E3 2013: ‘Ryse: Son of Rome’ Hands-On – Pretty, but Dumb

Posted by on June 14, 2013 at 3:55 pm


One of Microsoft’s tent pole action games for the November release of their new Xbox One console is Ryse: Son of Rome. Yesterday I went mono-y-mono with the Ryse demo in Microsoft’s E3 booth, and I found that while the game features some incredible graphics and cinematic visuals, the combat is quite brainless, unfortunately.

In the demo you play as Roman General Marius Titus as he storms the beach with his shiny-armored pals to destroy a Barbarian tower. Right away, I was impressed by the game’s amazing graphics. You can see why Microsoft is using Ryse to show off its next-gen hardware. The soldier’s armor is gorgeously reflective, the animations look solid and if the game is constantly panning around to maintain a sense of cinematic action.

Guys, I'm really proud of how well you shined your armor. Now let's hit the runway!

Guys, I’m really proud of how well you shined your armor. Now let’s hit the runway!

But then I got to the actual combat and my heart sank. If you saw Microsoft’s E3 Press Conference, then you probably know what I’m talking about. The combat consists of bashing your enemy with button presses to wear him down and then quick-time events to initiate finishing moves. And it gets old really fast.

Different face buttons do different things – block and push enemies with your shield, swing your sword, and so on – but it all builds toward the intrusive quick time events. With just about every enemy, the game slows to a dramatic crawl, an “X,” “Y,” or “B” pops up, and if you press it then you get a slick-looking execution. Marius slices throats, kicks baddies off cliffs, and smashes skulls with his shield. There are supposed to be over 100 different kill animations. Collect them all!

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