After first appearing on our screens during the Xbox one reveal, Ryse: Son of Rome has continued to wow viewers with its breathtaking visuals and gripping combat. Part of me always wondered if they picked out the best part of the game to demonstrate so it would pull people in, but ultimately leave gamers feeling empty and disheartened. Being a Crytek fan and someone who’s longed for a gladiator game, I put my worries to one side and delved into Ryse: Son of Rome.
The story line follows a roman recruit, Marius. Marius is the son of an ex general of Rome, trained in combat by his farther and is a cut above the rest when compared to any other steel-wielding roman. The game starts with an in-game rendered cinematic of the roman emperor crying for help and protection against the barbarians that are destroying Rome – and from Damocles, the spirit of vengeance. As the camera pans out to the on-going attack, it soon pinpoints our hero locked in a battle with numerous barbarians. This is where you first get to experience the Batman-esque fighting mechanics of the game.
Attacks can be chained together so Marius isn’t often found swinging into the wind. He can dash at the next target or you can try juggling 3 or 4 at a time. Enemies have some variation throughout the quest, those holding a shield have to be stunned, whereas the stronger enemies have attacks that can only be dodged, thus leaving them open to attack. Once an enemy has taken a certain amount of damage a skull indicator appears over their head, this mark is to show you that the player can now be executed. Executions are downright brutal! Swords are plunged into flesh, limbs are severed in anger, the environment can be used to your advantage and these executions can be used simultaneously on two opponents.
Each of your attacks and executions can be chained together to increase your attack multiplier, the higher the combo achieved, the higher the points you will gain. These points can be used to upgrade Marius, they can give him more executions, more health or more “focus”. Focus is the ability to call a power of the gods and slow time for a brief moment, which in some situations is a real life saver. However, the ‘focus’ button being right next to the ‘execution’ button means you can mash this accidentally and wind up dead until you get the hang of it!
The game has a solid story line but can be predictable in places. Ryse: Son of Rome seems to owe the film “Gladiator” more than a tip of the hat, I won’t go too much in depth as the story is still enjoyable.
You’re taken to numerous places during the campaign, including the cliffs of Dover in England, and the once capital of England, York. The CryEngine renders some really incredible scenery and combat environments. It’s stopped me a few times just to look at the light glistening off Marius’s armour, the way the sun beams through the trees and more sinister blood effects in war wounds. The voice acting throughout the game is done pretty well. You get attached to Marius and want him to do well. You’ll feel anger and hate towards certain antagonistic characters which shows a certain level of emotional involvement.
In all, I found the game to be a brilliant launch title. The combat has seen negative press due to its repetitive nature, however for a game that’s designed to be a fighting game, I don’t know what people were expecting? Yes, combat like this can be samey and or viewed as a ‘button basher’ – but when done right, like in Ryse: Son of Rome, the combat can be rewarding and incredibly satisfying. Boasting an 8 hour campaign, collectables, multiple play throughs, co-op online arena and Kinect support for voice commands, Ryse is the perfect package for the Gladiator within.
Fight as a soldier. Lead as a general. Rise as a legend.
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