Review: The First Templar

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.

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[drop]Combat is a similar tale. Players have a lot of combat to get used to with it providing the majority of what’s on offer. The combat system is reasonably sturdy having clearly taken some lessons from the Assassin’s Creed series. Exchanging blows is a satisfying experience and there’s an element of timing needed in order to block correctly. The problem lies with The First Templar’s hefty focus on combat. There’s just too much of it. In later stages it becomes far too repetitive so players quickly forget just what works so well with it. There’s an experience system that hopes to provide variety with the unlocking of new attacks, as well as bonuses such as extra health, but in the majority of cases, there’s just no need to use more complex moves when the standard attacks work just fine.

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.

[drop2]Of course, the AI was most likely added in at the last minute considering everything about The First Templar encourages co-operative play with real people. It’s easy to set up an online game with either randoms or friends, assuming you can find anyone else who actually owns it (I couldn’t), and players can set up split screen games too. The split screen interface unfortunately makes things a little squashed but it does at least mean that The First Templar has some benefit. It’s a reasonable enough game when backed up with the enjoyment that comes with playing a game with friends. Even if players might find themselves laughing together at some of the silliness. The First Templar enjoys offering up some bugs such as moments in which the player might be convinced that they’ve missed something obvious, when in fact it’s simply because the game has glitched and not progressed like it should have.

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • Boring
  • 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.

Score: 4/10

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13 Comments

  1. Good review, shame about the game. Thanks for the warning.

  2. I totally agree about boring games.
    Games like Ghostbusters on the NES or Superman 64 are so bad they have a kind of cult status whereas boring games just seem like a tragic waste.

    • Yes…. they’ll never be forgotten likely boosted by the “Angry Video Game Nerd” haha. Talking of bad games…. Dragonball Z: Ultimate Battle 22 and Final Bout where to me the greatest fighting games ever, just because of the music alone.

      Now if they’re where nicely polished than slow & clunky…

  3. Having found the first Assassin’s Creed game quickly became boring and lacking in fun I’d best stay well clear of this. :)

  4. I hope they do a Ninja game next….

  5. Assassin’s Creed w/o the fun? I’m sorry but when has AC actually been fun? I mean its amusing for the first two or three hours but holding two buttons for 10 or so hours just ain’t that fun for me

    • im inclined to disagree. I mean, arnt all games about 1 or 2 hugely used buttons…. like FPS are all about the trigger.

      I find AC to be the same yet refreshing with every instalment.

      • yeah but most of those games actually take some skill in the aiming etc in AC you practically hold it down the whole game

    • Perhaps, I know what you mean Prince of Persia was infamous for this by replacing the climb button R1 into X. thankfully AC features a good story and progression of side missions to keep a average gamer busy.

      • yeah if it weren’t for the story I wouldn’t have bothered with AC2 and ACB

  6. Good review. I always wonder, if you’re a developer working on a game like this, do you know it’s bad?

    P.s. In your stealth paragraph, the Beeb have stealth into one of your words: “For instance, enemies can sometimes see further ahead of their field of vision then you’d expect, but at bbcother times players can practically stand next to them without any problem.”

    • Also, I’m really good at English, are you familiar with the verb stealth? Past tense: stealth.

  7. Great review, thanks for the heads up.

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