Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Ryse: Son of Rome

While Forza Motorsport 5 may be the big franchise push alongside the Xbox One, it’s Ryse: Son of Rome that takes centre stage as the leading launch title. A brand new intellectual property that pushes mature content, high octane action and some amazing visuals, Ryse: […]
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Electronic Theatre ImageWhile Forza Motorsport 5 may be the big franchise push alongside the Xbox One, it’s Ryse: Son of Rome that takes centre stage as the leading launch title. A brand new intellectual property that pushes mature content, high octane action and some amazing visuals, Ryse: Son of Rome is everything that a launch title could possibly hope for. That it’s an all-too familiar gameplay experience is perhaps to be expected, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a bad one.

Ryse: Son of Rome has suffered from some over zealous critiquing since it’s revised announcement as an Xbox One title, with suggestions that it’s gameplay amounts to little more than a parade of tired QTE sequences. While it may have been easy to argue this at one point, it’s far from the case with the final build. Players will engage in bloodshed through combo-heavyElectronic Theatre Image melee combat, use spears and mounted crossbows to attack enemies at range and march with military might as your unit uses their shields to block the fire-tipped arrows raining from the sky. It’s not clever, but it sure is big.

Ryse: Son of Rome’s combat is the core, and effectively only, gameplay mechanic featured in the videogame. Is less QTE heavy than many may suggest and instead falls folly to the traditional timing input. X and Y buttons initiate attacks that can be alternated and built to some inviting but limited combo attacks, and once a finisher symbol appears above their head the player can perform an execution move. This is initiated with the right trigger, and then completed by pressing the button represented by the colour the enemy glows. Press the wrongElectronic Theatre Image button and you’ll still execute the enemy – including some awe-inspiring context sensitive animations and other, brutal slices – but press correct button and you’ll receive a small boost to your selected bonus specialty.

It’s true that Ryse: Son of Rome features microtransactions with a similar prominence to a free-to-play mobile videogame, however investing in them during the campaign will only ever to your detriment. You can exchange your real world finance for in-game gold which allow you to buy upgrades for Marius, but doing so will only make the combat easier quicker than it should, unbalancing the combat. Which, if you hadn’t gathered by now, is Ryse: Son of Rome’s raison d’etre.

The visual quality of Ryse: Son of Rome is without a doubt the highlight of the videogame. From it’s simply stunning opening sequence fighting across a bridge with a battle stretching out for miles in every direction, to the sheer detail in theElectronic Theatre Image facial and armour animation, Ryse: Son of Rome is without question one of the best looking videogames on either Xbox One or PlayStation 4. The detail in the environments, the skin textures and the variety of combat animations; nothing else comes close. The voice acting is also of the highest standard and the soundtrack has been orchestrated perfectly to suit the on-screen action. To suggest that the production values of Ryse: Son of Rome are top tier simply doesn’t do it justice.

In addition to the single player campaign Ryse: Son of Rome features a two-player co-operative mode. A strictly online-only affair, two players enter an arena generated from a variety of square surfaces and given a singular objective to complete; kill all enemies or disable artillery, for example. Once the objective has been completed the arena will change – a few of the squares will be replaced – and a new objective is given. Electronic Theatre ImageA handful of objectives are completed and the round ends, dishing out the spoils to the two players. It’s an enjoyable co-operative mode in its own right, if somewhat short lived, but when coupled with Smartglass it becomes something much fresher.

Players can spend the gold earned in-game (or purchased via the marketplace) to buy new equipment and customise their multiplayer avatar, however using Smartglass they do can do much than this. Not only are the avatars customisable, but the arenas too. Players can create environments and scenarios from the given toolset and challenge their friends or simply share them online. It’s Electronic Theatre Imagean interesting addition that not only showcases the next-generation potential of Smartglass but also genuinely extends the lifespan of Ryse: Son of Rome.

Ryse: Son of Rome is never going to be the videogame that will sell the Xbox One console to the core demographic, but it works wonderfully as a both a showcase of the capabilities of the console and an example of the kind of mature experiences gamers can expect in the coming years. It’s violent in it’s action and mature in it’s plot delivery, dramatic in it’s aural accompaniment and unequalled in it’s visual quality: Ryse: Son of Rome may not be a revolution for action videogames, but it’s hard to say that’s there’s another videogame that has been better suited to being a launch title for this new generation of consoles.

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