Assassin's Creed is Ubisoft long-running tentpole series. It started in the Holy Land during the Crusades to the far-reaching terrains of Ancient Greece and now the latest chapter will be set in feudal Japan. We have always thought that shinobis would be a natural fit in a series about assassins but given the glut of the Assassin's Creed world, can this latest instalment reinvigorate the franchise?

Assassin's Creed: Shadows was first known as Assassin's Creed: Codename Red when it was leaked in 2022. (It was leaked alongside another game-in-development, Assassin's Creed: Codename Hexe—about the witch trials in the Holy Roman Empire.) Shadows was further leaked at store listings while a marketing push was made via an ARG that led fans to the number, "1579", which is the year when the first Black samurai, Yasuke, was believed to arrive in Japan.

The Trailer

You'll get to see Yasuke in the trailer, alongside Naoe, as the two of them embark on a quest against the backdrop of civil wars and social upheavals during the Sengoku period. It appears that you can switch between Naoe and Yasuke with different play styles—stealthily as a shinobi or more combat-based as a samurai, respectively. Players get to explore an open-world feudal Japan, where according to Ubisoft's creative director, Jonathan Dumont, Shadows will be "a little bit more to the size of Assassin's Creed Origins".

Other reported features for Shadows include a light metre, where you can snuff out light sources so that you can hide in the shadows; there will be a settlement system with customisable buildings, dojos, shrines, armoury and more; seasonal changes that will impact the environment you're in.

The trailer looks promising. And given the sudden interest in historic Japan, it's high time that we have a Japan-centric chapter to the Assassin's Creed franchise.

Assassin's Creed: Shadows is expected to be released on 15 November, 2024 and is available for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S. Pre-orders are now open.

APPLE

Before Apple announced something in their burgeoning pipeline, you usually know what to expect. Because there wasn't an update for the iPad line last year, this is the year where the smart money should be when an iPad announcement would be made. And what an announcement it was.

Last week, we reported on-site about a revamp to the iPad line-up. A 13-inch option is added to the iPad Air family with both 10- and 13-inch models powered by the M2 chip and an improved Apple Pencil the Apple Pencil Pro. Of course, there was the reveal of the iPad Pro, that's available in either a 10- or 13-inch. The iPad Pro comes with an Ultra Retina XDR display with state-of-the-art tandem OLED tech. "Tandem" in the sense that two OLED panels are stacked on top of the other so it gets that 1,600 nits peak for HDR.

The previous iPad Pro model suffered from blooming (aka "the halo effect", where light from isolated bright objects on a screen bleeds into darker surrounding areas) but for this latest iPad Pro, we saw perfect blacks and very exacting per-pixel illumination.

It's How Thin?!

Which brings us to the miracle of the iPad Pro's width. It holds the honour of not only being the thinnest in the iPad Pro line but also in Apple's entire catalogue. The last thin contender was the iPod Nano at 5.4mm; the iPad Pro 11-inch measures 5.3mm while the 13-inch is a mind-boggling 5.1mm. With that sort of measurement, it's hard to wrap your head around the idea of a "tandem OLED panels".

What's surprising is the chipset used in the iPad Pro. The previous iPad Pro model is outfitted with an M2 chip but for this year's model, Apple introduced the M4 chip. Bear in mind that Apple's latest chipset was the M3 for the MacBook Air so very few expected that the brand would skip the M3 and use an upgraded Apple silicone for its iPad Pro line-up. For an iPad Pro to be that thin, there needs to be a chipset that's able to handle the performance.

Siao, hor. Look at how thin it is. APPLE

Thus, the M4 with the promise of better CPU and GPU performances. The M4 chip is supposed to make things more "efficient". There's a new display engine, dynamic caching (caching improves response time and reduces system load) and hardware-accelerated ray tracing (light simulation in games). A couple of online games we tried performed swimmingly. According to Apple, when compared to the M2 chip, the M4 delivers the same performance only using half the power.

(We are unable to push the M4 potential at this point of writing but we'll update this in future.)

Dock the iPad Pro with the upgraded Magic Keyboard (added function keys, larger trackpad) and voilá, a MacBook. It's a simplified descriptor but with the iPad Pro as it is, as a tablet, it is an overkill. With workflow, it holds its own. It's almost like my MacBook, where I type my e-mails on it; draft out stories... hell, I'm writing this article on the iPad Pro.

A Reworked Model

The front-facing camera is now moved to the—hallelujah—middle of the horizontal bezel. Muy useful now for that pantless work meeting (my house, my rules). But because of the relocation of the camera, everything else has to shift. Remember the Apple Pencil Pro? To dock it, you can place the stylus on the horizontal side but because of the new front-facing camera position, the magnetic interface needs to shift along the bezel, which means the hardware of the Apple Pencil Pro needs to adapt to the new docking system. Thus, your new Apple Pencil Pro only works with this year's iPad Pro and iPad Air models; it's not backwards compatible with previous iPad models.

Give and take, I guess.

But the Apple Pencil Pro sure is something. It has more capabilities like the squeeze function, where depressing the sides brings up more options on the screen. There's the added haptic feedback, which adds more tactile-ness to using the stylus. Also, there's the barrel roll effect.

Uh, not that. More like this.

APPLE

A slight roll of the stylus allows the versatility of the nib to perform those calligraphic flourishes or shading. There are other nuanced touches such as the appearance of the stylus' shadow on the screen (this isn't projected by an external light source) and hovering the Apple Pencil Pro will show a preview of where the pencil will contact with the display. Finally, if you misplace the Apple Pencil Pro, you can locate it with the Find My app.

The iPad Pro is available in two colourways—silver and space black. The 11-inch version starts at SGD1,499 and the 13-inch device starts at SGD1,999.

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