The worst kind of game is a terrible game, correct? Wrong. It’s actually the insidiously boring game that’s the worst. Compounded even more so when there’s every now and then, a glimpse of something that might have been OK. You see, terrible games invoke emotion. Any emotion at least ensures that the memory sticks in the player’s head forever more. Even if it’s rage that they’ve wasted their precious time and money on such a monstrosity. Boring games though? They’re just ultimately very forgettable. Never to be remembered for any length of time further than ‘What did you play yesterday?’ ‘Erm….it was a hack n slash game I think. Can’t remember now. The Last Templar maybe?’.
So yes, The First Templar isn’t very good at all. Slightly surprisingly, it’s also not terrible either. It’s just there. A vacuum of originality and good ideas. Even the pause music is so dull that the game oh so kindly just stops playing it if you leave the pause menu open long enough.
The story behind proceedings isn’t bad though. Following the quest for the Holy Grail during the time of the crusades, it might not be the most original idea but it is nice to see another game focusing on a potentially very interesting period of history. There are a sufficient number of twists and turns to keep players mildly intrigued. It’s a shame that the dialogue and voice acting are so incredibly dire but that fits the theme of the game perfectly. Everything about The First Templar involves giving with one hand and taking away with the other.
It may look ok, but the gameplay doesn't reflect that.
The aforementioned experience is mostly gained through completing objectives. In each of the 20 levels, there are a series of mandatory objectives to complete as well as many bonus objectives. The bonuses range from the likes of burning enemy supplies to rescuing villagers being pillaged by the enemy. Rudimentary treasure hunting is also available with a series of chests scattered around each level. They’re frequently not hard to find and offer up predictable bonuses such as armour pieces and slightly lazy treasures such as a chunk of experience. Players can also collect templar stones that aim to expand the storyline more, much like the many audio diaries of countless other titles.
There’s a bit more than just hacking and slashing too in the form of stealth segments and puzzles. The stealth sections are amongst the worst within the game. All the key elements are there. The ability to distract enemies with objects, each foe having a field of vision to be aware of and so forth. It’s just that it doesn’t work very well. For instance, enemies can sometimes see further ahead of their field of vision then you’d expect, but at other times players can practically stand next to them without any problem. The co-op AI isn’t overly bright when it comes to how to approach stealth sequences either, often causing problems.
Indeed, the AI is similarly patchy throughout the rest of the game. Sometimes it’ll be useful during battle but other times, it’s just a hindrance getting in the way of the player’s chance of success. When coming across a series of traps (think Prince of Persia style traps – huge swinging axes and pressure sensitive spike platforms), the AI is often oblivious to such perils, simply running through them all and dying. Facepalms are certainly needed for moments such as these.
It’s not all bad. Some of the puzzles, especially near the end of the game, will get players scratching their head as they’re quite well implemented. There’s a degree of micro management thanks to the AI needing its hand held throughout and the basic AI commands being a bit lacklustre, but solving the puzzles is fun. It all feels a little like Tomb Raider at this point, at least until the foolhardy AI partner walks smack into a flying axe.
Just look at those arches.
- Some puzzles are quite clever
- The first hour is good fun till you realise you’ve seen everything it has to offer
- Nice to have more co-op games available
- Uninspired game mechanics
- Cringeworthy dialogue
- Dodgy partner AI
- Badly implemented stealth sequences
The First Templar isn’t great by any means. It’s also not terrible enough to despise. It’s just simply a game that will be forgotten within moments of turning the Xbox 360 off. Play it with friends and those memories will hang around, even if there are much better propositions. Played alone however, it’s a bit of a waste of time.