Ryse: Son of Rome is about the life of Marius Titus, a man who seeks to live his life for Rome as well as his family’s honor. Marius sets out on a quest for vengeance and survival so that he could protect Rome, but like every great game, there are unexpected bumps in the road that try to stop Marius to complete his goal.
A Tale of Revenge and Sacrifice
As I said earlier, Ryse is about Marius Titus and his quest for vengeance. Early on in the game, he experiences an emotional event that changes his life drastically. This starts to shape Marius into the character he was destined to be, but the difference is that with Ryse: Son of Rome, we know how his character will be early on in the game. Ryse: Son of Rome starts off towards the end of the game and takes us through key moments in the life of Marius. It’s completely non-linear and while sometimes that can be overwhelming, the story in Ryse: Son of Rome is an emotional journey especially when things start coming together. There are plenty of shocking revelations that move the story forward and while some things just don’t work, Ryse: Son of Rome was never boring.
A Visual Masterpiece
Ryse: Son of Rome is the game all Xbox One owners must show off to their friends and family. Upon launching the campaign, it’s apparent that we are in for a beautiful experience. From the scenery, the action, the brutality, the enemies, the Roman army and the cut-scenes, Ryse: Son of Rome constantly amazes. It’s an impressive spectacle that immerses the player into the game. At times, I felt that I was really on the battlefield with Marius. What Crytek has done so masterfully was the fact that they “included” the player in the experience. Many games have us playing through levels and then they show us a cut-scene, but Ryse: Son of Rome grabs us and puts us right into the action, betrayal, revenge and bloodshed.
Crytek put a lot of time into the game and it shows. If someone didn’t know that Ryse: Son of Rome was a game, they would probably think that the game was actually a movie because the detail in every aspect of Ryse: Son of Rome is flawless. The audio in the game is also phenomenal. The music in Ryse: Son of Rome is reminiscent to all those epic movies that we watch. When the battles rage on, the music is very appropriate and during the chapter in the woods, the audio is creepy and it fits very well. The best thing about the audio is definitely the voice acting. The biggest standout is Marius and that’s a great thing since he is the main character. The voice acting behind Marius also contributes to the fact that he likeable and an awesome main character in general.
Brutal and Bloody Combat
Ryse: Son of Rome can be considered to be one of the most visceral games ever made. Marius hacks and slashes his way through countless waves of enemies. While the game can be completed by “mashing” your way through the game, it’s not advised. The combat in Ryse: Son of Rome is surprisingly complex and can be rewarding if you take the time and learn the combat system. The combat consists of the X button for attack, the Y button to use your shield and break your opponent’s guard, A to deflect attacks and B to dodge. Other than that, there’s nothing else to the combat, but it’s the execution that brings life into the game.
After attacking an enemy enough times, a skull will pop over their head enabling Marius to go in for an execution. These executions are shocking and brutal. The expressions on their faces during their deaths will make many people cringe. While I saw some executions more than once, they never got old. I continually was impressed by the fluidity and the sheer brutality on-screen. A lot of work was done to truly make the player feel like they were actually battling in Rome and Crytek succeeded.
With the combat, you can pull off those executions as well as double-executions. Double-executions take place when two enemies are close to you and they both have skulls over their heads. When Marius pulls of executions and combos in general, he will gain experience to level up. You can use these experience points to buy more executions as well as leveling up four different stat levels. You can increase health, focus, combat and gain. Increasing stats is a great thing, but it unfortunately makes Marius feel like an unstoppable force and that got me mad. It almost seemed as if Marius became too overpowered. Some people may not like the combat in Ryse: Son of Rome, but it’s a surprisingly deep combat system that will please people who want to fully experience all of what Ryse: Son of Rome has to offer.
One other cool little feature is the use of Kinect. You can use a button command to give your soldiers orders, but Kinect makes the process so much easier. For example, by saying “Fire Volley”, your army will shoot a barrage of arrows to destroy your opposition. There are other commands that are a nice added touch.
Ryse: Brothers In Arms
After completing the campaign, in’s time to take your skills over to the multiplayer arena. There are three modes that you can play. You can play Arena with is a series of two rounds that you’ll play with a friend or a randomly matched player. In Arena, the Colosseum is transformed into a new environment. It could be a forest, ruins, meadow and plenty of other environments and that’s cool because it adds variety into the game. Another good thing is that Arena doesn’t just consist of killing all of the enemies that come your way. There are also objectives that will be given throughout the rounds. They can include capturing a base, burning down outposts, rescuing villagers, etc.
In addition to watching out for enemies, you must also be aware of your co-op partner and the crowd in the Colosseum . When your co-op partner falls in combat, you can go and revive him, but it can be difficult if there are plenty of enemies on-screen. The other thing to watch out for is how the crowd is reacting to your actions in the session. If they are bored, you won’t do as well. The more that they are enjoying your performance, the more you shall receive.
Another cool thing about multiplayer is the fact that each of the players can choice a “God Power” Each power gives the player access to a specific focus attack as well as a stat boost. The stat boost affects both players s there is no need for each player to choose the same “God Power.” If you don’t want to play a short session, you can choose the Round To Round gametype. This is essentially the same gametype as Arena, but after each round, you can choose the next environment. Finally, you can play Arena by yourself in the Solo mode. It’s the same gametype, but it’s a lot tougher on your own.
The cool thing about Ryse: Son of Rome’s multiplayer is the fact that as you level up and complete matches, you are given gold which can be used to buy booster packs. These packs come with new armor and weapon choices that can be used to strengthen your gladiator. It adds variety and increases your stats. Throughout my experience with these multiplayer modes, I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of depth and fun that was to be had with these modes. If the community is strong, I think that this game will thrive for a while.
Ryse: Son of Rome had a lot to prove. After such a lackluster reveal and tons of negative buzz, it almost didn’t seem like Ryse: Son of Rome would even succeed. This game was the underdog in the launch line-up for the Xbox One, but Ryse: Son of Rome came out swinging and rightfully took its place as the sleeper hit for launch. It’s a great game that completely surprised me. Even after finishing the game, I just craved more. That says a lot about a game. I hope that Crytek decides to revisit the world established in Ryse: Son of Rome, but if they don’t, I’ll be okay because I don’t mind playing this game multiple times.