Eurogamer Expo 2013: Ryse: Son of Rome Hands On

It’s fair to say Ryse’s E3 demo left people in two camps somewhat. Sure, it looked astounding with explosions throwing people in the air, arrows raining from above an finding targets almost randomly. It was chaos and it looked beautiful except for one thing, every kill in the demo was executed via a button prompt. Some weren’t impressed and I was one of them until I went hands on with it this weekend at the Eurogamer Expo in London.

Although I didn’t get to play the atheistically impressive beach landing scene from the E3 demo, I did get my hands on with the Gladiator mode the game sports. Players must fight hordes of enemies in gladiator arenas. But of course, this is ancient Rome and the crowds demand a good show so this is where the game got interesting. Players have to pull off some pretty creative kills to get the crowds attention, love and support. Ancient Rome was a brutal place.

With this hands on demo, I took a sigh of relief at finally being able to take solace in the fact that Ryse isn’t a QTE-fest. It actually has some pretty complex combat for the most part. For example, there is no block button so you must learn to parry instead. Parrying deflects your enemies attacks and thus allows you to throw them off guard so you can deliver a fatal blow. Once you attack an enemy enough they’ll be open to an execution which you can perform by pressing B. However, you can choose not to execute them and instead just kill them in a non-spectacular way.

However, Ryse’s controls are a bit of a mixed bag. They’re not QTE-based, sure but they’re kind of fiddly. At times I was pulling off impressive moves and the next it felt like I was merely button-mashing to kill the enemy. There’s a bunch of button’s that do things but I wasn’t able to understand what they do as many of the moves weren’t really assigned to conventional controls. It’s a learning curve I’m sure but all the same, some clarity would’ve gone a long way.

Graphically, Ryse is the best looking game I saw this weekend along with Killzone: Shadow Fall and Wolfenstein: The New Order. The light shines off of Roman armour, water splashes up against men’s legs in knee deep water and blood splatters over shields and swords in an almost uncomfortably realistic way.

There are some kinks to work out with Ryse, but it’s worth looking forward to.

George Sinclair is the Chief News Editor for Analog Addiction, the home of the latest news, reviews and previews. You can