Ryse: Son of Rome
Very simple, very easy, very linear 3D brawler with good graphics and cinematics, and nice enough story-telling, even though the story is rather predictable and not all that great, but still, it managed to keep me interested. They took a lot of liberties with history and mythology, or better yet, the game seems to be set in an alternative line of history, and even the language sounded a bit off for the setting at times ("yes, sir", "open fire"), not to mention some other silly oversights (swimming with armor etc.), but it was entertaining all the same, or even because of that. The game looks and sounds pretty good, and playing it is like watching a Hollywood movie.
The gameplay on the other hand is very repetitive. You can attack, block, shield bash and dodge, and that's all you need to do in melee from the beginning to the end. You don't learn any extra moves or special combos, and you don't need them to defeat all the opponents either. There is some mild variation in the opponents, but they can all be defeated in the same way. And the boss fights are the same, only that they defend better against some attacks than others, e.g. shield bash might not work as well, so you just block and counter-attack instead. And the rest, finishers or special defenses, are handled by QTEs, highlighting the opponents in the colors of the Xbox gamepad buttons to press. The finishers can fill up your health or "focus" etc. And you have one special attack that costs "focus" and slows down time. And that's all there is to the brawler.
The brawler gameplay sometimes alternates with other styles, like the obligatory AAA action game turret sections (with auto-aim, to a certain degree), shield wall (move forward, block arrows and command to shoot), throwing of pila (auto-aim), and sometimes you take over command and can decide between two defense strategies for your Roman troops, when you're not fighting on your own. All of these gameplay elements are very simple, but they help to ease the repetitiveness of the melee combat and keep things somewhat interesting.
There are also RPG elements like leveling up and spending your XP on various "skills", but they are pretty insignificant and mostly only determine how much health, focus etc. you can store and how much health, focus etc. you gain by finishers. The latter made the game even easier (on Normal difficulty). I never really bothered with the other "skills", I just set the finishers to restore my health, so every time I defeated an opponent, I got at least half if not most of my health back.
And there are some nice collectible rewards in the game (comic book pages), but if you ask me, I think collectibles have no place in a linear story-telling game like this. There is hardly room for exploration, as you just run ahead along the corridors the game opens for you and then often shuts behind you, so hunting for collectibles is just looking in every corner of the corridors, hoping not for overlook anything, because you can never come back for it, and you probably wouldn't want to replay the whole campaign after learning the whole story once, seeing how simple and repetitive the gameplay is. Apart from that, searching for collectibles in every corner seriously undermines the urgency of the matters in the story and breaks immersion (I thought the same about Spec Ops: The Line; it's just silly to put collectibles in games like that).
Not sure if I would recommend the game to anyone, but I had a bit of fun with it nevertheless, despite all its flaws, and the campaign is just 6 hours long or so.
Post edited February 18, 2017 by Leroux