much except talking to people. This game does require you to talk to people a fair amount, but the conversations don't get as long as I remember from the first game.

This game is a bit too linear though. There is nowhere to go and try something different when you're stuck at one point. You can be pretty sure that you can move beyond this point with either items already in your inventory or by talking to people around. If there are several people in the scene, you may need to talk to everyone a second time, or try to follow-up hints one of them gave you as to who to talk to next.

The game did stop at one point, where I was stuck in a movie that refused to end properly even after hitting the escape key. I did eventually find that ejecting the CD then putting it back moved the game beyond that point. I've heard comments from others that indicate that the game does cause a few problems.


The two CDs of this game provide plenty of game play, and should keep even the best gamers going more than one weekend on it. It is a worthy sucessor of Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars. If you haven't bought it yet, you should. Highly recommended for intermediate to advanced adventure game players, beginners may find it very tough. There are always walkthroughs to fall back on though.

The game has fewer hunt the pixel problems than the original game did. It does have a maze, but it is actually quite a small one. There are several points in the game where you may die if you don't solve a problem and one of them requires good timing. That one was getting very frustrating because you have to move quickly to keep out of harm's way. The puzzles do seem reasonably fair, though more than once I was down to trying a number of items in the inventory to solve a puzzle.

Certainly, if you found the original Broken Sword game entertaining, you will find this one to be so. I suspect that serious fans of the first game have long since bought this one.

Some final thoughts on the game.

If you find this game enjoyable, then you should try Broken Sword - Shadow of the Templars and Broken Sword - The Sleeping Dragon as well.

My favourite bit of the game occurs towards the end. George stumbles on a movie set, and the descriptions of what the director is going to do to a book plot are very funny. Particularly if you know the book in question (Treasure Island) and know how movies frequently treat books. Loosely based just doesn't even touch what happening to this book.

Plus there is one point in a tight situation where George gets to use the kind of line that real people think of about three days after the event. It was very cute. This game includes a particularly nice mechanical puzzle to solve.