The First Templar: God of War meets Assassin's Creed?

Should Ubisoft be looking over its shoulder?

This is the second game we've looked at this issue whose very title sets bells ringing and makes Ubisoft look over their shoulders, but The First Templar is more of a traditional hack-'n'-slasher than any of the jaunts enjoyed by Desmond's ancestors.

Developed by Bulgarian historical RTS specialists Haemimont, the 13th century romp soon dispenses with any of the factual battling in which the company specialises (though this does include the climactic Battle of Acre) to go after that all-time fool's errand - getting hold of a specific recepticle from 1st Century Jerusalem.


The central hero of this murky scrapper is a real cut-'n'-paste beardy sword-swinger, but luckily, whether you're with a co-op pal or on your own, you'll be able to switch between characters to progress.

Early footage showed you alongside an identikit male soldier - and he may still be in the finished game - but the major secondary character will be a sassy female 'heretic' crucial to the mission.

In solo mode, these sidekicks can be AI-controlled, but anyone can jump in and take control of them (both online and in split screen) for some properly orchestrated slaughter, with one of you holding a foe's arms so the other has a clear opportunity to introduce their guts to some sharp steel.

Looking far slicker in motion that on the page, it's hard to be too damning about The First Templar's game world, visually - especially if you've just been playing, say, Two Worlds II.

Your journey is going to take you round the greatest cities of Medieval Europe - as well as oriental environments, suggesting that the Grail's well hidden - and inevitably there'll be plenty of levelling up and tweaking skill trees as you progress.

Some enemies will have specific abilities you can take on when you've vanquished them, and there's also the by now traditional rage-meter style feature (here called Zeal), where a series of successful melée actions will build up special attack options.

Despite all this, what with it being a quest for the Grail, there's also time for a spot of puzzling, and the thorny old issue of immortality: will you take that ultimate swig?

Kalypso have such a threadbare portfolio as publishers that we're almost afraid to get our hopes up too high about The First Templar.

But it looks theoretically interesting, and a decent script and unbroken action could make for a genuinely warm recommendation come this spring.

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