One look at Ryse: Son of Rome; you’ll know that Next Gen has arrived. The detail, the scale and the overall visual treat that it throws at you, like a kid with an open mouth at the machine spewing candy! Except, that it’s not throwing candy at you, but bitter pills that are candy coated.
Yeah, that’s how Ryse feels. The visuals get you sucked in, but the game-play makes you want to get out. What initially seems like an impressive system based on precision and timing (Infinity Blade anyone?), coupled with nice visual cues and stunning slow-motion animations, soon descends into a mind-numbing button watch and mash exercise. Within the hour you will realize that combat training is just this much. Nothing more, nothing less. Sure, you have tons of other things, like block, parry etc. but that doesn’t count now does it?
What I did love about the game though was the gruesome stabs and bloody dismemberments that are in-your-face, thanks to the quick-time finishing; it just screams of brutality. BUT it does get repetitive super fast! Also the fact that the executions don’t actually take any skill to pull off; you can quite literally set your controller down and the animation will play out the same way. Fast button presses earn bigger experience point rewards, but the animation does not change! Given that there’s only maybe five or six enemy types throughout Ryse, the many combat scenarios quickly become reruns of the same tactics – dodge, shield bash, swipe with the sword, repeat, execution, over and over and over. It sorely reminds me of that gladiator mini game in Sports Champions… in hindsight, that was probably more fun!
Ryse: Son of Rome’s next-gen qualities are jaw dropping! One look, and you know that Crytek’s latest CryEngine iteration has made some huge steps in the right direction. Coming to faces and human bodies, I think the developers have really pushed the standard to new levels. But again, all this visuals is torn down by the game-play and to make it more frustrating, the characters look almost the same, and there are just 4-5 types of them; which again gets repetitive very fast! It reminds me of Double Dragon, where you’d be fighting 2 Abobos, dressed exactly alike.
Coming to multiplayer and on-line, there is a co-op mode, but it’s a serious let down as, it has everything the single player has and adds gold, looting and a slow and sluggish upgrade system. What’s sad in co-op is that you will watch you’re partner suddenly just idling, but he/she will actually be in the midst of an execution! There’s tons of armor and weapons you can get, but if you can bear going through the repetitive hell, you may find it does add a little bit of longevity to the game. Not for me it didn’t though. At this point, I had already given up on the game.
Overall, the game-play does not help worthy of a launch title, but yes, the visuals certainly do. We’d however strongly recommend that you stay away from this game if you’re trying to purchase it.