The first thing we noticed about our hands-on demo with Ryse: Son of Rome was just how gorgeous it looked up close. It's one thing to see a next-gen game through a conference livestream, but seeing one in action is a whole different beast--and this game looks downright incredible. The second thing we noticed about our hands-on demo? How much it felt like a Kinect game converted into a controller-based experience.
As Marius Titus, we led our troops into battle, cutting down dozens of bad guys with super brutal melee animations. Each combat encounter consisted of performing timed combo strikes that we had to punctuate by blocking incoming enemy attacks. After opponents were weakened, we then initiated a QTE to take them down for good. While these mano a mano kills were fun to watch, they were pretty boring in practice, especially considering we couldn't actually fail one. Should you choose an incorrect input, Titus simply performs a less spectacular finisher move. An experience point-based progression system provides some neat perks--like increased XP rewards or HP replenishing strikes--for landing flawless blows, but there's hardly any punishment for failing to do so.
Formation sections, where Titus must command his troops, changed things up a bit, but they felt awfully restricting. In one segment, we had to command a number of soldiers to move forward as a unit, raising their shields to block incoming arrow volleys before returning fire with spear throws. Still, the developers said there'd be a lot more variation in these types of scenarios, as well as combat and the seemingly linear level design overall. Considering Ryse won't be hitting retail shelves until November, we hope its gameplay ends up matching its impressive visuals.
Check out the following images for more info.