Ryse: Son of Rome plays through a story full of vengeance, honor, and deceit. As a launch title for the Xbox One, Crytek had to demonstrate just what the next-gen console was capable of, which they were able to achieve through their CRYENGINE.
The story takes place during one of Rome’s darkest times, under the rule of Emperor Nero. You play as Marius Titus, son of a great roman general and predominant senate figure. The game starts with you defending against an invasion from the barbarian Britains. Marius escorts the emperor to the safest location possible, and when they are alone, he begins to tell Emperor Nero his story leading up to their current situation. With his family being murdered in front of him, the newly inducted Roman soldier seeks vengeance on those he believes took his family from him. After much bloodshed and interference from the Gods, Marius soon realizes who is truly to blame for the fall of Rome and the death of his loved ones.
The story alone had me glued to the screen and I was quickly attached to the main character. I found myself experiencing the same emotions as they were being displayed through Marius. With games leaning more towards multiplayer and social interaction, it was nice to have a well told story to play through. However, to make this story into a game, Crytech had to come up with a way to present it to the audience, which they claim was all done by their CRYENGINE.
Everything about Crytech’s presentation of this epic story was beautiful. The graphics were of next-gen quality, from the background to the facial expressions of each character. There weren’t very many open areas, so I didn’t get a chance to see how well the graphics were at a very far distance. However, the graphics from the miscellaneous items throughout the game to the large structures makes the player feel like they are standing right in the middle of the once great Roman Empire.
The voice acting was very well done and each main character had their own voice, with even some variation between the soldiers and barbarians. The dialogue was fantastic and flowed nicely throughout the cutscenes. Even the random lines that were said amongst NPC’s correlated with the situation and added to the experience. As far as the music goes, there wasn’t anything memorable about it. I didn’t feel like it played much of a role in the story telling.
Now with the story captured on screen, all that is left is to turn this story into a playable game. Ryse: Son of Rome is a typical button pressing game, in that at a specific time, the player is prompted to press the correct button to execute a specific action. The combat system is very basic, with a block, roll, attack and shield bash. I feel like it is fairly easy for anyone to pick up, except for a slight difference that was made for the button pressing aspect. Instead of the actual button appearing on screen, the NPC or object will glow the color of the button. I personally preferred this, as there wasn’t a big image of a button blocking my screen. However, those who aren’t familiar with, or new to the Xbox, might not be able to know what to press without having to look at their controller.
As far as the fighting goes, it began to feel a bit repetitive a couple hours into the game. The executions were a lot of fun cinematically and kind of mixed up the fighting for a bit, but even that began to repeat. They also managed to do a decent job mixing up the skills of the enemies so that the player is forced to use different fighting tactics in order to defeat them. To me, this shows that they acknowledge the repetitiveness of the style of play and tried to implement ways to break away from that. Whether or not they were successful depends on the individual player. The only flaw I noticed in the actual combat was when performing executions; it was an easy way to avoid hits because as soon as the player begins an execution, the other NPC’s back off and don’t engage you. This was very unrealistic, however, I assume they did this to allow the player as many executions as possible, because otherwise there wouldn’t have been many opportunities to use them.
There wasn’t very much environmental interaction or any kind of equipment that required any sort of skill, which allows the player to truck along the storyline. It would have been nice to use different weapons here and there but I feel like the game was trying to be accurate, sticking to the standard Roman sword and shield with the occasional spear throw.
As far as the multiplayer goes, I would suggest grabbing a friend to play with. There really isn’t much development in this aspect, as the players work together to play through many different scenarios inside of the Coliseum. Having a friend to play with would make this a very fun mode. There is also the option to party up with a random person over Xbox Live. You should check it out if you get the game, but I don’t feel like it was really worth going into an in depth review until they expand upon it.
The Verdict: 7.5 out of 10.0
Ryse: Son of Rome told a great story and Crytech did an excellent job with their presentation of it. However, where the game excelled in its ability to portray this epic story, it lacked in the overall gameplay. Some variation in the combat and a setting to help new Xbox owners with the button pressing portion, along with some kind of challenge added to the game would greatly improve it. With it only lasting roughly 6-8 hours for a full playthrough, I would definitely recommend renting this game for the story alone.
Kendrick is a writer for MONG. You can follow him on Facebook