Developer(s) – Crytek Frankfurt
Publisher(s) – Microsoft Studios
Director – Cavat Yerli
Producer – Vidanjor Niyazi
PEGI – 18
Originally released as a launch title for the Xbox One, Ryse: Son of Rome was designed to showcase what the Xbox One was capable of at the earliest stage of its shelf life; however, in the long term, the most interesting thing about this game has been the history behind its development and beyond. Phil Spencer of Microsoft claimed that it certainly wouldn’t be compatible with the Kinect peripheral, which could potentially throw many gamers for a loop, since not only was it originally meant to have been compatible, but it defeated the object of bundling the console with the sensor, to begin with. After the development and release of the game, relations between Crytek and Microsoft soured, as a dispute over the ownership of the Ryse IP would lead to the cancellation of a planned sequel. But in my opinion, I think this was for the best since I believe very little in the prospect of it turning into a prolific series of games, as I thought very little of the game overall.
Graphics – 9/10
The best aspect of the title as expected, or perhaps as per intended, is the visuals. Looking better than most other Xbox 360 games on a technical level, it gave gamers an extremely good idea of the kind of graphics they could expect to see throughout the beginning of the eighth generation, and how they could possibly be improved upon in the near future. The conceptual design is also fairly diverse, with the game taking place in several different kinds of locations, as opposed to it just taking place in the typical Roman coliseum or great cities as most gamers would have initially expected.
Gameplay – 5/10
The gameplay, whilst easy enough to master after a time, unfortunately, becomes extremely repetitious extremely quickly. It relies heavily on combat, mixing mechanics of both God of War and Assassin’s Creed, albeit presenting gamers with a much more linear experience than both of the aforementioned examples. There are only a few side quests to go back and do, giving it a small bit of replay value, but like other launch titles of the time like Knack, they offer little in the way of incentive for playing it again.
Controls – 10/10
Though the control scheme of this game was inspired by many other seventh-generation games and therefore lacks uniqueness in this respect, it does the things that it does more than well enough, and there are no unnecessary complications with it. The context-sensitive finishing moves than can be executed are actually a nice touch, making combat somewhat interesting.
Lifespan – 2/10
Unforgivably, one playthrough of this game can be made to last around 2 to 3 hours, which for a game that had as big a budget as it did, and for a game that had at least a few side quests, is pathetic. The Xbox One’s announcement and launch periods seemed to me like a catalog of errors, and in hindsight, it’s no wonder to me that they failed to hit the ground running, or catch up with the PlayStation 4 in terms of sales figures.
Storyline – 7/10
Though I don’t think it could be described as a saving grace, the game’s story isn’t too bad. It involves a Roman soldier named Marius Titus, as he works his way through the ranks of the Roman army, along the way, uncovers the truth behind the murder of his family. The story draws inspiration from both God of War and the film Gladiator, though whilst there is a fair bit of depth to it, it falls very short of either one of those inspirations.
Originality – 0/10
To me, this game follows too many pre-existing tropes used in video games countless times before it for me to call it unique. If Crytek truly wanted to create a franchise from this one game, then major adjustments would have to have been made, and every aspect drastically improved upon. There may be scope for them to do this if they decide to in the future. They could even most probably set it in an entirely different period in history, or a bigger in-game world if they so desired. In any case, it wouldn’t take much effort to top the original.
In summation, Ryse: Son of Rome is one of the weaker launch titles I have come across. The gameplay is bland, it lasts too short an amount of time, even for a linear AAA game and it fails to stand out in the long term.