Ryse: Son of Rome Xbox One Review

Ryse Son of Rome Featured Image

Ryse: Son of Rome from Crytek and Microsoft Studios is available in retail stores now or digitally from the Xbox One Marketplace. If you fancy a trek down some old roman roads and a breath-taking view of the Colosseum in the distance as you battle your way to save the Roman Empire then you’re in luck – or alternatively you might be wondering if Ryse is really worth the money, or all it’s cracked up to be?

I found with Ryse, that I just wanted to spend as much time as I could admiring the Roman empire scenery; the exquisitely designed architecture, the way the water flows down streams and the glistening sunlight that bounces off the roof tops as you sword fight your way from town to another. Certainly one of the most stunning games to look at on the Xbox One console, and what a way it has come since first being announced as a Kinect exclusive Xbox 360 game way back in 2011. Delivering Ryse: Son of Rome as an Xbox One exclusive was a brave move and likely to ensure its sales success since Kinect on the Xbox 360 was not as popular as maybe Microsoft hoped.  What Ryse does do well is show you how far we’ve come in console gaming – the level of detail is second to none! What it doesn’t do well is combat – surprisingly!

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The story within the campaign element of Ryse: Son of Rome, follows a fearless Roman soldier named Marius Titus who (after developing and improving his fighting technique) joins the army to avenge the slaying of his family as well as fighting to save the Roman Empire. Through-out every chapter are cinematic re-creations of the Roman Empire, its people, conflicts and landscapes in extraordinary detail which I simply cannot compliment enough. The close quarters combat action plays a heavy prominence in the gameplay mechanics as does a super supply of quick time events in an effort to bring down every one of your enemies. Don’t for one minute assume the story is based on any historical real life events either as although the setting for the game is Roman with every detail as close to Roman life imaginable, Crytek have set the scene for Roman combat in an alternate timeline. Not that I am a historian, but I know it’s quite inaccurate, so if you had assumed you would be playing a little part of history – putting it bluntly you’re not!

Repetitive is the best word I could use to describe the combat within Ryse; you seem to be greeted with a great cut scene through trailing the chapters from one to another and then placed in an almost-immediate battle scenario where you wield the sword, defend with the shield and bash the X button as fast and hard as you can until the enemies drop to their knees before death kicks in. The gore is brutal and mastering every move could take you awhile as part of the process of progression is Skill Upgrades. Health, Focus, Gain and Combat can be increased through the spending of Valor or Gold which can be acquired through performance based gameplay with Gold weighing in at an expense from the Xbox marketplace if you wanted to pay to upgrade your soldier’s attributes.  Referring back to the combat itself, it is a basic set of Deflecting incoming attacks, evading an attack, Sword Attack and holding the X button down for a Heavy Sword Attack. There are additional executions to add which will boost your XP too, but in scenes with a brutal amount of enemies tactics goes all out the window – you’ll find you will keep hitting the X button and running away, going back to for another stab of the sword and rinse and repeat until all enemies have been defeated.

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I doubt I am hardly really selling Ryse: Son of Rome to you, but it’s not an awful game in the slightest, however it just isn’t as great as perhaps you would expect. The campaign is short, the combat repetitive, but its intriguing story-line and beautiful world is what keeps you in the game (albeit very linear). You would never have seen anything like it. One of the major annoyances of the game is that after death you will find yourself repeating battles from their very beginning. I know ‘save’ points can be like marmite where you either love or hate them depending upon how challenging you like your games to be, but Ryse could have done with a few more.

This impressive Roman title (as E3 2013 first suggested) that launched with the Xbox One console a mere few months ago from Crytek and Microsoft Studios is just not how I imagined. This beautifully designed campaign set in the Roman Empire brings to the forefront some heavy hard-hitting action amongst the most stunning environments. At first glance it appears to be one of the most striking launch titles for the Xbox One, yet a little further in and you realise the gameplay in the campaign is dull – Ryse is a scenic trip down a few Roman roads, a survival game where pressing the same buttons over and over rolls you through from one scene to another before it’s all over!

Multiplayer is another element to Ryse: Son of Rome, and surprisingly it offers more longevity (well to be expected) than its campaign counterpart as you take your customised Roman Gladiator to face the many challenges of the world’s most famous fighting arena, the Colosseum! You can choose from Arena, co-operative two player combat as you fight each other for glory and Gold while playing through a series of dynamic environment. Round to Round, where you team-up with a fellow Gladiator as a two player co-operative helping to face the challenges together – and finally, a daunting Solo Mode considered extra challenging as you battle the Colosseum alone!

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The Colosseum is the main multiplayer playground for all options, but the centre changes and adapts different environments depending upon Colosseum playlists. Your job is to not only keep the crowd entertained, but to finish a series of challenges that vary from killing waves of enemies, using designated traps and surviving as best as you possible can. This is a fun and challenging multiplayer that also uses the Smart-Match system so you can set the console to look for your next game whilst you still battle away on the campaign or watch a bit of TV.

Ryse: Son of Rome is a well-crafted Roman Empire game that to look at is to die for! Sadly, the campaign is a bit shit and the combat system somewhat repetitive that you might get tired of – but the great news is that multiplayer is its saving grace and you can have endless hours of fun completing the many daring challenges of the Colosseum as you progress your Gladiator into an ultimate fighting machine. Ultimately, Ryse is not as good overall as I had hoped considering the E3 2013 briefing advertising it as something truly special. What was a Kinect exclusive now simply uses a handful of voice commands (thankfully) but it’s a fun game that could have been a lot better if the combat system was improved and it offered more than a six to seven hour run through.

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