Ryse: Son of Rome Xbox One Review

January 24, 2014 by  
Filed under Xbox One, Reviews & Features, Xbox

Publisher: Microsoft  Developer: Crytek  Genre: Action  Players: 1-2  Age Rating: 18+

Other console/handheld formats: N/A

In the case of Ryse: Son of Rome, it’s a meeting of old and new: old because the game takes us back to ancient Rome and new because it’s on brand new console hardware. With the game being a part of Microsoft’s Xbox One launch line-up, this is certainly one of the games that shouts to the world that next generation gaming consoles have arrived.

Ryse: Son of Rome tells the story of Marius Titus, a Roman soldier who is seeking vengeance for the death of his family. The story is fairly entertaining and the voice acting is up there with the best, with some truly spirited performances from many of the members of the cast. The performance captured facial animations also adds to these amazing performances, and these are virtual characters that very much resemble real people through their mannerisms and their acting. Those who are seeking historical accuracy won’t find it in Ryse though, as the story plays around with history in a way that will be difficult to digest for some players.

If you are coming into Ryse: Son of Rome expecting action, then you get action, and lots of it. In fact, the game places you into the thick of the action from the outset, with instructions popping up on the screen to indicate how to control Marius in combat. Speaking of which, the combat of the game is simple but fun, with a dashing of depth for those who may want it.

The game has two attack buttons, of which are a sword strike and a shield bash. The two attacks can be combined, with well timed sword strikes earning you more experience, and the shield bash can be used to break through the defence of enemies carrying shields. Holding down the attacks buttons meanwhile causes Marius to inflict heavy strikes, and he is also able to block and parry with his shield and roll out of the way of enemy attacks. Then there’s the executions.

Being set in such a violent period, there’s no lack of impalement and dismemberment in Ryse: Son of Rome, and it’s the executions where this is largely highlighted. When you have beaten the enemies to an inch of their lives, you are then able to extinguish these lives with pressing the execution button. The executions are beautifully animated and have you pressing the same coloured button as the colour that the enemies glow, and the faster you do it, the more experience you’ll earn. There’s also double executions if you have whittled the health of two enemies down, and getting the ‘legendary’ rank of an execution after the animation comes to an end is rather satisfying.

Executions cannot be failed, as the animations play out in exactly the same way every time, which may be disappointing and repetitive for some, although the timing based nature is rewarding, and as each execution requires the same combination of button presses each time you perform it, it means you are able to learn the button presses and timing for each one, which hopefully will result in lots and lots of legendary executions in your journey throughout the game.

The executions are also rewarding in the way that they can do everything from restore portions of your health and focus, as well as give you extra XP or cause you to inflict more damage. Switching between these perks adds some strategy to the game, and is particularly helpful on the tougher difficulty levels.

Marius also has a focus ability, which slows down the action when it is activated, allowing you to carve through enemies whom can’t do absolutely anything about it. When it all comes together, the combat is fast and fluid, although it is marred by repetitive enemy types and the issues that I already mentioned in regard to the executions.

Another of Ryse: Son of Rome’s flaws is that there’s lots and lots of combat, but little to break things up between. True, you sometimes find yourself in a shield wall as you march forward and shield yourself from barrages of arrows, there’s occasionally small pauses in which you can determine where your AI soldiers are positioned, and you also get the use of a catapult every now and then, but other than this it’s swordplay after swordplay. Yes, the combat is fun, but some exploring or something else that could have given a breather from it from time to time would have been welcome.

Fortunately, the game doesn’t outstay its welcome, and can be completed within 6-7 hours. There are scrolls and vistas to be found in the beautiful environments, so there’s reason to return for those that like finding objects and who may have missed them during their first play through of a stage.

As I’ve already mentioned, Ryse: Son of Rome also has an XP system. You’ll earn Valour throughout the game and you can use this to upgrade your health, focus and your execution moves. If you’d rather not wait to earn the Valour that is required, Microtransactions are available, although they fortunately aren’t forced on you in any way, and I mean this in both the campaign and the multiplayer.

Visually, Ryse: Son of Rome is the best looking next generation game I’ve played so far. The detail in everything from the character models and environments to the fire, lighting and particle effects is immense. I’ve already mentioned the wonderfully convincing facial animation, and the detail in the armour is also mightily impressive. It’s also a very highly polished game, with few drops in the frame-rate or many graphical glitches to be seen.

Ryse: Son of Rome also has a rather good multiplayer mode, which has you fighting through the Roman Colosseum with another player. At the start of a match you choose a god, of which have their own unique bonuses that you are rewarded with through each execution kill. The multiplayer mode is cooperative, and you and your partner are given a number of different tasks to accomplish. Of course if you have issues with the single player portion of the game, the multiplayer also has some of the same issues, but if you get on well with the combat in the single player, then you’ll enjoy using it here with another player beside you in the game.

Ryse: Son of Rome isn’t the best game that the world has ever seen, but it’s certainly an impressive enough launch title for Microsoft’s third console. The combat, while suffering from repetition, has a nice flow to it and the visuals are some of the most impressive ever seen in a console game. If Ryse is ever to get a sequel, hopefully the extra development time would result in giving players more to do as opposed to fight after fight, and also some tweaks to the combat. As it stands though, Ryse: Son of Rome is a fun, stunning and impeccably voiced game in which no expense has obviously been spared.