Ryse: Son of Rome puts the red color of the Praetorian Guard to an erratically fun hack and slash adventure which sheds blood and carnage in all the right places some of the times. Ryse: Son of Rome suffers from a lack of depth in terms of the combat elements, repetitive gameplay, and somewhat losing the Roman solidarity as the gameplay carries on into the 5 hour mark of the 10 hour campaign. While Microsoft and Crytek’s Ryse: Son of Rome is a beautifully stunning glorification of the time period of Roman rule, the dominating conquest greys out in comparison to actual substance and leaves much more to be desired.
Ryse: Son of Rome engulfs players in the opening and often enthralling cinematic set-pieces of its narrative. Marius Titus witnesses the murder of his family at the hands of barbarians (unsettled civilization in Rome’s eyes of conquest) and travels to Britannia where he rises himself through the army with Roman values that beget those of Marcus Aurelius himself. As Marius sets out to avenge his family, it leads him into a storyline with a few twists, betrayal, and much more that besieged the roots of Roman politics. Ryse: Son of Rome’s narrative does dip into the realm of mediocrity in terms of the root story. It is simple in the way the character development seems almost segmented, which is unfortunate when it comes to the hack and slash that further underscores the issues.
The combat system would have been visceral and cutting-edge, but the fact that Marius fights the same enemy models over and over again does not help it much. While valor points can unlock more upgrades, a true system of depth is sparse and the game rarely prompts players to upgrade. Fighting combinations are fun and the execution camera-views are beautiful and that which will satiate fans of Zack Snyder’s ‘300’, but the beauty of the game is also its weakness in the enemy model redundancy and the simplistic quick-time event gameplay. Quick-time events are common but not nearly as much as one would think. The mission structure is fairly linear and the gameplay mechanics seldom seem very varied aside from a few sequences where you lead certain formations into a specific type of cinematic battle. For a lot of things Ryse: Son of Rome does correctly, it cuts itself on its own valor time to time.
Ryse: Son of Rome’s multiplayer seems to be a concept that is genius on paper, but one where the execution lacks formidability. Gladiator mode is fun for a short while, but the glory fades as the upgrades and ultimately the core mechanics of the gameplay of two gladiators fighting for coin and gold dwindle into an array of linear battles with little to win. There is no storyline to it, no fledged ideas, and finally it also suffers from a lot of the same repetitiveness of the single-player.
Ryse: Son of Rome is a beautiful game worth having in any Xbox One launch lineup for the fact that it can be fun at times, and is undeniably a beautiful flagship launch title for the Xbox One lineup, but besides that it can almost be disappointing that such beauty is often marred by its own hidden scars. Ryse: Son of Rome may be a valiant soldier with so much potential in the games arena, but one where the wounds run a little deeper than expected and the potential remains ultimately unfulfilled.