Ryse: son of rome: the kotaku review

Ryse: Son of Rome is what I want from a next-gen game. It's something different. And it's something impressive.

Ryse is also a game I expected khổng lồ not like very much, so let's give sầu it one more label: a pleasant surprise on day one for Xbox One.

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Seven years in the making by a collection of studtiện ích ios under the Crytek umbrella, Ryse is the adventure of one Marius Titus, a Roman soldier who has both the will to defend his people and the skill to chop off his enemies' arms.

Marius is the star of a very brutal game... a game of combat, a game of killing, a game that was recently & notoriously likened to being as much fun as dialing phone numbers, a game supposedly full of quick-time events, a game that used to be for Kinect, a game from the people who usually bring you first-person shooters & not third-person melee games, a game that...yes, I thought Ryse was going khổng lồ suông chồng.



We've sầu got a head-turning beauty of bloody historical fiction mix at the time of Nero nearly two millennia ago. This is a third-person action game, though it doesn't look that much like action games I've played before. We don't play many games set in this era nor have sầu we gamers had many chances to lớn line up with centurions against barbarians in ancient Rome or charge the shores of Roman-occupied Britannia.

We also don't play many games where the camera is in this tight. The characters are often massive in Ryse, as if the designers wanted to lớn impress you with the Xbox One's graphics by making it seem like you're closer khổng lồ them. "Here, look at this!" Ryse says as it grabs you by the collar và moves your face to lớn the TV.

Some games show off graphics just lớn, well, show off. Rarely can you point to great graphics & say that they improve the gameplay, but in Ryse, they vì. They help distinguish Ryse from being just another brawler. They excuse, lớn some extent, the game's constricting linearity and invisible walls. They aid Ryse's gameplay by supporting a melee combat system that works best if you, the player, visually "reads" your character's movements.

See, Ryse risks being an awful game by introducing the oddity of combat sequences that are impossible lớn fail. The game allows the player to activate optionally-interactive sầu finishing sequences, dubbed as "executions," that will work play out & kill an enemy even if you vì nothing. What could be a travesty, however, turns out to lớn be something novel & enjoyable: a combat system that switches from manual to lớn automated and that, when it switches, rewards players who read the graphics well. It empowers the player who can anticipate their character's next moves based on his complicated animations và who can bởi this with such finesse that they can raông chồng up scores, chain combos, purchase more extravagant moves and, all the while, infuse their character with better & better stat boosts.

Sure, you could just sit baông xã và let Ryse play itself half of the time, or you could get involved with the gameplay & play it like a combo-driven action game, one that assumes you can follow the flow of the action.

I admit that this is an odd way to present combat in a game, but it drew me in almost immediately. As each encounter in the game begins, you'll feel like you're playing a standard third-person action game. You're a skilled fighter surrounded by two, three, four or more enemies. In this variation, you're a Roman soldier with a sword & shield, hacking and bashing, pushing metal through bone. Your enemies will take turns attacking, as they tend to in action games. You'll strike or push, heavy strike or heavy push, bloông chồng or roll. As you dent their defenses, you'll get a signal that you can start an execution.

Trigger an execution & the enemy is dead meat. It's guaranteed. You will be able lớn play out whichever grisly one the game cues up for you, pulling from a pool of dozens of executions you've unlocked. At these moments, your inputs are reduced to lớn pushing the Xbox One controller's yellow Y button or the xanh X. Or you could vì chưng nothing. Ideally, you'll do something! But the kill will happen anyway.

The impossibility of failure and the simplithành phố of commands during these executions should ruin things. It should earn the game scorn. Yet this is where Ryse's graphics & animations save it & elevate the combat system. As Marius begins his execution sequence, he might first swing his shield at his enemy's head, then stab hyên in the chest and then pull that sword out. That'll be a Y-X-X bộ combo. You won't trigger it. You won't even dial up that bộ combo. You're really just reacting to prompts. The bad way of doing that is lớn wait & wonder whether Marius' enemy will suddenly be highlighted blue or yellow và then react to lớn that. The better way to lớn do this is lớn appreciate the graphics và actually watch Marius' movements. If he is about to use his sword hand, be ready to press X. If he is about to use any other part of his body toàn thân to lớn attachồng, use Y. This might not seem lượt thích a big difference, but it is. It feels special, because because the tells that the player is reading aren't those of his enemy's but those of the exceptionally well-rendered main character. (Okay, I just said 'it feels special' about some of the most realistically depicted ultraviolence I've ever seen in a game. The violence in this game can get a bit weird. More on that in a bit.)

During the executions, the player's challenge is to lớn watch Marius' arm and leg movements and understand them, lớn essentially anticipate them. This is a different way lớn relate lớn a game character & one that works well. It works because of the reward. If you wait for the color prompts before figuring out which button khổng lồ press, you're playing a guessing game or a reflex text. You're reacting to known information rather than reading movement and essentially moving with the game. If you just wait for the color prompts you're also likely to be slower và to lớn merely pull off a "recruit" or "soldier"-màn chơi execution. These are worth little. If you instead focus on reading Marius' movements, you'll consistently be able to pull off "centurion" or even "legendary" executions. Those superior execution ratings greatly raise your combo meter & earn you more points in whichever of four categories of execution Marius has performed. He can, to be clear, bởi vì executions that earn hyên health points, focus points, damage points or experience points, all of which are useful và all of which can be triggered on the fly before or even during a killing sequence.

All of this execution stuff works well thanks to lớn the absurd number of executions programmed inkhổng lồ the game. Marius can unlock some 98 ways to lớn exedễ thương his enemies, 42 of which are reserved for when the player weakens two enemies and tries to lớn exeđáng yêu both in one sequence. That amount of variety makes it harder to lớn predict which execution Marius will bởi vì next, keeping the player guessing & forcing them to lớn, as noted, focus on their character's movements.

The better you vì chưng in combat, the more points you earn, the more executions you unlochồng, the more of Marius' skills you increase, the better you can bởi vì in combat. The progression is simple & keeps combat engaging even when the game is sending a few too many of the same enemies at you.


The above sầu may seem lượt thích a big info-dump about a game's combat system, but Ryse is its combat system. It is a continuous brawl through one strikingly-rendered place after another, told in flashbachồng as Marius explains khổng lồ the Roman emperor Nero just who he has been & who, through so much bloodshed, he has become. The story in the game is decent, if unsurprising. Family members are props who are there just lớn trigger obvious predictable moments. Our nhân vật is the righkiểm tra man around in a world of moral monsters. Rome is burning. A Son of Rome must rise. You can figure it out and you can safely assume some echoes from Gladiator300.

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The Batman Arkham games are also defined by their own wonderful combat system, but they have Batman lore và a lot of exploration lớn hook people who are bored of video clip game punching và kicking. Assassin's Creeds have their building climbing, never-ending conspiracies &, recently, naval battles. Ryse has less. Just the combat, the graphics và the historical setting, though those simple elements vì cohere well. As I played, I was repeatedly reminded of the similarly spartan first Assassin's Creed. That game proved to be a great blueprint for a richer sequel, but in its time also served as a nice short trip to another era with some basic, solid and somewhat unconventional gameplay. Ryse is like that & gorgeous, too. From old cities khổng lồ forests & bogs & seaside towns, the game regularly looks amazing.


Sometimes Ryse doesn't play the way I've sầu described it. Sometimes Crytek makes Marius man an arrow-shooting turret. Sometimes Marius needs khổng lồ throw spears instead of swing a sword. And sometimes, in the game's dopiest moments, you need lớn yell at the Xbox One's Kinect to lớn tell your fellow Roman soldiers to lớn fire volleys of arrows & protect Marius. All of that passes briefly & at least cleanses the palette.

I prefer the rare moments when you can hunker down with your fellow Roman legionnaires và march a phalanx toward an enemy emplacement. In these moments, the camera is tighter still, though this time the game developers really are just showing off. You're usually marching toward enemy archers và the idea is to either advance as a unit or hunker down with shields held overhead. You should vị the latter when a storm of arrows is incoming. Hunkering down looks cool, & each arrow that stabs its way inkhổng lồ one of your men's shields sends a sting of vibration through the Xbox One controller. Then you un-hunker, commvà your men to lớn march or rear bachồng & have everyone throw a spear of their own. The projectiles fly. You march. It's a cool moment.


Ryse goes by fairly quickly. It's maybe 10 hours long in normal difficulty. Toward its over, it begins to feel like that first Assassin's Creed: more foundation or blueprint for a great new game, more proof of a slightly different concept. It also feels, in its eighth & final chapter, lượt thích the Kinect game it once was. The action is more on rails in that chapter. There's less choice. It feels like a different game. Mostly, though, the game feels tight & tryên. It moves from place to place quickly, doesn't linger on any one moment too long, doesn't waste player's time with dull fights or padded battles.

I bởi vì wonder about the game's one excess, though. It can be uncomfortably gory. The game certainly conveys that ancient war was brutal, but it also fetishizes vicious executions with its close-up graphics. It's hard khổng lồ see how Ryse's full bộ system would work as well without the violent punctation depicted by the executions, but it'd be dishonest for me to say it left me unbothered. Seeing the whites of their eyes is one thing. Seeing the whites of their bones is something else.

Let's think happier thoughts lượt thích... friendship! Camaraderie! The, um, opportunity for co-op executions of computer-controlled brutes! Ryse includes a multiplayer suite that can be played co-op or, oddly, solo. You fight in the Roman Coliseum using a modified version of the game's combat system. Your nameless multiplayer gladiator starts out nearly naked but can unlochồng much better gear. You don't exactly earn it. You earn gold, mostly by keeping the Roman crowd entertained, & then you can spkết thúc that gold on random packs that might contain boosts and upgrades. Mass Effect 3's multiplayer used a similar system, &, as with Mass Effect 3, you can pay real money to get gold for buying those packs. A simple cấp độ progression does prohibit profligate players from splurging on the best packs on day one. I liked what I tried of multiplayer but will withhold further comment about it until I play more post-launch. I'll update this Đánh Giá when I vì chưng.

I'm not sure if seven years of development ensures we'll get a sequel to Ryse to lớn make the effort worth it or if it guarantees that the developers will never try this again. I'd be fine either way. Ryse's setting, graphics and novel combat system could serve sầu as the blueprint for a more spectacular và more complicated game. Or Ryse could stvà on its own as what it is: an interesting, weirdly violent yet somehow also attractive sầu detour.

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I'd like khổng lồ think that Ryse is an example of the kind of fresh re-thinking we'll experience on the new generation of consoles. Why not move sầu the camera in? Why not set the game in ancient Rome? Why not let players yell at archers to lớn lob in some support? Actually, no, never vày that last one again. Ryse arrives with low expectations & demonstrates that looks can make a difference in gameplay. That's a next-gen tăng cấp I can enjoy.