Ryse: Son of Rome might as well be the definition of a launch title game. It holds promise, it showcases certain next-gen elements and it packs gameplay that feels entirely thoughtless and hollow.
Ryse: Son of Rome is nothing more than a decent dressing over a salad made of nothing but iceberg lettuce. I don't even know where that metaphor came from, I'm not hungry.
I'm tired. Ryse made me tired. I slogged through this effort over the weekend, and I walked away bored, feeling robbed of my free time and having engaged in little more than a nine hour quicktime event.
Undoubtedly, you saw the score on your way in. Ryse gets a five. It's a completely average, pretty and entirely boring game. It plays, it will impress you at times, and it will leave you dying for a break at others.
Ryse: Son of Rome is bound for the bargain bins at your local retail store.
Solid Window Dressing
Let's start with the good stuff. Ryse: Son of Rome is a pretty game. Regardless of its resolution, it looks very good in motion and delivers a strong art style.
It also delivers a generic storyline capable of pushing you from start to finish. If you like mediocre stories below solid graphics and monotonous gameplay, Ryse will be an okay purchase in your book.
You play a Centurion dumped in the middle of an epic conflict. As you push your way to what seems like the end of a mission, Ryse does a time jump and unfolds its storyline in front of you. From there, this becomes little more than a revenge plot that we've all soon in Roman Empire flicks at least a dozen times.
It works, though. It's certainly not in the running for Game of the Year, but the storyline and characters coupled with the visual display Crytek put in place set Ryse: Son of Rome up as a playable title that could very well have been well worth your money.
Too bad the repetitive gameplay swooped in in time to knock it back down.
Quicktime Events by Any Other Name…
Watch that video above. Specifically, skip until the three minute mark and watch the combat unfold. That trailer is the official E3 2013 gameplay clip for Ryse: Son of Rome. Notice the quicktime events? Cool.
There was a backlash after those quicktime events were shown off. Gamers were frustrated by how lame next gen gaming's first mega violent brawler looked in demo footage. Press Y, press X, press Y, death.
Alright, now watch this video below. It's from less than two weeks before Ryse's release. Jump to 1:20 into the clip and watch the combat play out.
The button presses? Gone. Instead? Crytek replaced them with color codes… and the color codes, you guessed it, allude to button presses. Yellow is Y, blue is X, press X to murder.
This is Ryse, ladies and gentlemen. Behind the pretty graphics and generic revenge storyline, Ryse is little more than a hack 'n slash quicktime event marathon. It's extremely tedious and extremely boring.
Here's how it works and repeats for the entire game: you'll move forward a bit until you hit a group of enemies. You'll engage by either pressing X to slash or Y to block break. You'll switch between those while pressing A to counter until an icon appears above an enemy's head. Then you'll activate the quicktime event and execute them for health, experience, focus or strength.
That's it. That's combat. And you'll do it again, and again, and again, and again.
Crytek recognized this problem and created this weird focus meter that will let you ignore enemy attacks and spam them with X whenever it builds up. It's really just a shortcut to the quicktime events, though, so don't expect it to dynamically change gameplay.
Just thinking about it is giving me the yawns.
This Should Have Been Better.
Ryse is incredibly boring. As Knack is to the PlayStation 4, Ryse: Son of Rome is to the Xbox One. It's a pretty game with a heap of promise that wound up as little more than an exercise in monotony.
Crytek can do better. Microsoft should have made them do better. Xbox One owners? Demand better. This game will be in the bargain bin soon enough, my friends. Skip it. Wait until it's $5 and go in for the sights alone.
Although, by the time this game hits $5, another developer will marry good graphics with quality gameplay. That's what we wanted from Ryse: Son of Rome. Too bad we didn't get it.
Oh, and one final note: microtransactions for upgrading characters in single player campaigns are really, really dumb. Guess what? They're here. Don't feel like slogging through combat in order to make it easier? You can pay to win, friends. In a single player campaign.
We purchased Ryse: Son of Rome with company funds. We cleared the campaign before starting this review.
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