A story of tragedy, revenge and lots of blood.
This week at GGUK we are going to be reviewing one of the exclusive launch titles for the Xbox One. A game that has been through an epic journey, seeing the focus of the game change several times by the developer Crytek before finally being ready. The game we will be reviewing is Ryse: Son of Rome. So will it rise above the competition to be a hero of the coliseum? Or will it fall and just be a quick lunch for the lions?
Ryse sees you taking the roll of Marius Titus, a soldier in the Roman army, returning home to see his family from the front lines of the empire. It all goes wrong as barbarians start attacking the great city that is Rome. It’s at this point the game cuts to you repelling the barbarian invasion and rescuing the emperor, Nero. Fighting your way to a secret chamber under the city, Marius tells the emperor his back story and you learn just why these events have happened.
The story of Marius starts off with him serving in a relatively peaceful unit the 2nd legions, which are tasked with guarding Alexandria. While on leave as he visits home, family time is cut short as the before mentioned barbarians attack, which results in both his mother and sister being killed and sees Marius swear his revenge on the invading enemies.
He runs to the side of his father, a legend in Rome and a man who could have been emperor. Both fight their way through the streets of Rome forcing back the barbarians. Ultimately Marius’ father falls in battle by his son’s side. Devastated, Marius is given a promise by Commander Vitallion, who was a friend of your father, and makes him a promise that if its blood what he wants, then he will get blood to have vengeance for his slain family. It’s at this point Marius transfers to the 14th legion and takes the fight to the home of the barbarians, Britain, and starts on the road to his vengeance.
It’s from this point the story kicks off seeing Marius fighting for his family and the truth about what happened, seeing you clock in between six and seven hours for the campaign from start the finish. Heads are severed, torsos are relieved of their limbs and impalement could have been an Olympic sport.
The game is a third person action game in the vein of God of War and sees combat focused mainly around a core mechanic using sword and shield. This is very similar to the combat seen in the Batman Arkham series, it’s all about timing and breaking the enemies guard. If you button bash, you will not last long.
On top of the standard combat system there is an execution system in the game that sees you perform a bloody show of force. Once you wear the enemy’s health down, they flash a colour of a face button – so yellow, green, blue or red – which then starts off a two to three button combo which will also earn you extra health, XP or focus which can be used itself to unleash a rage mode. This turns you into a berserk killer as long as the bar is full. Though these QTE are in the game, at no point did it feel like I had to do them all the time as you choose to do them or just continue to hack away. But with you earning bonuses from doing them and the added fact that there are hundreds to see and do, then they are not really an issue and don’t take anything away from combat.
Along with the sword combat there are also sections where you get to use flaming crossbows to mow down hordes of barbarians.
The Xbox One title features micro-transactions, but like most of these systems’ games, if you play through the game you will get enough XP to unlock most if not all. This should be seen as more of a lazy tax than a must buy or need to buy, as the game will give you the skills and abilities you need as you play through the campaign.
On top of this the game also has Smartglass features which let you search for multiplayer games without leaving the single player mode. It also shows you a guide of each and every collectable in the game, and videos on where to find them. As well as letting you look at which collectables your friends have found.
As for graphics, the game is truly stunning and Crytek have really got a lot out of the new hardware. Other than Forza 5, this is possibly the best looking game on the Xbox One to date. From crowned cities to fog soaked moors, the game is a joy to look at, when you’re not showering the backdrops in a flood of crimson. The sound of the weapons clashing and limbs breaking are all satisfying to hear, and the soundtrack would sound at home in a Ridley Scott epic.
When it comes to the multiplayer, the game has a co-op arena horde style mode which sees you and a friend teaming up to entertain a coliseum full of blood thirsty Romans. The mode does keep things varied with different settings and objectives, but also tells a story in a pantomime style with geeing and booing to boot. The amount of play you get out of the multiplayer is dependent on how heavily you and your co-op partner enjoy the mode, as once you have played the maps there is no real reason to go back to them unless you’re looking to level up your character. New DLC maps in the future would be more than welcome.
Ryse: Son of Rome is a visual work of art from start to finish. Add to that a solid combat mechanic which is fun and easy to get to grips with, and a good, albeit light, multiplayer mode and you have a solid entry of a new IP that hopefully Microsoft and Crytek will continue. And it’s a great game to add to your Xbox One library and a good strong launch title.
You sold me queer giraffes?