|System: Xbox One|
|Pub: Microsoft Studios|
|Release: November 22, 2013|
|Players: 1 (2 Online Co-op)|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Sexual Content, Strong Language|
Getting away from individual combat, Marius is a General, a leader of men. To this end, you have control of your legion at certain points throughout the game to accomplish objectives. Place archers at an overwatch position or bring them down on the battlefield with you, form a phalanx with your men to deflect enemy arrows as you approach a tower, or call in a volley of arrows from your archers to help you soldiers on the front line. Of course, you can’t access these options at any time, which limits their impact, but the diversity and distraction they create from other types of combat help to keep things as fresh as possible. Actually, the availability of these commands during the entirety of play would have been a welcome addition to the gameplay that could have made this game much more interesting, but unfortunately, this cinematic, story-focused game scales back gameplay to make way for more groundbreaking visuals. Again, this is a shame.
But it would seem for every point Ryse: Son of Rome gets wrong, it gets another right. The sounds of Ryse are excellent. The audio of a blood-soaked battlefield shines through--screaming men, arrows whipping through the air, the clank of weapons against each other--and the sound of a marching army fill out a soundscape that is teeming with detail. The score is befitting a game of this type, and its orchestral style accentuates story elements far past their immediate value. Commendable voice acting from major characters completes the audio package, giving depth and range to an otherwise shallow story. Although, there were several instances when being approached by a barbarian “boss” of some sort that was supposed to intimidate me, I found myself laughing out loud at the horrendous battle cries that accompanied them. It’s hard to feel any sort of fear when the battle cry of a barbarian elite sounds like a 12-year old pubescent boy. It’s a pockmark on an otherwise pristine soundscape. Just saying.
At the end of the day, even though I had a good time playing Ryse: Son of Rome, it just didn’t have too much to offer. Sure, it has online multiplayer and a gladiator mode, but these regurgitations of the single-player combat engine still feel repetitive and over-used. The story is shallow but well executed, with next-gen visuals and high-end sound production that make the experience worth having, if only once. I saw a lot of potential in Ryse: Son of Rome. With a little love, I could see a sequel to this game with several playable characters, combat styles, and a more diverse command structure that could seriously take this game to the next level. But for now, it is just a “pretty good game.”
Date: November 22, 2013