#EGX previews: Ryse: Son of Rome

QTEs: Ryse above it

Or Ryse: Son of QTEs, as some have cruelly dubbed it. Much akin to the resurgence of the ‘Xbone’, the feature at the core of those complaints was all but absent in the co-op demo I got to play.

Not that there weren’t other, unrelated problems. The rep advised us (I made a point to hide my wristband) not to push the home button as it had “caused the game to crash”, and not to stand too close to the unit, as the power button is apparently highly sensitive.

I took to the mammoth queue in the hope that I might debunk some prevailing views about Crytek’s latest work, usually a studio of high standards. In that regard, I wasn’t disappointed. Combat was enjoyable, with much clattering of swords and shields, attack chaining and satisfying kill animations, and the graphics, though not a mouthwatering improvement, are at least akin to a good PC.

I think QTEs were present in some form. I can’t really be sure. There were slow-mo finishers akin to what we saw at E3, but I didn’t see any prompts, and whatever button I pressed seemed to be successful in delivering bloody justice. I don’t know how I initiated them, but any kill came as a welcome reprieve.

The one, glaring issue at the centre of combat was finding yourself surrounded. Rather than taking the Witcher route of ‘don’t do that, you’ll die’, Ryse instead allows you to parry to your heart’s content, timing shield blocks to stun the enemy behind you while engaged in combat with another.

The problem is that you can never get any damage dealing attack off. Even with two opponents, if you stun one and turn to attack another, they recover before your attack animation has finished and interrupt it.

This necessitates working together, something which my randomly assigned partner and I, still working out the controls, weren’t liable to do. But even when we found each other engaged in swordplay, the controls weren’t tight enough to target the right opponents, often lunging for your ally completely by accident. My discovery of a huge, area effect lightning power effectively rendered the rest of the demo redundant.

No doubt you’ll be interested in the hardware itself. You probably want a proper look from a site with access to it, but the controller – the great advantage of the 360, for me – has hardly changed, perhaps a shade lighter and slimmer. The spacing of the analogue sticks felt slightly different, but with the addition of a proper D-Pad, it still feels the better of the two next-gen controllers for my distinctly tiny hands.

The power button, though? They might want to get that sorted.