Developer: Crytek (2013)
Console: Xbox One
Reviewed by V1
Ryse: Son of Rome tells the tale of Marius, a great leader in the Roman army. The game begins during a Barbarian attack on the steps of Rome. Marius helps secure the Roman Emperor, Nero, in a safe part of his palace. During their stay Marius begins to recount the events that led him to this point. The rest of the game plays out through these flashbacks, eventually returning to the present & beyond. These flashback scenes begin with a younger Marius, only having recently joined the Roman Legion, returning to his childhood home to visit his parents. His father Leontius, a former Legionnaire turned politician, explains to Marius the story of Damocles (Damolces was an officer in the Roman army who was abandoned by his comrades, due to political movings. With the help of Nemesis, he exacted revenge on the offenders & purged evil from Rome). During these pleasantries they are attacked by the Barbarian horde, Marius’ family are slain & he sets out on a murderous rampage across Rome to find out what happened & kill those behind the murders.There are some supernatural elements to the story, but Crytek never really embrace it & it just ends up feeling out of place.
Ryse is a surprisingly well written & acted tale of revenge. Telling the story out of chronological order was definitely a great decision by Crytek. This decision turned what is a pretty generic & standard tale of revenge, into a murder mystery full of swerves that kept me guessing (not quite til the end) for a good majority of the game. So while the story isn’t mind blowing by any stretch, it more than does the job & it certainly does the job with style.
Yep, this game sure has a lot of style. It’s honestly THE best looking game EVER released on console (relax PC geeks, your games still look the best!). I know these are strong words but everything in this game is jaw dropping. Character models, locations, lighting, particle effects & DAT ARMOUR is just out of this world. Honestly this game has to be seen to be believed & Crytek should be congratulated for their attention to detail & effort. This being a Crytek game you can put your mortgage on it having the best looking forest level ever coded, but it’s not only the forest levels that are gorgeous. Ryse takes you across all of Rome including swamps, market places, the senate, desolate villages, Bararian camps, beach fronts & the Coliseum. All of these levels are beautiful, diverse & most importantly memorable.
The voice acting is also top quality in Ryse. Marius is a well written & performed character. Most of the cast are held to this standard, although some minor characters are noticeably less detailed. The soundtrack is well suited to the action & contains some rather epic moments: from heavy percussion, very Roman sounding horns & great string sections. Despite how well produced the score is, it’s just not very memorable! I couldn’t remember a single song minutes after turning off the game, never mind weeks or months later.
Formerly a kinect-only Xbox 360 game, Ryse was thankfully cancelled, reworked & eventually unveiled as an XBoxOne exclusive title to be released on launch day. Unfortunately this becomes evident only a few levels into the game. The basic mechanics see you move through mostly linear areas (there are some hidden areas to find collectibles) taking out droves of Barbarian soldiers before you can progress……… EAT, SLEEP, RINSE, REPEAT (x16 billion!). This is where this game fails to live up to the standard set in graphics & audio.
The core gameplay is actually pretty fun. You fight in a manner similar to that seen in the Arkham series (although the comparison is rather flattering in my opinion). There are light & heavy attacks, a block button, counter button & grapple button. You can also throw spears but they’re pretty sparse (unless of course it’s a set-piece requiring you to throw spears). While the actual fighting can be fun, you will have seen EVERYTHING this game has to offer within two or three levels. From then on, it’s simply a case of doing the same thing hundreds of times over until you beat the game. Not only do you do the same things over & over, you do them to the same people again & again! There are very few enemy character models in the game (there are some reskins, but they all fight the same). There’s normal lad, fat lad with beard, fat lad with beard & shield, fella with two swords & bloke with megaton hammer! It’s like attack of the fucking clones here!
There are a few attempts to spice up the action during the main game. There are sections where you move your Legion as a group, defend against incoming arrows & fire off volleys of spears. These are awesome the first time, but end up becoming overused by the end of the game. There are a few turret sections thrown in. They are generally bad & a bit ridiculous (a ballista that fires 200 bolts a minute! lol). However there is one stand out section in the entire game. This is a fantastic trip to the coliseum, where the rules set out for the rest of the game are thrown out the window for a great set piece. Unfortunately you’re still fighting fat beard & co, so it‘s not all gravy.
You can upgrade Marius by earning XP. This allows you to purchase extra life, focus (slow mo) & also purchase extra execution moves. Unfourtunately these moves don’t change the gameplay at all, they’re just new animations. They look great & are initially fun, but you’ll eventually tire of seeing the same moves hundreds of times.
Another thing to note is the excellent multiplayer mode. Taking the best piece of the single player game & adding a second player was genius. This mode is a lot of fun & very easy to sink hours & hours into. I thoroughly enjoyed levelling up my avatar & reenacting famous battles from history with a second player.
• Incredible looking.
• Great voicework, particularly for main character.
• Good writing & enjoyable slant on cliché story.
• Amazing trip to coliseum.
• Great local & online multiplayer.
• Production values not equal across whole game.
• Music not memorable.
• Pointless upgrade system.
• Repetitive gameplay.
• Repetitive gameplay.
• Repetivite gameplay.
Overall: A fun & gorgeous game marred by a serious lack of content & repetitive gameplay. It’s great fun chopping a bearded Barbarian in half once, not so much fun after 2,000 times (same move, same Barbarian). I still somewhat enjoyed this game, but I could never recommend it to someone at full price. Get it on sale for 20quid though & you may get some enjoyment. 6.5/10