Usually hands-on previews are a way for publishers to butter up gaming journalists; the previews tie-in with exclusive coverage of a game that can help drive hits on aggregators and news circles; it's like getting handed some wine and cheese before looking at an unfinished painting. Exclusive access to an unfinished game for a “positive” write-up is how things used to be done. Thankfully, things are changing ...and for the better. IGN's hands-on preview of Ryse is proof of that change, as it was encouraging, enlightening and brutally honest.
Just earlier I tossed up some footage of the multiplayer combat from Ryse where I noted how sloppy a lot of the combat came off and how shoddy the hit detection was... I was not alone. IGN's Damon Hatfield and Mitch Dyer spared no expense to tell it exactly how it is with Ryse, a game that's consistently been in the spotlight for a lack of polish and prestige.
As noted in the video above, they blatantly say that the graphics do not feel “next-gen” and that a lot of the combat came off as “boring”. They also comment on something I wasn't entirely sure about but has now been confirmed: the cinematic executions get boring pretty quick because they're quite repetitive.
One of the reasons the game conjures up that old feeling of boredom is because first of all, the enemies don't seem important or carry any sort of weight as a threat to the player at all. They just seem like generic sword fodder for the masses. It's hard to want to see these guys get killed when they haven't done anything but step in front of you.
Worse yet – and as mentioned in the previous article – since this game lacks the stylistic weapon-handling panache of Dynasty Warriors we're looking at a game that just fails miserably at being entertaining since the whole goal is to kill people and killing people in Ryse is a perfunctory gore-fest. I wasn't entirely sure before, but I now know why the combat looks so shoddy: the in-game results of the motion capture techniques look bland and uninspired. It's hard to think the sword fights are cool when they don't look cool and they certainly don't feel inspired.
However, it's not all peas on a plate without a steak. Dyer and Hatfield at least comment that there is some strong potential sheathed within the design of Ryse and I do agree. The game's premise is solid and the scope is there, the problem is that it feels like Ryse is still just a glorified tech demo.
Most people all agree on the same thing: Crytek needs to fix up the animations, smooth out the hit detection, clean up the counters and blocking, and balance out the pace so the combat feels smooth and challenging as opposed to boring and trite.
Hopefully the developers can pull it all together tight and whip out a classic launch title for the Xbox One this November. Also, props to IGN for telling it like it is leading up to release. At least we're not looking at another Colonial Marines media fiasco.