Thursday, May 19, 2011

Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars

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Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars
Developer – Revolution Software
Publisher – Virgin Interactive
Release date - 31 January 1998

Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars (also known as Circle of Blood in the United States) is a point-and-click adventure game developed by Revolution Software. The player assumes the role of George Stobbart, an American tourist in Paris, as he attempts to unravel a conspiracy. The game takes place in both real and fictional locations in Europe and the Middle East.


In 1992, Cecil and Noirin Carmody met with Sean Brennan, then-head of publishing at Virgin Interactive, and spoke about how the Knights Templar would make an ideal subject to base a game on. Later, Virgin agreed to issue the game. In a September 1992 interview for French magazine Génération 4, Charles Cecil stated that he had begun working on a scenario for Revolution's third game, after 1992's Lure of the Temptress and 1994's then-upcoming Beneath a Steel Sky. The game would be set in Paris with a Templar story line. The following month, Cecil visited Paris to research the Templars; after reading The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, he was certain there was enough known about the Templars to make them a good subject for a game. Cecil, Dave Cummins, and Jonathan Howard began work on the story and design. Cecil and Cummins attended a film-writing course and their script was read by Alan Drury, a senior BBC scriptwriter and dramatist. Revolution artist Steve Ince created initial location sketches for the game before working on Beneath a Steel Sky. He was promoted to producer halfway through the project.

Despite releasing the PC version, Virgin was not interested in publishing the game on the PlayStation, feeling that only 3D games would sell for the console. As a result, Cecil contacted Sony Computer Entertainment, who agreed to release the game for the console. In North America, Broken Sword was renamed to Circle of Blood. Cecil was uneasy about the name change, feeling that it gave a wrong impression of what type of game it was. In 1998 however, THQ published the game on the PlayStation platform under its original Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars title.

One of Cecil's goals was to depart from the humorous adventure games more popular at the time, such as LucasArts' Monkey Island series, by creating a game with good pacing and a complex storyline, a reason he thought the Knights Templar would be an ideal subject. Unlike LucasArts games, which used a question-and-answer conversation system, Broken Sword offered "conversation icons" that would not reveal to the player what the protagonist was about to say; Cecil's intention was to make the game more cinematic, but not resemble interactive movies of that time; he felt that they were "mimicking movies. He wanted to create two protagonists who would exchange ideas, helping drive the game along. He made George American and Nico French to appeal to US and European markets.

The team at Revolution had high expectations for Broken Sword, but there was significant competition. Revolution had a team that had created successful adventure games, but believed they needed to utilise the best of other creative industries. Eoghan Cahill and Neil Breen of Dublin's Don Bluth studios drew the backgrounds in pencil and digitally colored them in Photoshop. The introductory sequence and the main characters were done by animator Mike Burgess, who worked for the Red Rover animation studio. The game's graphics were animated in a style resembling classic animated films.

Cecil contacted composer Barrington Pheloung, who agreed to create the game's score. Revolution had already cast Hazel Ellerby as Nicole Collard, but had trouble finding a voice actor for George Stobbart. Hazel, who went to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, suggested her former schoolmate from Guildhall, Rolf Saxon, as George. Charles offered him the job, and Saxon accepted. The remaining credited voice actors in the original are Rachel Atkins, David Bannerman, Rosy Clayton, Jack Elliott, Steve Hodson, David Holt, Peter Kenny, Richard Mapletoft, Matthew Marsh, Colin McFarlane, Don McCorkindale, Gavin Muir, Paul Panting, and Andrew Wincott.

Cecil was the game's director and writer, Tony Warriner and David Sykes the designer-programmers, and Noirin Carmody the executive producer. The game uses the Virtual Theatre engine. The game's final cost was one million pounds.


As the game begins, American tourist George Stobbart witnesses a terrorist attack at a café in Paris, during which a clown steals an old man's briefcase and detonates a bomb. Soon after, George meets Nicole Collard, a journalist who is photographing the scene. George investigates the area to help Nicole gather information about the attack. He finds the clown's discarded nose and learns that a man was seen escaping with a briefcase. After Nicole discovers the address of a costume shop inside the clown nose, George learns from that shop's owner that the nose had been purchased by a man named Khan.


Broken Sword is a 2D adventure game played from a third-person perspective. The player uses a point-and-click interface to interact with the environment and to guide protagonist George Stobbart through the game's world. To solve puzzles and progress in the game, the player collects items that may be combined with one another, used on the environment, or given to non-player characters (NPCs). The protagonist converses with NPCs via dialogue trees presented through "conversation icons" to learn about the game's puzzles and plot. Clues and other information are obtained by clicking on items in the inventory and on objects in the environment. The player navigates with a map, to which new locations are added as the story unfolds. Unlike in most adventure games at the time, the protagonist's death is possible, after which the player starts from the last save point.

1 comment:

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