Ryse Son of Rome Review


Platform: Xbox One

Developer: Crytek

Publisher: Microsoft Studios

Release Date: November 22, 2013

Showing off the graphical abilities of the Xbox One was definitely a top priority for Microsoft.  To pull that off, Microsoft teamed up with Crytek, the developer that brought you the Crysis series.  Ryse does what it was set out to do – look absolutely stunning.  The Xbox One glistens as each ray of light shines down on ancient Rome and each shadow looks absolutely amazing.  However, for a game that was QTE at E3, then communicated that it was far from QTE, turned out to be just that – QTE.

Ryse Son of Rome is set in ancient Rome when the height of the rebellion is at its peak.  You are Marius Titus, a Roman Centurion, who is fighting to protect Rome’s Emperor, Nero and avenge the slaying of his family.  Through the immersive realism, you perform brutal skirmishes to restore honor to Rome.

You begin with Nero bowing down to the God’s, whom he believes is responsible for the uprising in Rome.  Marius is dispatched to stop the overtaking of the palace and protect Nero at all costs.  Marius has his sword and shield at his disposal to wreak havoc on the unfortunate beings that step in his way.  The brutal blows are graphic and bloody, which turns out to be awesome!  To earn the most experience for Marius, the enemy’s body will have a skull above the head with a sword through it, indicating a brutal blow can be delivered once enough damage has been delivered.

During this slow motion brutal blow, the enemy’s body will glow a color indicating which button to press to earn the most experience.  Hit the wrong button?  That’s ok, you still deliver a brutal but you don’t get the maximum experience possible for that kill.  Multiple brutal blows can be performed when multiple enemies have the skull above their head, creating an even more awesome kill!

With the experience earned, you’re able to purchase upgrades for your health bar, focus, and other various key items that are supposed to help in battle.  However, the upgrades are lame and really don’t do much to assist.  Instead, you’re left with upgrading the way you dismember enemies.  This leaves you wanting more innovation in your character progression rather than the nominal upgrades.  As I progressed, I wondered if more could be unlocked.  Nope.  Just more dismembering moments and more health.  Honestly, that’s unfortunate being a launch title to a new system.

However, the visuals when performing various kills is absolutely remarkable.  The environment nails ancient Rome and the amount of time put into resembling the city is definitely apparent.  The city isn’t the only place Ryse shines.  Ryse also takes you to desolate beaches and ship wrecks that look remarkably real.  Each detail in the uniforms the army wears to the rebels clothing, each deliver amazing visuals.

In addition to slashing combat, Marius, at certain points in the game, can use a crossbow turret to fend off his attackers.  At other times, you command an army to launch catapults or march into battle to help you fight.  As you fight through Ryse’s short campaign, clocking in at approximately 7 hours on the hardest difficulty, you realize there is a lack of skill necessary and more button precision required to master.  Additionally, there is the lack of story co-op that could have really made the game more enjoyable.

Unfortunately, Ryse doesn’t do much to deviate from the hack and slash style play much more than that.  You hit X, over and over and over and over, well you get the point.  The gameplay gets so redundant that it’s just unacceptable.  It becomes evident that Ryse was created to be Kinect only and was changed to be a launch game aimed at the hardcore gamer.  Don’t get me wrong, dismembering people is fun in Ryse but the lack of a strong story and compassion for Marcus limits the replay probability for the game.

Ryse also suffers from the same issues in its gladiator style multiplayer.  You and a friend team up to fight side by side in the presence of spectators in a Colosseum.   Even though the visuals are stunning and the idea of an ever changing Colosseum is innovative, the actual fighting is not challenging at all.  It, too, becomes redundant after a few matches and definitely does not keep you wanting to come back for more.  Instead, it makes you wonder why so much is missing from the game.  Hopefully DLC is added to drastically improve this game, if not, it will definitely be a dust collector in your home!