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Published on December 6th, 2013 | by Tony

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Review: Ryse: Son Of Rome

When thinking of big men in suits of armour with a sword and shield by their side you can’t help but think of films like Braveheart, 300 or Gladiator, that is just fact.
So when Microsoft started to show off Ryse: Son of Rome, which now seems like a lifetime ago, and the idea of a next-gen game turning you into a bad-ass with weaponry, it’s not a surprise that many of us got a little excited.
Ryse is one of a few big titles that made it as a launch day exclusive to the Xbox One, so us Xbox guys can hold our game case aloft and scream about our dying love for it to those smelly PS4 guys 😉 (just to clarify that was me joking!).

Originally planned as a 360 Kinect only title, that idea soon got shelved and before we knew it we had the Ryse we see today in all of its next-gen goodness.
Developed by Crytek, the team behind the always gorgeous looking Crysis, we always knew that Ryse would be pleasing on the eye, but the question for gamers was whether or not it was more than just QTE (quick time event) eye candy.



Single player:
Ryse sees you playing through the campaign as Marius who at the start of the game (seen below) is seen rescuing an Emperor by the name of Nero, but once he helps save him he begins to tell him the story on how that came about.
The story he tells begins with him meeting up with his father, mother and sister only to see both the ladies in his life brutally murdered in an attack by what he thinks are barbarian bandits, but as the game plays out you find out it is much more complex than that.
Set over 8 chapters and taking around 8 to 10 hours to finish the campaign, it felt like I was watching a really good movie but with me taking part in it, as the cut-scenes and story are something you would expect from a blockbuster hit movie.
The game takes place all over Rome with all areas of the game offering something new and fresh from the last level, but most levels having the same goal of slashing people up like it was your hobby.
One thing I would say about the campaign, if I was to give future buyers a tip, would be to pace it out a little rather than go into the game trying to finish it as fast as you can, as it really is best enjoyed in small sized chunks, which very nicely brings me on to the very reason why.


Combat: The combat in Ryse: Son of Rome is very linear to say the least and I would say that it is the only real downside to what is a beautiful game to look at and play with.
The buttons are simple, but to put it in other gaming terms I would say it feels like the combat of an Assassin’s Creed game only a little more compact and the enemies not wanting to cut you any slack when you get circled.
Now in Ryse, unlike an AC game, the screen can be pretty much filled with guys at any one point all of which are baying for your blood, so it does make it slightly more challenging,
The button layout makes it quite easy to master and soon you will be blocking and killing like you are reliving your Roman past.

The X and Y buttons are your main sword slaying buttons for combat with X covering your sword and Y covering your shield, with the A button being the one to press when you see an attack coming your way.
Holding down either the X or Y button also gives for a stronger attack, which comes in handy when coming across enemies who perhaps have a stronger line of defence to get past.
The B button also helps in this instance as this is the evade button, so with a quick press of this you simply roll out the way of any oncoming attack.
The RT button comes into use when you see either a red or grey skull appear over a weakened enemy, press this near them and you go into slow-mo kill mode, which no doubt you’ve seen all over the internet.
When this mode kicks in either the colour blue or yellow will appear on the enemy you happen to be slaying, press the coloured button to match what is on the screen and you score a much higher combo score in doing so.

The game also has a use for the d-pad with four abilities on offer to you which are XP, regenerate health, damage power and focus.
While some of these explain themselves, the one that needs explaining is focus, as this can give you a upper hand in tough situations.
With a full focus bar and a press of the LB button the game stuns the opponents around you for a few seconds and gives a moment to attack them all therefore cleaning up what was a tricky spot to be in.
The ability I used the most was the health regeneration if I am honest though, as you can basically just keep your health bar pretty filled without the fear of dying, but I did have a few hairy moments even with it equipped, so it does depend on what type of gamer you are.

The game also offers upgrades to you when earning in-game Valor, but being honest even when buying these it didn’t really give me a different feeling to the game that I was playing before I bought one, so therefore felt like a waste of time.
These can also be bought with micro-transactions if you so wish, with 1,000 gold costing you £0.79 to 25,000 gold costing £15.99, but buying such a thing would make the Internet hate you for the rest of your life.

The Kinect also comes into play during the combat with you needing to shout things at it during certain parts in the campaign if you wish, or you can just hold down LB when prompted.
I did say on Twitter recently though I did find shouting out “FIRE VOLLEYS!” in my Birmingham accent a little daft, only more so when the wife would look at me like my mum did when wetting myself in nursery.
You will feel dumb there is no two ways about it, but you will sort of get a kick out of it at the same time in a weird way.



Looks: This is where Ryse scores really well, but you would expect that from the team behind Crysis with the power of a next-gen console and the CryEngine behind them, right?
While the actual game world is beautiful to look at though, there are a few basic gaming no-no’s when it comes to errors.
With the power of next-gen in our hands now is it really too much of an ask to want enemies to look different to each other? When the screen is full of say 12 bad guys hacking at you, I don’t expect to see 3 groups of people who look exactly alike trying to slash my face off.
This is perhaps a bit anal I know, but when cutting a guys throat to see his exact twin in the background waiting to try his luck, it did take a little of the shine off for me.
To see this you only have to watch the intro in the video above to see it happen at the very start of the game, as the same bald guy dies one minute only for his twin to suffer the same fate seconds later.

Before I went off on that rant I was saying how the game worlds are beautiful, combined with how you and the enemies look (away from the matching faces) it captures how you would imagine being a Roman was.
Flaming arrows flying overhead, blood splattering everywhere when you are cleaning the screen of bad guys, not just that though as the landscapes do take your breath away at some points.

Other Bits And Pieces:
First thing let us talk about the in-game currency, as with the next-gen this seems to now be replacing the much hated online pass.
You can play online and earn coins, but nothing at a very high rate if you’re a drop in and out guy like me, and that is who publishers/devs are targeting with these micro-transactions.
We’ve all been there on FIFA and bought a sneaky Ultimate team pack and instantly been disappointed with ourselves, but many games are now using this as a way to cash in once you have spent money to buy their game.
Ryse gives you the option of buying gold, and in multiplayer doing so will make you character not only better to look at but also stronger in some of your overall stats.
With these coins (see prices earlier in review) you can buy booster packs that will give you new items and things to use on your MP character. The booster packs range from 200 coins to 600 coins in tier 1, to a whopping 2000 (£1.59) to 6000 (£4.78) coin in tier 5.
The only thing I wanted to buy for my guy was something other than the horrid blue pants he was wearing, as even sword slaying for me could not look terrifying in those.

Another thing in the game is the much beloved collectibles, which no doubt I will Youtube once this review is done when I have a night to myself. Yes I am that kind of guy.
The collectibles to find this time around are Vistas,  scrolls and chronicles, but once found and searched for through the main menus they don’t offer anything outside of the game,
Vistas are shield sized and will flash a green colour at you, in fact they all flash green at you. Scrolls are found on dead bodies around the map, which are normally hidden away from eye sight, so they give you a reason to venture around.
The final chronicles look like a bucket of arrows to me, but I’m informed they are in fact a bucket full of documents.
Either way there is no way of knowing where you have missed one or where to collect it which seems a bit dumb if you ask me, so I would say a good guide to get them all on your first playthrough would be a good thing to do.

Overall Ryse looks as good as I had hoped it would, and for the guys who are all about the graphics porn, Ryse ticks the boxes with ease.
That being said with the short campaign on offer and no real need to return to it once you have finished it all, it does not give it that play again factor a title like this needs.

Multiplayer: The modes in full are,

Arena:
This sees you and either a friend or random player take on a level of your choosing from the 10 that are on offer to you.
When playing this mode I went through a level called The Defense of Rome which saw us like above given quests to do to carry on through the mission.
It ended with us having to set the enemies boat on fire and defeating a final wave of enemies to make it through.
The issue I had with this was that the game was set over three missions, so in total it took us around 30 to 40 minutes to get through.
It was nice to have a fellow gamer by my side for once, and having to also be there when he needed you added something to the game.

Round to Round:
I tried at least five times to get this mode up and running, so we will just have to go on what the game information says on the loading screen.
It is the above mode, but rather than ending after you have completed what needs doing it will give you the option of moving on to the next session.
To be honest that would not be for me as I said above the 30 minutes clocking time of the Arena chapter was enough, so to sit there for a good few hours would not be for me at all.

Solo mode:
The solo mode sees you doing the same as above really, but on your lonesome you billy no mates you!
The game will give such requests as “kills those guys shooting arrows at you” to “knock those barrels full of burning oil over will ya love” which can be quite fun for short periods of time.
Sure I don’t see anyone bothering with it when the likes of Forza, Battlefield and FIFA 14 are waiting in the wings, but it is something to try out once the campaign is done and dusted.

Overall Thoughts:
Ryse: Son of Rome is great to look at and the campaign, albeit short, will be a fun blast to play through. The shortness of campaign however and a multiplayer that once again in a big release is nothing special will give it that come back now and again feeling.
I wanted to really love this game, but once the campaign is done, there really is no reason for you to return back unless you fancy cutting people to pieces to get rid of some pent up anger.
The Multiplayer while being fun at times did not pull me in enough to want to spend hours on, so with that being said Ryse ends up being a quite short yet fun campaign with a MP on the side that will be dead once the launch titles have been out a while sadly

Review: Ryse: Son Of Rome Tony
Looks
Gameplay
Presentation
Story
Replay Value
Multiplayer

Summary: Fun yet short Campaign that looks beautiful, but looks are not everything in gaming. The combat can get a bit samey after a while, and the MP is nothing special. For a launch game though it will pass the time until more titles come about.

3.1

Beautiful Yet Lacking


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