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Ancestors, Humankind Odyssey review: Growing pains

(XO/PS4/PC) ★★★ Age: 12+

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Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey

Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey

Ancestors

Ancestors

Sniper Ghost Warrior: Contracts

Sniper Ghost Warrior: Contracts

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Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey

Oh, what a modest project - just an attempt to simulate aeons of evolution, from ape to human. But if you thought anyone could do it, you might pick Patrice Désilets, the man who helmed the bustling, deep worlds of Assassin's Creed.

Ancestors is an order of magnitude more ambitious, even if Désilets' team is considerably smaller than that of AC. As the subtitle alludes, you're taking a group of early primates and attempting to navigate the vagaries of survival-of-the-fittest by developing new skills, learning about the natural world and dodging a menagerie of predators.

Across thousands of years, you choose how to evolve, by becoming a better hunter, or improving your senses, etc.

You may have spotted this is just another angle on gaming's over-familiar skill trees. Beneath the surface of Ancestors' distinctive approach, in fact, you'll recognise many common game tropes, from repetitive resource gathering to unnatural extrasensory perception highlighting useful objects.

None of this would be a problem if Ancestors didn't leave you to fend for yourself like a newborn. There's no narrative to speak of and brief tutorials are sporadic. You might stumble on an objective, or complete one without knowing you were trying.

This apparent randomness, coupled with the sometimes ungainly controls, could easily lead you to give up before Ancestors gets its hooks into you. That's Darwinism at its most ruthless: a game that struggles to survive because it's not fully evolved.


Sniper Ghost Warrior: Contracts

(XO/PS4/PC) ★★ Age: 18+

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Sniper Ghost Warrior: Contracts

Sniper Ghost Warrior: Contracts

Sniper Ghost Warrior: Contracts

Are you the sort of person who relishes exploding a man's head from half a kilometre away? Well, Sniper Elite is the title for you - which, you may notice, is not this game. Sadly, the more sober Sniper Ghost Warrior series has always been the poor relation to the gonzo Elite franchise.

Contracts changes little, its hardcore (ish) approach to sniping taking account of wind direction and bullet drop - but spectacularly failing to explain the interface to compensate for either.

Struggle through the opening mission and it gets better, but not much, the technical hitches almost as discouraging as the dumb AI and disjointed storyline.


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