Ryse: Son of Rome Xbox One preview
Microsoft is very proud of its history with exclusive intellectual properties, and rightly so: Halo, Gears of War, Forza Motorsport, Fable, Viva Pinata... Well, perhaps not the last so much.
That is why it's a big deal when it reveals an all-new IP, one that will even be a launch title for the company's shiny new next-generation console, the Xbox One. Ryse: Son of Rome has to have big shoulders to carry such a burden and, thankfully, it does. Literally.
The first thing that strikes you about Marius Titus, the lead character in this Roman hack 'em up, is that he is massive on screen. This is a third-person game and Titus takes up a fair old portion of the playing field. However, cleverly, when something looms in that you need to keep track of, he ducks out sideways a touch, so you never feel that your view is impaired.
At least, that's in the demo. The playable level Pocket-lint has had a go with is the same as was shown during the Xbox E3 Media event on Monday (10 June). In it, you have a Roman soldier version of the Omaha beach landing, with local barbarians appearing from seemingly every corner to try to rip you from limb to limb.
You therefore learn the close quarter fight mechanism and combo controls as you progress up the sands, while spectacular - and we mean spectacular - events go on all around you. There is so much going on, all in real-time using the game engine, that you can immediately see that it would not be possible to make Ryse: Son of Rome for the Xbox 360.
Crytek is not one for bland, uninteresting graphics, and the developer makes great use of every rendering trick in the book. Even just for this opening sequence.
It is cinematic, brutal and gets your heart pumping as you play. It's unfair to levy any true criticisms at this stage in its development, but the only negative we did find is that the combat is more clunky and forcibly paced than, say, God of War. But that hasn't done the Batman: Arkham series any harm.
We'd like to see more variety somewhere down the line, with different gameplay styles coming into play - the shield march was a great element, for example - but from this outing we're certainly impressed.
In fact, it's as impressive standing behind watching someone playing it almost as much as playing it yourself. We've a feeling this will become a common theme with next-generation titles.
Ryse: Son of Rome is a launch title for the Xbox One so will be out in November.