BROKEN SWORD 2: THE SMOKING MIRROR / Revolution / PC
Broken Sword 2's biggest problem is that it's obtuse. Puzzles are plotted out in such a way that they often make zero sense except in retrospect, and just rely on you randomly trying things with the items and hotspots that happen to be available. Unlike in the first game (or at least the Director's Cut), you can die fairly frequently in this one, and there's quite a few spots where you can either get unexpectedly killed or simply irrevocably screw up a puzzle without realizing it. The first Broken Sword had the same slow movement and languid overall pace with heaps of dialogue, but it was saved from tedium by not being frustrating in the way that this game is. With the addition of Sierra Hang-Ups and unexpected deaths, the whole formula is shot to hell. Aside from the frustrating death/hangup elements already mentioned, there's too many scenes where the solution is simply talking to everyone around about every possible subject, or pixel-hunting for some obscure little spot on the screen where you can use an item.
It also doesn't help that the story is not at all engaging, and oftentimes sleep-inducing when combined with the slow pace and heaps of chit-chat. Normally I enjoy a slow-paced atmospheric game with great art and lots of optional dialogue to sit through (see the first Gabriel Knight), but somehow, here, it all just doesn't click together in the right way, instead just being boring and feeling like a grind most of the time. The humor also falls flat more often here than it did in the original game.
Hearing that this game was released only a year after the original, and clearly seems to use the same engine, it's hard not to take the cynical view that this was a half-baked rushjob designed to pump some more loot into Revolution's coffers while popularity of the first game was still fresh and hot. That's really what the game feels like, though, and it's a letdown as compared to the surprising depth and artistry of the original game. Apparently a "remastered" release was done for this in a similar style to the Director's Cut of the first game, but in this case it has so far only been released for Apple iOS devices.
* Gameplay Video