It is no secret that Ryse: Son of Rome is Microsoft's showpiece. This game is what makes people hopeful that Microsoft didn't exactly drop the ball with the hardware in the unit. Does the game hold up to the expectations of a brand new IP competing in a already crowded market? Does Ryse give you something different than what you're use to? Read more to find out.
Ryse Is beautiful head to toe, drop dead gorgeous, Crytek did an amazing job at capturing Rome. It all looks great. The vast areas you visit on your journey are jaw dropping at times. The armor on Marius moves at every hinge, and the character and Facial animations are top notch. That being said, there is a reason this game is so beautiful and I will go on to explain the technical side of it a bit. For starters, the games camera is one of the tightest I've ever seen in a game yet. This means that the game only had to render what you're seeing at any given time. when you sprint you don't even get that "zoom" effect that makes you feel like you're moving fast as hell (think gears of war). The camera is always so close to Marius and that's fine cause it works well in this game. The linearity makes it very easy to pull off these visuals as most of the eye candy are static environments you can't go near. This game is full of invisible walls and smoke and mirror tricks, its like here look at this amazing game, you cant touch it though. That doesn't mean the game deserves any less, for the hardware its running on it is a technical achievement and Crytek should be commended for pulling it off. Three main factors stand out more then anything though.
1.The AA technique is clearly visible and you can see it very clearly, they add a kind of film grain to it all to cover up any jaggies. It works well but very noticeable.
2. The character models are far and few between. You feel like you're fighting a clone army most of the time. Which is typical for games of this nature but there are no differences from the most standard character models. Not even so much as different armor on them. Granted there are variations of enemies per chapter, it doesn't take away from the fact that you feel like you're fighting clone after clone.
3. The on screen characters, which is a total of 6 enemies I believe, that leaves little to be desired, because even though you have to account for your men, they are as dumb as a door nail and don't help you AT ALL. I have seen the soldiers just stand there time after time as I get destroyed by 4+ heavy enemies. I think this game had issues with AI, a lot of issues with it.
Ryse puts you in the shoes of a Roman General named Marius Titus, in what seems like a Tarantino intro, where everything you're doing will be explained as you progress. Before you know it, you are in a room with Nero explaining your story. This formula works well for Ryse because it is what keeps you interested in the first place. Fast forward 2 chapters in and you are already seeing the problems that plague the story. It is hollow for the middle 3 chapters, the character progression is blank (I actually forgot to use my upgrade points until the 4th chapter) and the chapters have very little to do with the story and more to do with the visuals. Once you grind through that, the game actually starts getting interesting for the final 3 chapters. My most enjoyed moments with the game were those final 3 chapters. It's like Crytek could have done so much more but settled for cliche Western Civilization lore....and nothing is wrong with that. The story is interesting enough to keep you going, as it does a good job at giving you subtle hints as to whats going to happen next. If you can push through chapters III-VI you'll enjoy the game towards the end a lot more.
Ryse has amazing audio, I mean some of the best I've heard in a long time. That isn't surprising however considering the guys at the helm. Crytek is known for making some of the most gorgeous games with their engine. The sound of sword and shield clashing, the roars and cries of people as they get slaughtered by your hand is ever so rewarding. Voice acting is movie quality, and in those tense moments when you find out whats going on you can hear the anger and I loved that. It felt like Gladiator 2.0 (and it should have). All in all the sound works perfectly with the game and I have no complaints aside from recycled banter between you and the enemies you slay (which mostly consist of "I'm going to kill you Roman scum, and You will die an unpleasant death).
Unfortunately that really plagues you 4-5 hours into the game.
Okay, So I am sure this is the part everyone cares about, and why the game has taken such a hit with reviews lately. Yes, the Gameplay is the biggest problem with Ryse: Son of Rome. Plagued with repetitious chapters, hollow boss fights and ridiculously linear. The biggest issue here is in fact that this game relies heavily on the Right Trigger. While you don't HAVE to do any executions at all (you can literally just keep slashing the enemies), it is needed to fill up your health bar, XP bar, and focus bar. It's like Crytek was promising the fighting was more advanced then we've seen and its really not. Add the whole "boost" element and you have no choice but to constantly use executions to keep yourself alive. That isn't to say that sometimes this system doesn't shine. I'd say about half way through the game when I was doing 50x combos like nothing, it was amazing seeing the character animations as you did a double takedown while slashing between other enemies and just slaughtering everything in your path. It feels great, but only for so long. The novelty wears off once you realize how easy it is to do the chain combos, and you aren't as bad ass as you thought you were. This game has some other elements to gameplay and I can name them all on one hand. Wave fighting, Scorpio slaughter, and Volley defense. Literally each chapter is guaranteed to use those 3 elements over and over again.
Is this game fun? I suppose you could say it is, when I first started playing the game, I was genuinely excited. What started out as something fresh and interesting quickly turned into any type of corridor shooter I've ever played in my life. Thats what sucks. The fighting is no where near as advanced as Crytek made it out to be, and the boss fights never change up. It's all block block block, hit hit hit. Literally. That's it. My right thumb was sore by the end of the game from all the mashing of "X" on my controller I want to love Ryse, it's the reason I bought an Xbox One. I just can't love it the way I want to. It gets too old too quick and you have to push to the end. If not for the last 3 epic chapters I'd probably given up by chapter V.
Not much to say about the online, I've played a bit of it but it wasn't as entertaining as it could be. This is mainly to do with the single player. Its the same game, but with a friend, fighting off...you guessed it..more waves of enemies and they get progressively harder, as the arena changes. Its fun, you can enjoy it, but I don't expect this to be a multiplayer people invest months in like Battlefield or Call of Duty.
Is Ryse a great new IP? No. It is in fact a Good IP with potential if Crytek listens to reviews and feedback. I want to see more of this world, I want to play more games like it. They have the ability to pull it off. It all depends on them. Do I regret buying the game? Not at all, I enjoyed it as much as I could. I am glad I held out for the final 3 chapters as those proved to be the best in the game. Would I encourage you to buy it? Sure! There is enough elements to get your moneys worth, even if you have to pace yourself to do it.