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Assassin's Creed Unity review

Sam Loveridge

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Assassin's Creed Unity
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Summary

Our Score:

9

Pros

  • Stunning recreation of French Revolution Paris
  • Hundreds of hours of content
  • Strong storyline

Cons

  • Control system still isn’t perfect
  • Still a few bugs to be fixed

Available on PS4, Xbox One and PC

If we can say one thing about Assassin’s Creed Unity, it’s that it is the most beautiful of the series’ entries so far. It’s the first game that has been developed solely for new-gen Xbox One and PS4 consoles and PC and it shows in every pixel. That’s not something that hasn’t been captured in other Assassin’s Creed titles, it’s just something we have come to expect when purchasing an Ubisoft game nowadays.

But Assassin’s Creed Unity takes those aesthetics to a whole new level.

Watch the Assassin's Creed: Unity trailer

Light bounces off the rivers, carves shadows across the buildings and as it turns to night, you see the Parisian landscape aglow with lamp fire. The buildings themselves are supposedly 1:1 scale and it shows. Walk into the Notre Dame you'll see ceilings arch above you. Climb to the top one of Paris’ many towers or scale the Notre Dame itself and you’ll notice how much detail and passion has gone into building this game and infusing it with life and history.

The streets are packed with more NPCs than we’ve ever seen in a game. They throb in vast numbers in central squares below the Notre Dame or to watch the latest guillotine sessions, meaning you're often pushing through civilians to get to your goal, or using them to blend in and assassinate silently. It’s partly the sheer number of citizens that gives Unity’s Paris its soul. The noise of the crowds’ French voices fill your ears, with the sounds of daily life adding to the soundscape.

But that is undercut by the Cockney or Yorkshire accents of the guards and police respectively. It seems strange that they sound so very British against the French citizens, especially when you hear them call you a “pillock” or asked if you’ve soiled yourself recently.

You will explore Paris and its many delights as Arno Dorian, who is a newly initiated Assassin in the middle of French Revolution Paris. Arno is a strong-headed, cocky individual who has distinct similarities to our favourite assassin, Ezio Auditore da Firenze, from Assassin’s Creed 2 – which is always a good thing.

Unity follows Arno’s life from a young boy to the peak of his Assassin’s career and it's one of the most compelling and strongest that we’ve seen from an Assassin’s Creed game for some time, especially at the beginning. That said, and we won’t ruin it for you whatsoever, you do come away at the end credits a little disappointed – and you’ll see what we mean when you get there.

You won’t see much of Versailles during the main campaign, but it is always there if you wish to visit it. Paris is where you’ll be spending nearly all your time, and a lot of time too. We’ve sunk over 50 hours into the game at this point and it’s hard to see any of the map at a distance for all the markers for available side-missions, collectible, chests, co-op opportunities or other such quests.

It’s the biggest and most densely packed of the Assassin’s Creed worlds, which is in part helped by the fact you can go inside a large number of the buildings. Often chests and missions can only be found tucked away inside the various homes. When climbing using RT, pulling LT will make Arno swing inside windows – often with little success we might add. The fact that the buildings are much more than just shells or building blocks also helps make this the most engaging and realistic Assassin’s Creed yet.

SEE ALSO: Assassin’s Creed Unity tips and tricks

The real focus of Assassin’s Creed Unity is its enhanced sense of freedom. The main storyline missions have been revamped so that you have total control of how you approach missions. Major assassinations now take an open fortress format where Arno perches himself on a nearby lookout point and surveys the area. He’ll mark out distraction opportunities or alternate entrances that you might want to take advantage of, and from there it’s up to you how to handle the mission.

With each mission you’ll be presented with optional objectives too, such as taking out a number of guards from cover or hiding points, performing double air assassinations or sabotaging alarm bells. You’ll need to tick all the boxes if you want to 100 per cent each mission (especially if you’re OCD like us) and if you want to earn the full reward for each one.

Some of these will require specific skills, which are a key part of Assassin’s Creed Unity. In the Player Customisation screen you’ll see a Skills option, where you’ll find a number of skills split into four distinct categories – Melee, Ranged, Stealth and Health.

We found the Stealth skills the most helpful, as it gave us lockpicking abilities for alternate entries into buildings and for unlocking red chests. Plus, you’ll need to unlock certain skills to have abilities that other assassins like Edward Kenway had as standard – environmental blending, double assassinations, double air assassinations and roll recovery for long falls for example.

SEE ALSO: Far Cry 4 tips and tricks

Assassin's Creed Unity

Skills are unlocked using Sync Points, earned through campaign and co-op missions/heists. Sync Points are just one of the game’s four currencies, which can be quite tricky to work out at first. The main currency is French Livre, which you’ll use to buy weapons, gear and other items. But then you have Sync Points, Creed Points for weapon and gear upgrades and Hack Points. These are the shortcut currency, which can be purchased using microtransactions (sadly) and get you lots of high-level gear a lot quicker. If you unlock all the Social Houses and the Café de la Theatre though, you’ll be raking in the cash in no time, meaning having that microtransaction option really isn’t necessary.

The open-ended missions are a refreshing change for the Assassin’s Creed series. Armed with your customised Arno, you really do have the freedom to carve your own path. This enhanced freedom is also aided by the way Ubisoft has revamped two key areas of gameplay in Unity – combat and free-running.

The control structure has been completely streamlined, making it far easier to traverse Paris at speed. Pulling on the right trigger still puts Arno in free-running mode, but now you climb up or down by pressing one of two buttons. He’ll automatically climb if you’ve got RT pressed, but hold down A (or X on PS4) as well and he’ll jump higher and further with increased skill.

But, the real change comes to climbing down. There’s still bizarrely placed hay bales to swandive into from rooftops, but if you press B (or circle on PS4) with RT then you’ll find Arno descends the buildings at speed, finding handholds and other grip points to quickly get to ground level.

For those familiar with Assassin’s Creed games, this will seem odd at first and take a little while to familiarise yourself with. But, once you have, it’ll feel like second nature and make your Parkour skills – and therefore your stealth abilities too – second to none.

There can still be a few frustrations, though. Although it’s near impossible to accidentally leap to your death, it can be tricky to push Arno from one wall and across a gap to another. Plus, Ubisoft has chosen to add a few animals into the crowds, like dogs and goats, which act as solid, immovable objects that you can’t climb. That means, if you run into one at pace, you stop dead in your tracks and can get stuck entirely.

Also, you can find yourself stranded on a point at times, unable to climb up or down, even by the route you came by. The control system has definitely improved upon previous series instalments, but there’s still a few irks to iron out yet.

See also: Best Xbox One Games 2014

Assassin's Creed Unity

Tweaks have been made to the combat system too and for those who have played games like Batman: Arkham Asylum there are definite similarities. You can no longer just spam your defensive move and take out swathes of enemies. The combat is far more challenging in Unity, because you’ll find enemies flank you from all sides. Even if you’ve mastered all the counters and parry moves, you might just find yourself outnumbered and need to use a smoke bomb to make a swift escape.

You’ll need to learn quickly that there are different types of enemies too, which can take you down in one blow if you’re not quick to parry or dodge their heavier blows. That’s where Eagle Vision comes in. It was present in all other Assassin’s Creed games, but in Unity, the technique really comes into its own. In fact, it’s such an invaluable skill that you’ll be hammering Y (or triangle on the PS4) as soon as it’s available after a brief cool down period.

Eagle Vision sweeps through the area highlighting guards (and their weapons) in red, police officers in blue and potential allies in green. Any assassination targets will be marked in yellow, along with distraction opportunities. They’ll show up through walls too, meaning you can plan how to make your make next move in missions.

Be warned, if you find yourself repeatedly failing to finish a mission, it’s the game giving you a sign you might want to find a different tack. You’ll quickly realise that enemies will spot you faster if you keep trying the same tactics. The enemy AI in Unity is far more intelligent than you give them credit for.

You’ll need to utilise all your acquired skills, hiding points, cover kills and other gadgets like smoke or cherry bombs to complete each mission. Take out as many guards as you can, because it’ll make your eventual escape a lot easier.

SEE ALSO: Sunset Overdrive tips and tricks

Assassin's Creed Unity

As you start playing, you’ll also quickly realise that Unity is the most gruesome of the Assassin’s Creed games. Blood flows from the veins you just opened in each enemy, meaning soon you’ll be painting the town (and its inhabitants) red in the goriest of manners. We often found Arno sporting a rather horrific blood smeared face in campaign cut-scenes, just to highlight how many guards you’d killed just moments before.

Another thing to consider is that the visual enhancements introduced with Unity aren’t just to make it look beautiful. The game has a dynamic day and night cycle, as well as the occasional rain storm. But the lighting can affect how you approach missions as well. Moving from interior to exterior locations in the middle of the day will cause visibility issues. Try and emerge from a darkened room through a window and you’ll be blinded for a few seconds until Arno’s eyes adjust to the daylight, which can be quite an issue when you’re trying to take out a guard standing watch outside. The level of detail in this game can be quite awe-inspiring at times and not just because of the blood bath.

SEE ALSO: Alien Isolation tips and tricks

Assassin's Creed Unity

Arno’s story is fragmented by the Time Shifts that you might have seen in one of the more recent AC Unity trailers. Unlike previous Assassin’s Creed games, you never have any sections where you don’t play as Arno. Instead, there are points in the story where Bishop and the guys on the other side help you escape as Abstergo tries to find you in the Animus, leading to Time Shifts where you’re transported to a different era.

These Time Shifts are probably the most linear sections of the storyline, but they are a glimpse at what alternate Paris landscapes could look like. We won’t ruin them, or any plot points in the story, because it’s one of the best Assassin’s Creed storylines yet.

We would add that you shouldn’t just complete the story missions one after the other. Paris has a huge amount of side missions and collectibles to explore and you’ll want to intersperse different mission types. While the main campaign missions are engaging, the open-ended fortress style missions can become a little repetitive towards the end of the story. Most gamers will do this automatically, but if you just focus on the campaign it can become a little monotonous if you don’t vary your mission types.

SEE ALSO: Minecraft tips and tricks

Assassin's Creed Unity

But that’s incredibly easy to do in Assassin’s Creed Unity. Paris is full of side missions to complete. The main type are known as Paris Stories, which will see you undertake quests such as collecting decapitated heads for Madame Tussaude or taking out rival pimps for the Marquis de Sade. There are around 50 of these alone, and they’ll keep you busy for hours on end. Plus, some of them are actually quite comical too.

What Unity also does incredibly well is teach you French history. The Murder Mystery side missions take you on a journey to solve the murder of various citizens, all of which are based on real murders in 18th Century Paris.

Plus, there’s the Nostradus missions, which present you with a riddle to solve based on famous Parisian landmarks. We really struggled with these, as they require either an amazing knowledge of French history, or a lot of time dedicated to the incredibly well-written Unity Database contained within the options menu.

There’s also Social Club and Café Theatre missions to follow, which if you unlock the Café and the clubs you’ll start to bring in quite the income from. Meaning lots of shiny new weapons and gear for you to don.

You’ll also notice that there are society mini-missions that pop up as you run around Paris. Sometimes Arno will be asked to chase down thieves, kill enemies or scare off bullies for the citizens. Once you’ve done this enough times, you’ll earn yourself some nice rewards.

Of course, Paris is also full to the brim with collectibles. There’s cockades, artefacts and chests of various colours to seek out. The chests require different skills to unlock: red ones require lockpicking skills; blues need to be opened by using the Assassin’s Creed Unity Companion app; gold chests need to be unlock using the Assassin’s Creed Initiates website, while white can be opened at any time with no specific skills.

See also: The Evil Within tips and tricks

Assassin's Creed Unity

While Assassin’s Creed Unity still feels like a strongly single-player game, Ubisoft has introduced four-player co-op to the series. Co-op missions are available around an hour or so into Unity and can be played solo, but you’ll usually a few friends in tow for the harder missions.

Like the single-player campaign, each mission is given a diamond rating and those with a higher diamond count will put you up against an increasingly difficult scenario. Most missions are for two to four players, and they’re incredibly fun to play with friends.

Co-op missions either take the form of stand-alone campaign missions with their own storyline and characters, or heists. The heists require you and your pals to infiltrate an open-ended fortress to take out various enemies within. You’ll all need to use your skills to complete the mission successfully, with some of the five diamond missions requiring high levels of skill and a lot of communication.

The co-op missions do well to extend Unity's storyline beyond the main campaign. They introduce new characters and challenges even when you've completed all the main missions and can be played over and over again. Currently, there's ten co-op missions and seven heists to complete, which should hopefully be expanded upon in the future.

There's no denying that you'll spend multiple days playing Unity on your own, but there are times when being an assassin is a lonely feeling. So grab some mates and have some fun taking enemies down together. It's a fun way to experience Unity.

SEE ALSO: Best PS4 games

Assassin's Creed Unity

Now, although Unity is vast, ambitious and jam-packed full of things to do and find, it’s not without its flaws. Even after a Day One patch, we still had times where we could dive off a building and find Paris and its people had disappeared entirely, leaving us to dive into the abyss and desynchronise.

There were also points where NPCs would spontaneously appear or disappear right before our eyes. Some may think because of the sheer amount of people in Unity, a few having issues may be forgiven, but when one appears right in front of you on a rooftop, it does jar a little.

Unity is also at times very, very frustrating. The fact that enemies will learn your favoured combat techniques and remember your entry points if you use them too often is equal levels clever and irritating. It's more apparent in later missions, though, and often taking on a side mission and coming back later is the best answer.

Next, see our pick of the Best games of 2014

Verdict

Assassin’s Creed Unity feels like the perfect starting point for gamers new to the series. It’s the pinnacle of the series in so many ways and the revamped combat and control systems make it accessible to all gamers.

The new RPG elements also work well to add a level of customisation options to the gameplay, and the open-ended missions are definitely a welcome focus. You finally feel like a real assassin who is in control of their weapons and skills.

Plus, this is the most stunning game we’ve played to date on both the Xbox One and PS4. Lighting effects will make you stop and think about the location you’re running through, while the interwoven history will take you on a very different journey.

Overall Score

9

SkullScience

November 11, 2014, 9:24 pm

So this comment I posted earlier was removed..

"Lol!! The final sentence of this preview could be a cut and paste job from CoD AW. Just remove the words AC and put in AW... voila!! From what I can gather it is an average game in slick clothing. A vast amount of bugs and glitches already being reported"

I note the final sentence has been changed! Can't think why!!

Why was this removed? Was it because it wasn't glowing? I doubt any of that original comment broke any community or site rules. Trusted Reviews seems almost ironic! Sorry if my views adhere to 90% of the reviews of this game!!

andyvan

November 12, 2014, 9:42 am

Apologies, we delete comments that refer to the preview of a game once we've posted the full review. As both articles sit on the same URL, we feel it makes conversation tidier rather than having a mish mash of comments, some of which are months old. It tends to confuse things.

I agree it's not an ideal system, but there isn't an easier workaround at present. Sorry for the confusion.

Tim Sutton

November 12, 2014, 8:37 pm

I quite enjoyed Black Flag, but that's enough Assassins Creed for me for at least two years.

There are reports all over the place that the game is littered with glitches and bugs, and on PC in particular I'd steer well clear of this one due to slow performance in general and some truly horrendous bugs. On PS4 too it runs terribly slowly with frequent drops under 20 FPS.

I won't link to any article in particular, but a quick Google of 'Assassins Creed Unity bugs' brings up about a million articles!

The issues are so bad they've actually crashed the value of Ubisoft shares by 10% since the game launched. (And, by the way, there was a 12 hour review embargo after launch. Never a sign of a game a publisher has confidence in.)

Anyway. Buyer beware and all that.

I'm not sure 9/10 for a buggy beta of a game that apparently doesn't work very well is justified... but to be fair I haven't played it!

EDIT: Also it's been asked before, but for multi-platform titles can you please state what system your review code was played on? Thanks.

warbutt the butt butt

November 12, 2014, 11:53 pm

As always it is all about the build of your PC, the average computer is going to get wrecked by this game. However the other top 5% of machines out there we are drooling over this game and we are happy campers.

This game is similar to the release of the original Crysis it hammered every piece of hardware out there besides the top end users. Ubisoft has done the same thing this game is pushing the limits of next gen to the max.

Here is my gameplay so far I only do intro commentary. Running i7 3770k, 16gb ram, and gtx 980 on 1440p maxed settings between 40-60fps. I did have to change my codec after the first few videos to smooth it out and get a little better quality so watching Sequence 2 Memory 2 or 3 and after runs very smooth and great quality =)

https://www.youtube.com/playli...

TrustedReviews Sam

November 13, 2014, 7:48 am

Hey there Tim,

I tried it out on Xbox One (pre-Day One patch) and then on PS4 after the patch. Before the patch there were definitely frame rate drop issues, but post Day One patch I didn't experience any at all.

ShinAkuma

November 13, 2014, 11:39 am

9/10 for a game that has in-game microtransactions - although the word "micro" is highly debatable, that is released from a developer who has made one of the most stupid nonsense ever uttered from a developer that the game looks objectively *BETTER* at 30 fps and not 60 fps and a horribly repeatative, unchanged, iterate game whose gameconcept hasn't changed since Assassins Creed 2. Did you guys even play the same game I did?
The fact that a full retailed price game HAS microtransaction should be a singificant negative attribute that should be mentioned in this review - and surprisingly enough it isn't. That fact that the BIG debate going on in this game, that its next gen and still runs at a resolution AND framerate similar to LAST-GEN and *BARELY* looks better than Assassins Creed 4 is not even mentioned in this review or seen as a real con is just mind blowing. Is trusted review under endorsment of UbiSoft? Is there any form of discolusure we as readers aren't getting because I cannot find a single form of critique towards this game in any way shape or form and it disturbs me that all the criticism this game has from other reviewers is just completely gone up in smoke on this page. Did you people even play the same game others did? Look at TotalBiscuits tech analysis of the game and the game looks and runs litterally so bad that there is no way in hell the game should receieve a 9/10. I am calling shenanigans on this.

Tim Sutton

November 13, 2014, 2:35 pm

Thanks for the reply Sam.

Guest

November 14, 2014, 4:19 am

how much did ubisoft pay for this review?

Lucid Meaghan Dhabolt

November 14, 2014, 1:48 pm

I'm wondering that myself. I nearly choked when I read a pro was "A
strong storyline". The storyline was cliche and terrible at that.

Hunter Ex

November 14, 2014, 4:36 pm

I guess it'll be better for normal PC's too soon. I have a GTX 770, also 16 gb RAM and a i7-4770K. If I turn of every piece of additional graphic settings, then it's playeable. It holds 50 fps. And well I think it only will be better becuz at the moment Nvidia still havent brought any drivers out for this game. So I hope it'll be better ^^

warbutt the butt butt

November 14, 2014, 5:55 pm

Yeah they released a optimized driver setting for the game the day before release. I think ubi needs to first release a patch to allow a better pipeline flow for the nvidia and ati cards.

Ionut U.

November 14, 2014, 6:30 pm

Gameplay PC: https://www.youtube.com/watch?...

Redglyph

November 14, 2014, 7:48 pm

Regarding the claimed 1:1 scale, I measured a couple of distances and it's closer to 1:2.8. The map is more or less accurate, at least the main landmarks.

There are a few noticeable historical inconsistencies, like the spire on the cathedrale Notre-Dame, which was actually destroyed a bit before the revolution (and which was completely different than the present one - the same shown in the game), or the huge front square, missing. Le Louvre is much smaller and there are lot of differences (when comparing to both the present palace and such as it was in 1789). And so on. So this gives the impression of walking in a decor which looks the same, but not quite, it's a weird feeling. At least they didn't put the Eiffel Tower ;-)

The history database is always a nice touch, though it's not always easy to take the time to read in the middle of a chase.

Overall it's great, and a lot of fun. I believe the population at the time, for the Ile de la Cité, was about 5000, so it's a wonder there are so many people in the street. Probably a bit of a show-off, we'd rather have a settings to have fewer NPC's (and better performances).

Redglyph

November 14, 2014, 7:59 pm

Those two reviews look extreme - TotalBiscuits being obsessed with little details, and yes, maybe sometimes big ... BIG details. Anyway, it was exagerated and not forgiving enough. And this one is clearly not honest enough, it doesn't deserve a 9/10 and is definitely not the pinnacle of the franchise! Black Flag was feeling like a pinnacle, not this disruptive instalment.
Hell, it's not even possible to hang people in plain sight, or to mount a horse, I miss that!
And those microtransactions... it's just a shame at this price.

Hunter Ex

November 14, 2014, 8:15 pm

yeah ^^

Sheikh Spere

November 15, 2014, 12:50 pm

Frames dropping seems to be a big issue for me. As well as the game mechanics seem quite flawed during freerunning. I'm actually doing a walkthrough review if you're interested. https://www.youtube.com/watch?...

SkullScience

November 15, 2014, 3:30 pm

I appreciate your time to reply and attempt to explain but my original comment was posted after a full review score had been posted, hence it was not a 'preview' comment. I am guessing there was some form of overlap.

serge

November 16, 2014, 1:22 pm

"Still a few bugs to be fixed" Really?
I don't think that AC Unity deserves a 9/10 at the moment, not in its current state.

Crazy Psycho

November 29, 2014, 12:38 pm

It's because performance, shouldn't and doesn't affect the game score, since performance isn't part of the game, it's part of the user exerience, which is Ubisoft's resposibilty and NOT the game's

Crazy Psycho

November 29, 2014, 12:39 pm

Performance, isn't part of the game, and shouldn't affect the score, performance is part of user experience, that should be delivered by ubisoft and not by the game iteself....
And yes the performance was horrific.

Rorshach Sridhar

December 1, 2014, 3:29 pm

That makes absolutely no sense. If a company is so fixated on gaining a profit that they will sacrifice quality, then the score should reflect that accordingly.

Joe Schmo

December 4, 2014, 3:12 am

Much like the shadiest mechanics' shops have the word "honest" in their business names, apparently video game review sites with the word "trusted" in them are the ones full of the most crap. This game should never have been released in its current terribly buggy state. And for you to give an almost unplayable game a 9/10 shows you lack any credibility, whatsoever.

Joe Schmo

December 4, 2014, 3:16 am

You are living up to your name, because what you just said makes absolutely no sense.

Bados ThE GreaT

December 30, 2014, 6:19 pm

and this site is called trusted Reviews, looks more to me like a site that gets paid by these companies to give good reviews about their Product, cause genuinely Assassin's Creed Unity was The worse of them All, Poor Performance which even the patch didn't and miserably fail to fix, Graphics were awful for a next gen title, ive seen better on previous assassin's creeds, this game deserves a 4 out of 10 and nothing more..i will not Trust Your Reviews if you're gonna just lie like that! -_-

Lastsingleplyronearth

April 19, 2015, 11:18 am

Cons:
1.milking us poor cash cows to death:
now they force you to purchase online activity in order to unlock gear! just sale the damn dlc and give me more side missions in single player.
2.repetitive:
"he stole my purse" or "hey bartender cough up the franks" over and over and OVER again!
3.lack of transportation:
no horses in this big ass city? boats? i understand why no ships, but no boats for the rivers? no moving coaches in town?
come on ,.. the assassin could jump on one of them and lay to hide and escape? i get it glitches /new gen blah blah, run on roofs the assassin's way.
4.lack of realism:
no interactions with the people,.. only when it's a murder case?
can't sit at cafe's and order some coffee, can't drink wine in the streets or pick up a cutie or two at a local brothel? and where are the children? the black plague keeps children from running in the streets, really?
5.the most complicated "earn and buy" system i have EVER seen,.. oh i get it ...NEXT GEN BLAH BLAH.

because of these cons, i give it 7 of 10, the realism is why i purchased the ps4,.. i keep going to my ps3 for fun... at least deliver on realism. glad they fix the broken glitches before i purchased the game. there are still floating people dropping from the sky,.. i would say i saw only 3 maybe 4 in about 9 hours of gameplay ,.. we know that can happen now or then.

i think this is my very last gaming system i'm buying,.. i have about every non-portable system sold, and many games for each since atari 2600. but it looks like they are so close to finally pushing the single player out of gaming, and now i see myself spending over $100 on just one game ,.. being forced to interact online / when all i been since the beginning was a solo gamer.

I get it, gaming is more lucrative in being a social tool and we are cash cows. i can't ever hate capitalism. just want to buy a game where there is no need to play online or buy dlc, help them sell a million off of true fans, then turn around and release all the dlc and the game as a best seller for less just to reward the ones who did not help the best sells. but i get this too,.. Let's repackage the same game and make it resale-able by insulting the ones who got us to this plateau.

the industry is finally sucking #@$!

rant is over...

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