The lights are on
If you’ve ever watched Lost, you’re familiar with the character of Desmond Hume. The former monk was stranded on the series’ mysterious island, and was tasked with repeatedly pressing the same series of buttons on a keyboard for weeks at a time. Why he had to do that is still pretty confusing to me (as is the rest of the series), but I was reminded of Desmond’s task for the duration of my time with the demo for Ryse: Son of Rome. I spent two hours with the Xbox One title, but it felt like I was entering random numbers into a computer rather than actually playing a video game.
It’s clear what Microsoft and developer Crytek are shooting for here. At launch, they want a big budget, epic action game that clearly demonstrates next-gen visuals. Ryse is undeniably pretty, but that’s about all it had going for it in this demo. After a painfully generic story intro, the game began teaching me similarly uninspired combat mechanics. While it tries to sound like an in-depth action game with familiar elements like perfectly-timed blocks and focus meters, the actual experience is anything but deep.
I’m hoping that later levels introduce some more difficult enemies, as the dozens of encounters I had consisted of all the complexity of dialing phone numbers. Almost every fight started with me hitting the attack button a couple of times, then pushing the enemy in an effort to stop him from breaking my combo. Then, I’d continue attacking until he was weak enough for the execution sequence. Once this occurs, the game slows down and the enemy flashes various colors. You press the face button of the appropriate color, and your protagonist Marius dismembers or murders the foe in dramatic fashion.
It’s so basic and predictable, I began testing to see if I could get past most combat situations with one hand. With my left hand completely off the controller, I was able to slice and dice through tons of enemies simply by inputting the same sequence ad nauseum. On a couple of occasions, the game would shift to sequences that involved me defending an area with crossbow stations or ordering my men to block arrows with their shields. These were somehow even less exciting than the tedious swordplay.
When I sat down at the Ryse: Son of Rome station, I was a fairly blank slate when it came to knowledge of the title. I knew it was developed by the talented team at Crytek, and I knew it was gorgeous based on the videos I had seen at conventions, so I was prepared to be impressed. What I didn’t expect was a desire to get up and leave the demo about ten minutes in. I stuck it out in hopes that it would prove itself a deeper experience over time, but its only success was ensuring my wallet will be $60 heavier when the Xbox One launches.
Ouch. I thought this one would go far.
Hey, some people think dialing phone numbers is fun. I didn't think this game looked all that great, so I'm not completely surprised.
I think this is going to be Microsoft's L.A.I.R. When I very first saw the trailer at E3 I was excited, then they started showing how it was actually played and I was like wow, that doesn't look very good. Usually you guys seem to walk away optimistic about most games you play at preview. Either companies are not letting you play their games enough to see the crappy or parts or they are pulling a Gearbox o you the way they did with Aliens and giving you a better demo than the core game. Either way you guys usually walk away optimistic about the game, but here it's like..."Umm...can I stop playing your game? It kinda blows."
Pretty much the instant I saw the gameplay trailers for this, I knew it was going to consist of mostly button-mashing. You could just tell. That said, I didn't think it was going to be QUITE so dismal.
Not surprised. This is exactly what the game looked like when it was demoed before.
That is unfortunate. Not exactly surprising, though, coming from a company that thinks graphics are the most important part of a game.
Damn, this is dishearening. It looked fun from the gameplay videos. I'm really interested in the graphics and story, but hearing that the story has been stale 2 hours in isn't good either. Maybe I won't pick this title up after all...
Thanks for the preview, Dan. Now I know when I'm looking over reviews, to keep a close eye on how much they value graphics.
hmm this doesnt bode well for the game...i will get it on the cheap
Seriously, Dan, thank you. I played this game back in August at GameStop Expo and haven't seen a whole lot of coverage on Ryse leading up to it's launch. I wonder why.... Hmmmm... Maybe because it's sh*t? I felt the same way as you, Dan, except I did only have to play 10 minutes. I can only imagine playing two whole hours. God...
I just really wish more people could get a chance to play this game before it launches. All you need is a minute with this game and that would be enough to turn any prospective buyer away from this mess forever.