11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Genuine, Honest Review of Ryse: Son of Rome, 2 Dec 2013
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars
This is the first time I have ever written a review for a game but I feel that I had to given the unfair judgement I have seen this game receieve. Before I begin I must admit I am hugely interested in the Roman Empire as well as sword-and-sandal flicks such as Gladiator and Spartacus so that obviously benefits towards my enjoyment of the game. To sum up what Ryse is, I'd say it's Call of Duty (linear, action set pieces with big spectacle) meets Gladiator.
Well where else to begin than with the graphics, which are absolutely stunning. It's by far the best looking title on the Xbox One so far and a definite showcase of it's graphical abilities. The world Crytek have created is beautiful and scarily realistic, genuinely bordering on photorealistic. The same can be said for the characters, which are terrifically acted with some of the best facial animation I've seen in a game. They move great too, with excellent use of motion capture used in cutscenes and when in combat.
Combat itself is the main bulk of game, and while at times it can get a tad repetitive it is fun and challenging. If you've ever played any of the Batman Arkham games then you'll feel right at home. X is the sword attack, A is to block, Y is to shove an opponent with a shield and B is to roll. And just like Batman, there are different types of enemies where you'll need to use a button more than others. A general grunt who can be killed simply by mashing X and blocking if needed, a burly enemy with a shield who needs to be shoved before attacking and who requires more blocking, a two-handed swordsmen who needs blocking before counter attacking and a bigger, slower enemy with a large hammer who needs to be dodged by rolling before attacking. The latter are the elite enemies who you'll rarely come across but are harder to kill. There are boss fights as well but they're just a mixture of the standard enemies you encounter but tougher. If you saw any footage from E3 earlier this year there was a huge uproar over the apparent QTE's (quick time events) which is effectively where a button prompt appears on screen and when pressed, the game takes you out of control and kills an enemy for you. Well I'm happy to say that there are no QTE's in Ryse, or forced ones at least. After damaging an enemy so much a little icon appears above them, which when the right trigger is pressed, starts a death animation and causes the enemy to be highlighted in blue (X) or yellow (Y). By pressing the correct colour it progresses the animation until another colour is shown (usually between 2-4 times) until you kill the enemy. The point of these, other than the fact that they look awesome, is that it helps towards gaining extra XP (which you use to unlock more moves and upgrade health) or health if it's low. They are in no way forced on you other than in boss fights but I had absolutely no problem with them. I've read somewhere that Crytek said there are over 100 different death animations, but I haven't come across that many myself so I can't confirm if that's true. I know that there are double death animations when 2 enemies are involved, and there are ones which are determined by where you are in the environment (such as near a ledge), but you can expect to see the same one many times.
In-between the combat there are moments where you command your troops, either telling them where to fire arrow volleys or to form a testudo formation (where the soldiers align their shields to form a packed formation covered with shields on the front and top) to march towards the enemy archers. You can also take control of a ballista which you fire in a first person perspective. These are fun little moments to break up the fighting and to help make you feel like a leader. There are no puzzles or exploration during the levels, unlike that of perhaps Ryse's similar rival on the other machine, God of War. Other than the fact that God of War is set in Ancient Greece and is much more over-the-top and based on mythology, Ryse is more simple and historically accurate, albeit with it's own story.
The story is fairly simple and while it's nothing I haven't seen before, I was still hooked on it throughout and there were some great moments. It plays out like a film, with lots of scripted moments and linear pathways to keep you pushing forwards to progress the story.
There are unfortunately some negatives I personally have which stops the game from being perfect. The developers have stated that because the sword was the only real weapon a Roman soldier used, they decided to stay true to that and have a sword as the only weapon in the game (you can use pilas on occasion too though, which are effectively throwing spears). I would have liked there to be some more variety with weapons, which would have also meant more variety in death animations. The gameplay itself can get repetitive but I still found it enjoyable and the story made me want to carry on. As I've stated before, the graphics are incredible, but the same enemy designs are used over and over again. Unless they have escaped from a clone factory I can think of no other reason other than that was something the developers had to sacrifice to make them look so realistic. The shield enemy, for example, only has one design and there are times when I fought 2 or 3 of them at the same time, so it was like fighting triplets. With such amazing graphics something like this really sticks out to me.
To cut this review short, and to give an overall review, I really enjoyed Ryse: Son of Rome. It has amazing graphics, a great story with interesting characters and fun challenging gameplay. It can get a tad repetitive at times, but so do most games I have played. It took me roughly between 8-10 hours to complete, but I did explore every nook and cranny in the levels to find the hidden collectables. So if you blitz straight through it I can imagine it might take between 6-8 hours. There's no real replayability in the story other than to find the collectables, but there is a fun gladiator mode which you can play on your own or with a friend. I haven't played much of it so can't give a full judgement but it certainly adds longevity to the game once you finish the campaign.
With style but not quite enough substance, Ryse: Son of Rome reminds me of the first Gears of War or Assassins Creed. There's definitely lots of room for improvement and there's the chance to make a bigger, better, badder sequel with more variety (horseback combat, anyone?), but as it stands on it's own it's still a great game and one every Xbox One owner should think about getting. I hope this becomes a big franchise for the Xbox and a sequel is greenlit soon, as there isn't anything really quite like it out there.
- Amazing graphics
- Great soundtrack and voice acting
- Interesting story
- Fun challenging combat
- Can get repetitive
- Not enough variety
If I had to give a score out of 10, I'd give - 8.5/10