When taking a gander at various previews of Ryse: Son of Rome, the major consensus is that the highly touted Xbox One exclusive falls short with lackluster gameplay.
If you’re like me, sometime in your life you’ve always wanted to be a deadly centurion clashing steel with hordes of barbarians for the glory of the Roman Empire.
When Ryse: Son of Rome was announced as a launch title for Microsoft’s Xbox One console, it appeared that this fantasy might come to fruition after all. With Crytek at the helm and the unique blend of hack-and-slash action with an authentic historical atmosphere, everything seemed to be going well.
The impressive graphics also added to the allure of Ryse whilst showcasing the Xbox One’s graphical fidelity in the process. Overall the impression lent an epic feel with a lot of potential, almost something like a Hollywood flick; there’s tons of on-screen action that takes place across a variety of dazzling environments, painting the might of the Roman Empire in stunning detail.
Unfortunately that fantasy pulls away quite fast and reality sinks in when gamers actually get their hands on a controller.
The general consensus of various previewers is that Ryse‘s gameplay mechanics are uninspired and rather monotonous, and aren’t befitting for a next-gen launch title for a big-name console.
Dan Ryckert at Game Informer, who recounted his experience by saying the game “had all the complexity of dialing phone numbers, actually was so bored that he tried playing the game with one hand:
“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.”
Joystiq‘s David Hinkle had similar sentiments about Ryse‘s beat-em-up style tedium:
“After jumping through a few levels in the campaign, I grew tired of the gameplay loop of moving from area to area in order to kill the next group of barbarians.
“Ryse never hit a good stride and, in my brief amount of time with it, was all too content to beat me into submission through combat sequences repeated ad nauseam. The game offered little hope its campaign is intent on presenting anything to the contrary.”
The game essentially makes use of button-spamming mechanics, and when enemies are worn down enough an execution prompt comes up and players hit the appropriate button. While it’s true that Crytek’s period title has some pretty nice visuals, the novelty seems to wear off quite fast once players end up doing the same thing–that is killing barbarians–over and over again.
While the methods of execution are different and the mechanics revolve around Marius Titus’ ability to slow-down combat as well as chain combos and kills, Ryse fails to deliver the gratification of a kill because players are instantly thrown into the midst of yet another battle.
On the other end of the spectrum, The Inquirer reports a very different scenario with their hands-on time with Ryse, and aptly describes the game’s mash-up mechanics:
“We found Ryse: Son of Rome combat uses a brawling mechanic that we could best describe as a mix between Koei’s Dynasty Warriors and Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed series. Ryse: Son of Rome offers you four basic options.
“You can swing your sword using the X button, bash an enemy with your shield using the Y button, block an incoming strike with the A button or roll away using the B button. At a glance, this makes Ryse: Son of Rome seem dangerously close to a basic button basher.”
Overall the game appears as if it doesn’t capitalize on basic structures associated with the genres it tries to mirror, and doesn’t adequately facilitate rewarding gameplay. The game does, however, seem to have a unique method to its brawling, and might just be a specific acquired taste.
The visuals have been praised universally, however, which is a testament to the Xbox One’s upscaling capabilities to say the least, as Ryse has been confirmed to be upscaled from native 900p to 1080p.
Microsoft put a lot of stake into Ryse, and it will be interesting to see if the reviews on the full game differ any than the consensus on the game’s previews.
Ryse certainly is a flashy game–even for a game that’s been confirmed at native 900p resolution–and more than a few gamers will no-doubt enjoy their time, yet it appears that Crytek’s launch title crumples on its own weight and falls into disarray somewhat akin to the actual fate of the Roman Empire.
Ryse: Son of Rome releases on Nov. 22, 2013 alongside Microsoft’s next-gen Xbox One console. A season pass that includes access to all four DLC packs for $19.99 will also be available on the game’s launch.