When it came to choosing which games to get with my Xbox One, Ryse was not one of them. “Yeah it looks good” I thought to myself but it just didn’t appeal to me. One of my friends got early access to it and couldn’t stop talking about how much he enjoyed it. Now I trust this lad without question, so I took some time to look into it more. I didn’t get any hands on time with it until I got to the Xbox One launch party in Central London where it was the only game I played on the night; I couldn’t put it down. Let the following words, sentences and paragraphs tell you why I had so much fun with it.
In Ryse you play Marius Titus, a soldier in the Roman Army who has his world turned upside down when his family are all brutally killed. Marius wants revenge and will stop at nothing to get it. The first thing you will notice is how gorgeous the graphics are. The various locations you are whisked away to look incredible at times whether you are looking at Roman architecture, beaches with bodies and broken ships strewn across them, or vast forests with beautiful lighting breaking through the gaps in the leaves. Crytek have done an excellent job of making the characters in the game look as life like as they do, and the amount of enemies you get on the screen at one time really makes you feel like you are in the middle of a war. Combine this with the war cries resonating with the perfectly conducted soundtrack and it really ticks all the boxes in the presentation section. I quite enjoyed playing through the campaign; the story was enjoyable although historians will have a bit of a fit over the accuracy. It’s a well-paced game giving you just enough time to get over one battle before the next begins.
The combat is good but it isn’t long before it starts to become quite repetitive, which made the final stages of the game more of a slog than it needed to be. Defeating enemies requires you to wear your foes down by slashing at them and blocking or bashing them with your shield, and once you do enough damage you can go in for your finishing move. Pressing the right trigger when a skull icon appears above an enemy’s heads starts a quick time sequence, your enemy will glow in different colours prompting you to hit the correct button on your controller and the result is a gruesome death for your opponent. Some of the executions look more impressive than other and you can unlock more as you play through the game. The quicker you respond to the QTE’s the better your score becomes and you can build up some impressive combos.This, in turn allow you to give Marius upgrades to health and focus, and also allow you to carry more javelins, or pila, which can be thrown at archers or anyone else you feel like. The D-pad give a slight tactical element to the game, pressing in different directions results in things such as extra health and higher damage, or boosts to your XP, but my favourite boost to use is focus, allowing you to stun whichever enemies are around you to give you extra time to get out of a sticky situation.
Once you are done with the single player campaign, which will take about eight hours, it’s definitely worth checking out the co-op missions. In these missions you visit the huge Colosseum and fight wave after wave of enemies, with random objectives thrown in the keep things interesting. You’ll fight all the enemies you are familiar with from the single player as well as taking on archers and catapults. Building up combos and defeating enemies will earn you gold to spend on armour and customising your fighter, but to be honest I spent most of the time running around with half a toga on, because I’m tough like that. Playing with someone else is clearly more enjoyable plus they can pick you up if you are downed during combat. If you enjoyed the campaign you’ll no doubt enjoy the co-op side of the game although it becomes samey rather quickly and you’ll be lucky to find someone random with which to play.
Out of all the Xbox One launch titles Ryse gives you something completely new to play. It isn’t perfect, it gets repetitive quickly and it doesn’t last very long, but the story is pretty good and is arguably the best looking launch title on the Xbox One. There is a Season Pass available for the game which gives you access to 14 multiplayer maps, a new mode, six player skins, fresh level events, and access to a new tier of weapons and armour, but it’s just not worth picking it up unless you become completely obsessed with the online portion of the game.
Ryse for all it does, lacks the wow factor overall for me. I’ve played it, really enjoyed it and promptly forgotten about it. Rent it or buy on the cheap, its definitely worth playing.
MLG Rating: 7/10 Format: Xbox One Release Date: 22/11/13
Disclosure: Dave reviewed his own copy of Ryse. The title was reviewed over the course of one week on the Xbox One. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.