Review by jparis09
Reviewed: 12/04/13 | Updated: 12/09/13
Fails to Execute
After nearly a decade the next generation of consoles has finally been released to the public. With a new generation of consoles, comes of course, next generation video games. One of the most hyped games of the bunch is Ryse: Son of Rome. Ryse is developed by the graphics powerhouse developers Crytek powered by the their new CryEngine 4. As with all Crytek games, Ryse is a visual masterpiece, but does Ryse have more to offer then jaw dropping visuals? Let's find out.
What is Ryse: Son of Rome about?
Ryse takes place during the height of the Roman Empire. It tells the story of our protagonist Marius Titus. Early on Marius witnesses the murder of his family by barbarians during a revolt. Filled with anger and rage, Marius pledges to avenge his family. Marius is transferred to the 14th Legion under the command of one of his fathers closest friend, Vitallion. Ryse story takes you across the country embarking on war to stop the revolt of the barbarians but Marius soon comes to realize things aren't as they seem to be and is hit by a shocking discovery. While Ryse story isn't necessarily bad it doesn't really do anything to keep your attention. The plot doesn't explore any new ground and just follows the typical revenge story that we have seen reused and rehashed plenty of times before. There are 8 chapters typically about a hour each so the story is a decent length. Chapter 7 is a great chapter and stands out over all of the others. Ryse story will appeal to some especially hardcore fans of this time period but overall it has it's ups and downs and hits and misses.
Is Ryse fun to play?
Ryse Son of Rome is the epitome of the "all flash no substance" cliche. The combat system here is heavily focused on "executions". While fighting enemies, once a certain amount of damage is done you will be given the option to execute said enemies. There are plenty of executions including the fantastic double executions and all of them look beautiful. When the execution is triggered you will be given roughly 3 QTE's to push in order to execute your enemies. A lot of gamers criticize QTE's being excessively used in games and Ryse and PLENTY of them. The QTE's did annoy me to a point but not as much as you would think because the executions are absolutely stunning to look at and don't repeat as often as you would think. My biggest issues with the execution system is how easy they are. For example if your in that bloody fight for you life with one of those crazed barbarians and you begin a execution regardless if you push the right QTE, Marius will kill the barbarian. If the QTE wants me to press Y and I press X the execution doesn't cancel or I don't get reversed. Marius will carry out the execution as if I pressed the right button. The combat system doesn't punish you for pressing the wrong buttons. The system scores you based on how you play, giving you experience points for combos, executions, etc but this scoring system just seems to be here. It really doesn't serve to much of a purpose at all. You can use your XP to increase health, focus, and unlock new executions but none of it is needed to make progress in the game. The combat system is extremely easy and doesn't punish you for bad play so regardless if you get XP points or not, you won't have hard time advancing. Ryse also suffers from a lack of diversity. There aren't any new weapons to equip. Marius is stuck with the same sword and same shield throughout the adventure so you get no diversity in combat. You will be fighting the same way using the same weapon from Chapter 1 all the way to Chapter 8. Marius does have spears he can throw at enemies but these spears do little to diversify the gameplay and seems to only be available when the plot dictates so. The AI also is disappointing. Enemies don't seem to use any strategy at all in combat. While you slowly execute their teammates, the AI will just sit there and watch you not attacking or trying to disrupt you whatsoever. Another disappointment is the reused enemy models. From the start of the game all the way until the end, 90 percent of the time you will be seeing the exact same enemies just in a different map. The same fat barbarians you will kill dozens of times, the same bald one, and the same Minotaur helmet barbarians. This gets old quick and it seems like your doing the same thing over and over again just in a different chapter.
Ryse introduces a Gladiator style co-op mode. In this mode you team up with a friend and go into an arena. You will fight rounds inside this arena completing various of different task until you get to end and fight mini bosses. Before entering you will have to choose a god that you serve. This god will give you a certain power such as health regeneration or focus regeneration. It adds a little strategy so it is wise for you and your co-op partner to play off each other strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately, the co-op suffers from the same flaws the campaign suffers from, lackluster AI as well as an easy combat system. There are a few differences in combat fortunately. You and your friend can participate in co-op executions which are very fun to watch. As you play you will level up to increase your stats similar to the story. After a few hours in multi-player, similar to the single-player though the combat gets very repetitive and all of those gorgeous executions start to become more of a thing you do just to kill your enemy quickly rather than for fun. All flash...no substance.
How does Ryse look?
Ryse looks absolutely stunning. The new CryEngine struts its stuff on the Xbox One and even the most picky graphically guys will be satisfied by the mouth watering visuals that are at work here. Ryse: Son of Rome runs at a native 900p resolution but is upscaled to 1080p. You cannot tell at all that 1080p isn't its native resolution. Lighting looks amazing as well as the environments. Colors pop out at you. Blood splatter looks realistic. Trees, nature and water physics all show you that this is a next generation game. Character models (while repetitive) move smooth and realistic and the frame rate did not drop once while playing. The voice acting is one of the best I've ever seen in a video game. Lip syncing looks near perfect and you will easily notice the time spent on making the game the visual beast it is. The game also sounds amazing. The clashing of steel swords, banging of shields, screams of enemies, and the sound of a sword piercing a mans chest all sound lovely. Crytek doesn't pull any punches in this department and has stayed true to their name from this standpoint.
Should you play it again?
Ryse doesn't really give you a reason to replay its lacking story mode over again after you have finished it unless your an achievement hunter. There are several different difficulties, with Legendary being the hardest. Legendary is only unlocked after you finish the story once. In this mode you can go get those final achievements if your heart desires. There are also collectibles to find if you missed any during your first play-through. As stated above the co-op does give you a little something different than the single player but overall just like the single player it gets repetitive and boring after a few hours.
The Verdict 5/10
-Repetitive and Easy Combat
-Reused Enemy Models
Ryse: Son of Rome is one of those games that you will want to play in doses. The game looks so good that you may want to try it out just to see the beautiful visuals but that is where it stops. Every once is a while when you just wanna brutally kill some barbarians then Ryse is surely entertain. After all the executions that takes place in this game unfortunately Ryse fails to execute on some basic elements that make great games...great games.
Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Product Release: Ryse: Son of Rome (Day One Edition) (US, 11/22/13)
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