Ryse: Son of Rome plunges you into a world of violence as Marius Titus, a man hell-bent on revenge, who embarks on a journey filled with betrayal, vengeance, and divine intervention. In his quest, he raised the ranks of the Roman army in Britannia, led the war against the Barbarian horde, and must save Rome from utter ruin. It’s a full-fledged onslaught of next-gen violence and a wicked portrayal of what’s to come in the new age of console gaming.
Despite my praise, this game is not flawless. To put it simply, this game is disappointingly short. Six to eight hours of gameplay that inevitably left me disappointed at the fact that this was all that was mustered for a day one exclusive. The narrative amounted to a simple trail of vengeance that bore a resemblance to the average action-oriented title. All action and little story. It’s not necessarily a bad thing and the narrative itself was, in fact, entertaining, but a day one exclusive that I can beat in an afternoon really isn’t that impressive.
What was impressive was the level of graphical detail in Ryse: Son of Rome. In many of the demos that Microsoft showed of the Xbox One, Ryse: Son of Rome was at the forefront. Crytek is well known for their level of graphical detail, did an excellent job at utilizing the Xbox One’s hardware to give us an amazing aesthetic experience. Environments were lush and teeming with life (or violence) and combat was filled with graphic gore and stunning character models. To say the least, this is the game that defines the graphical leap from the Xbox 360 to the Xbox One.
Unfortunately for Ryse: Son of Rome, graphics are not what keeps us interested. For obvious reasons, solid gameplay and a varying combat system must remain relatively interesting throughout the duration of the game to keep a player engaged. It’s here that Ryse: Son of Rome lost some of its appeal.
The combat system is dreadfully simple. X = a sword attack, Y = a shield attack, B/A reflect attacks from swords, arrows, and almost anything else. You apply the necessary combinations to your enemies with precise timing and then you are given a chance to brutally execute your enemy of choice. There’s a combo meter, multiplier, and special abilities you can utilize if you string together enough attacks/kills. These abilities can be energy recovery, damage boost, Fury (which stuns surrounding enemies), and bonus experience. You get experience for a kill which lead to new skills that make your current abilities stronger and/or more efficient… and that’s it. It’s the fact that I can describe every aspect of the combat system into a single concise paragraph that displays how basic the mechanics to this game are.
Are they bad mechanics? No. Despite the minimal combat system, the combat, itself, is entertaining and gruesome. The only issue is that after the first two or three hours of playing, I’d seen it all before. The executions became repetitive. The combat became monotonous. And I felt like I was just grinding my way to the end of the game.
Luckily for Ryse: Son of Rome, there is a co-operative multiplayer aspect (or a singleplayer one if you’re not a socialite) called Gladiator, a mode separate to the main story. You and a friend team up in ten different battles or simply in the Coliseum to fight hordes of enemies. Each gladiator devotes himself or herself to a deity (Jupiter, Mars, Apollo, and Diana) and receives specific rewards from their deity at the end of each round.
If somehow you’re an impatient fellow who doesn’t enjoy grinding up the ranks in a game or devoting yourself to deity, Microsoft and Crytek have also offered you the wondrous addition of microtransactions. You pay for tokens that you use to buy special pieces of equipment and consumables and what not. It’s a lazy and relatively costly choice of progression but if you want to skip your devotion to a deity and lessen an already minimal experience then by all means, spend away.
Nevertheless, Ryse: Son of Rome is not a bad game. It has a strong/simple narrative based heavily on action and aesthetic with brutal combat and an entertaining co-operative multiplayer. It lacks a bit in length and has a repetitive/monotonous combat system but it isn’t anything horrendous.