Cyrtek’s Ryse: Son of Rome has had a difficult journey to release, originally announced as a Kinect only Xbox 360 game way back E3 2011. Since then the game has moved to Xbox One and is no longer Kinect only. But has this transition effected the game?
In Ryse: Son Of Rome you play a young Roman Soldier called Marius Titus, whose family are brutally murdered at the hands of bandits. You start the game in Rome, repelling a Barbarian attack which leads you to rescuing Emperor Nero. You then lead him in to a secret chamber to discuss your past and play out each mission that is being described in your story.
The opening cut scene, which pans and meanders around the Barbarian attack, is jaw-dropping. In fact, the entire game is stunning to behold and one of the few Xbox One games that really shows the graphical leap from last-gen. Everything from the facial animations to the fire effects, to the sheer amount going on screen at once is fantastic. More so when you consider that it started life as a 360 title.
Unfortunately the combat does not match the graphics, and to use the term basic would be an understatement. The four face buttons give you a sword attack, a push, an evade and a deflect. Once you have inflicted a set amount of damage to an enemy a small skull appears above their heads at which point you pull the right trigger and start the execution animation.
Executions are brutal, with unfortunate enemies getting their limbs hacked off, throats impaled and guts spilled. You can even complete a double execution if two foes with skulls above their heads are close enough. Once you start the execution, the enemy will either light up blue (in which case you press X), or yellow (pressing Y). The trouble is, even if you don’t press anything, the animation carries on regardless. Though pressing the buttons at the right time will give you increased points to spend on unlocking new executions or increase your health and damage output.
To mix things up slightly, some enemies have shields that need breaking or moves evaded before you can attack. Pressing different directions on the d-pad when completing an execution rewards you with additional health or XP. You occasionally have to get your troops in formation to protect from archers. However these are small distractions from what is basically 8 hours of attacking enemies until a small skull appears, followed by hacking them to bits in brutal fashion.
There is an online coliseum mode in which you can play by yourself or with a friend in which you fight endless waves of enemies to earn gold. This can be used to purchase better equipment for your soldiers. It seems purposely designed to be a grind, while encouraging players to purchase gold with real money.
Ryse Son Of Rome is a fantastic looking game and great to show off to your mates who have yet to purchase an Xbox One. it is just a shame the combat isn’t deeper and the campaign a bit longer. Though the Coliseum mode will keep you entertained for a while longer and achievement hunters will have to play through the game twice on various difficulties.
Hopefully any sequel to Ryse will feature a more fleshed-out combat system and once Crytek are more familiar with the Xbox One hardware, dare I say it, an even better looking game. At the moment Ryse: Son Of Rome is a solid game, just not fantastic.
Review by: Hayden Saye
Review Date: 6th January 2014
Ryse: Son Of Rome
Rating out of 5: