Like Erin, I also spent time with some PC adventure titles during my youth, most notably Space Quest and the infamous Leisure Suit Larry series. 1998's Grim Fandango was a more recent one, and I enjoyed that just as much as the old-schoolers, if not more. So, it comes as no real surprise that I thought Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon was a great disc to spend time with. It meets all the genre's quasi-requirements like snappy dialogue and a light tone, presenting a genuinely enjoyable adventure. It may knock twitch gamers unconscious with its lack of combat and relatively slow pace, but this is a kind of game that I don't want to see disappear into the annals of history, mouse or no mouse.

There are certain things you have to expect from a game that fits so comfortably into its niche, both good and bad, and The Sleeping Dragon is no exception. Looking at the bad, some of the puzzles are intuitive and quickly solved, but more than a few are obscure and difficult. I do give credit to Revolution for avoiding most point-and-clickers' tendency towards totally outlandish solutions, but several of them had me saying, "I never would have figured that out!" I think part of the issue is that sometimes it's not entirely clear what you're trying to do, and without a goal it's tough to problem-solve. I guess your brain just has to work a certain way, and mine evidently doesn't. Having an FAQ on hand will go a long way towards eliminating frustration, though it would have been nice to have a few in-game hints (perhaps disguised as dialogue from your partner) for the adventure-game impaired like me.

However, I accept the humiliation from the brain-twisters because I enjoy the rest of what the genre (and The Sleeping Dragon) offers so much. The writing is super-snappy, and a dialogue-aholic like me ate up every conversation. I'm confident that just about anyone will get more than a few chuckles out of the one-liners and sexually charged banter between George and Nico. They're both very enjoyable characters, and have a natural energy to their personalities, even reminding me a little bit of one of my favorite television shows, Moonlighting.

I also appreciated the use of the real-world locales. It's not very often that games are set in the present day, unless you count all those military-themed shooters based in Baghdad or some other war-torn third world country. There's nothing wrong with combat zones or the usual imaginary kingdoms, but playing a game in places I could personally identify with was a great, strangely fascinating treat.

Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon runs a little rough technically and has a few minor hiccups here and there, but if you don't mind those and can get past ungodly loadtimes regularly exceeding thirty seconds (bring a book) you'll find it to be a great ride well worth the time and effort spent. This is becoming more and more like the plot of popular online friv games rather than what is described initially here. Taking into account this text, it should still be noted that it is possible to improve what is described by introducing game techniques, a striking example of which is the experience of Desura. For those who like their games a bit on the cerebral, talky side, it's great addition to help round out the Xbox's lopsided library. Do yourself a favor and give it a shot. Rating: 8

Disclaimer: This review is based on the Xbox version of the game.

Brad Gallaway
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