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Ryse: Son of Rome – let’s face it, you’ve had worse launch day dates

Thursday, 21st November 2013 10:59 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Xbox One’s cinematic, gore-splattered historical brawler isn’t as brain dead as it’s been made out to be. Brenna takes it out to dinner, but is it marriage material?

Ryse: Son of Rome

Ryse was first announced as a first-person Kinect exclusive Xbox 360 title in 2011, having been teased under the codename Kingdoms at E3 2010. The project went dark almost immediately, and resurfaced so far down the track many people forgot it had ever been anything other than a traditionally-controlled Xbox One title.

If this sets your alarm bells a-ringing, you may enjoy speculating over a social media shitstorm sparked by Crytek’s flippant admission that the project was in tight crunch as recently as mid-October. It seems to have been in prototyping for an extended period. The project kicked off at the Budapest studio before moving to Crytek Frankfurt.

I think I went out with Ryse once. Smashingly gorgeous, if you didn’t stop to look closely at particular details; utterly brainless; and reasonably good fun if you kept your expectations low. Also quite forgettable, as it turned out, when bigger and better things came along, and I can’t help thinking as soon as the Xbox One produces a slightly better brawler I shall give it a quiet talking to in a bar somewhere and run off with a doctoral student. I mean! Pop it on the shelf and never look at it again.

This is kind of what launch titles – like early relationships – are for. You try them out, maybe get a bit infatuated if you have nothing better to do with your time, and then give ‘em the old heave-ho as soon as you do. Dead Rising 3 and Ryse are the only melee action adventures on the Xbox One’s launch list, so if you want to use your new console to smash things in the face and watch the red stuff spurt everywhere, you’ve basically got to choose between “really long” (Dead Rising 3) and “reportedly a bit short” (Ryse). If that’s up your alley, it’s worth checking out – purely because your other option is sit on your hands and wait.

Crytek has done a bang up job of making the game look pretty, and quite “next-gen”, so you’ll likely be impressed with the amount of detail in the streets of Rome, the huge collection of very solid combat animations, and the general shininess of everything. Disappointingly, there are places where this falls down. With other next-gen and PC titles doing marvellous things with hair, cloth, and skin, it’s frustrating to see how “last-gen” some instances of this are. Granted, you can’t blame Crytek for not wanting to spend six months modelling a character you’ll see for maybe 30 seconds in total, but when this character turns up in the second major sequence it’s a bit of a shame; I can just imagine the detractors jeering at this early section and not admiring some of the later, crowded battles which better show off what development team and hardware can do.

Much has been made of Ryse’s gameplay and whether it is or isn’t all quick-times and button mashing. It is and it isn’t. The best comparison I can make is Assassin’s Creed; you stand in a group of enemies, parry at the right time, determine what kind of strike is possible, and quickly switch back into attack when another enemy goes on the offence. Once an enemy gets low in health you can optionally execute him via a quick time combo, which results in a brutal and satisfyingly gory animation. You can get through this by mashing the buttons brainlessly, but it’s actually far easier to stick with it for a while until you master the timing, which allows you to perform more powerful moves. Is this going to win any awards for innovation or keep your grey cells fully occupied? No. Is it awful? Not really.

Combat is ornamented by totally unnecessary Kinect-powered voice commands. At some points in the game you can optionally shout orders at troops for various effects – there’s one example very early on, where Crytek has to shoehorn a turret section into classical warfare – but it doesn’t seem much faster or more convenient than using the control pad. I’m pretty fond of Xbox One’s voice commands, but in this case, they feel like a bit of a useless novelty. It’s also a little bit immersion breaking to hear one’s piping, school-child tones ordering soldiers about when one has been fancying oneself a burly centurion cloaked in impossibly bulging muscles.

Speaking of silly, Ryse certainly has a plot, full of classical mythology tinkered with just enough to upset purists who might be lured in by the Roman theme. There’s also a multiplayer mode, in case you want to duke it out against your mates, but unless the latter really floats your boat – and why would it, when there are so many deep, worthwhile versus fighters out there? – the staying power of Ryse is mostly “once through the campaign, and once again for missed achievements”. That probably isn’t enough to see you through to the next batch of releases in spring.

I can’t speak for you, but I’m older and wiser these days, and I no longer feel the need to conduct dalliances with lesser beings in between purely A-grade prospects; as such, I doubt I’ll get around to finishing Ryse, or diving into the multiplayer. But that doesn’t mean it’s not right for others; there’s someone for everyone, after all, and it’s important to have these little flings in your callow youth.

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16 Comments

  1. viralshag

    The MP is co-op, not vs. I’m pretty sure of that unless there are other modes. I think it’s more like Mass Effect MP.

    #1 10 months ago
  2. TheBlackHole

    Nice write up Brenna.

    #2 10 months ago
  3. Sini

    Take out the best parts of God of War; awesome looking and vast mythological enemies, skill based combat system with combo variety, out of this world set pieces, and you have monotonous ryse. And no tits either, how do they green light those projects at xbone.

    #3 10 months ago
  4. VibraniumSpork

    @3 I have the feeling that if tits *were* featured in Ryse then they’d solely exist to be lopped off. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

    #4 10 months ago
  5. bradk825

    @1 that’s what I’ve been thinking, and Mass Effect MP was quite addictive for me.

    #5 10 months ago
  6. viralshag

    @5, When I played Ryse it was definitely a co-op arena. I was mostly looking at this title for that co-op style of MP. Like you, I loved the ME MP, kept me playing the game long long after I finished the main part.

    It seems to have a similar style of unlocking gear too. The whole lottery based system is a bit annoying but it’s not a deal breaker for me. As long as I get some good MP out of this then it will fulfill what I wanted it for.

    If I don’t even get that I will be a little disappointed.

    #6 10 months ago
  7. Djoenz

    A titty chopping game Im down for that, but then we should also be able to chop off penises as well.

    #7 10 months ago
  8. VibraniumSpork

    @7 Have you read ‘Y: The Last Man’? The titty-chopping in that was enough to put me off the concept for life (if, in fact, I was ever ‘on’ the concept to begin with).

    Cock-cutting should arguably be considered obligatory in all olden days-style games in this post-Game of Thrones landscape though.

    …aaaaaaand, that’s the weirdest conversation I’ve had for a while.

    #8 10 months ago
  9. tmac2011

    pretty sure im not getting this one, when i get a console…..

    #9 10 months ago
  10. Djoenz

    @8
    Hahaha awesome episode from GOT.

    #10 10 months ago
  11. DarkSoulz

    PS4 Sony site Kotaku gave this a Yes??? I’m buying it.

    DF said its graphically same as Killzone, must suck for sony since this game is only 900p.

    #11 10 months ago
  12. VIVANRED

    @11

    it’s sucks . this game doesn’t having anything except graphic and it’s graphic same as Killzone with a lot of explosion and physic in game that run in 1080p . are they really the same ? are you joking .

    #12 10 months ago
  13. Rosseu

    I don’t usually read long articles but I managed to read this to the end. Good read. Maybe vg247 could make a video review too similar to what IGN does?

    #13 10 months ago
  14. Spider Law

    @11
    I cant find, anywhere, where DF states that Ryse is as technically advanced as Kill Zone. I just read through their performance analysis and i dont see it even mentioned anywhere besides the comments section to which the only 3 comments state that they believe Killzone looks better.

    #14 10 months ago
  15. Hcw87

    @14
    Both games look great, hard to point out a winner visually.

    Killzone SHOULD look better though, with the extra power and all. But i find that Ryse visually looks on par.

    Gameplay though? Both look average, but i’m getting both anyway.

    #15 10 months ago
  16. manamana

    “This is kind of what launch titles – like early relationships – are for. ”
    Only that it’s for years in the making and was a 360 Kinect title …

    #16 10 months ago

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