There has been a lot of negative press about this game. With how much hype it has received on the TV and in printed ads, Microsoft seemed to be basing their launch around this game. How exactly does Ryse stack up?
You play as Marius, the son of the Roman Emperor. After fighting alongside with your father and finding your mother and sister dead, you fight on to see the death of your father. From there you go about seeking revenge for those who killed them. The story is well played out and can be a little predicable as it goes along. There are very little amount of flashbacks here and there to fill in some of the holes that the main story doesn’t quite get to. These help you piece everything together.
The most impressive thing about Ryse is the graphics themselves. It literally looks like you are watching a very well done CG movie. The difference between cut scenes and in game footage is blurred. They can roll right into one another with you hardly ever noticing the difference. There are a few problems here and there but the majority of the game is beautiful looking.
The most common problem that I ran across during the two play throughs that I did was character popping. By that I mean this. One of the scenes it is very evident that the enemy I needed to face wasn’t quite in the starting spot where he was supposed to be. You can see him shortly off in the distance standing by a fire pit with his rock hammer relaxed in his hand. Take a few steps forward and his melee weapon would pop up on his shoulder and the character himself would pop about 2 steps away from where he originally was. It didn’t affect the game at all. Just something that really stood out. There was other little things here and there but nothing stood out like that.
Combat itself was fun at first but as you got further into the story it got really repetitive. On the entire controller, you mainly only use the A, X and Y buttons. A is for blocking an attack, X is for the typical swinging of your sword, while Y is used for breaking down an enemy’s shield and stunning them. This is a timing thing. Once you see the enemies animation and get the timing down it becomes really easy to do. If you hold down either the X or Y button you can produce a strong attack. This does a little bit more damage and takes longer to perform. When you are surrounded by up to 10 enemies at a time it can be hard to pull that off. You can also use the LB and RB buttons as well. Those are only used for special purposes. The LB is used to command your army to do special commands, such as asking the Archery to cover you with arrows. This only happens when the game allows it though. You can’t do it whenever you feel the need. The RB button can be used to activate your special power, called Focus. This will allow time to slow down and increase your attacking speed, or run away in case you feel overly surrounded. Using this on the easiest difficulty is over kill. You can spam it really often making the game a breeze to get through. Once you get an enemy’s health down far enough, a small skull will appear over their head giving you an indication that you can perform an execution. This is done by pressing the RT button and following the QT events. On these you have to pay attention as a picture of a button does not come up. Instead the enemies will have a glow about them on which button to select. If you fail this, nothing really important happens. It just means you won’t receive a lot of the perks. To gain those perks you have to press one of the actions on the D-Pad, those include, down on the D-Pad Health Regen, left on D-Pad Focus points, up on D-Pad Damage Boost and right on D-Pad XP boost. If you complete it successfully you do get more of these points for that specific perk at the end.
Fighting bosses was a little more difficult only because they take more health off when a hit is landed. So you have to go about these with a little bit more strategy. The down side is that their attacks are repetitive. When they start to glow red just simply roll out of the way and then perform a two to three hit combo from behind. When they do a regular attack just block it and you can get some more hits in. Ryse will also break the boss fights down into multiple segments. Each time the boss regains some or all of their health back. Making you do another rinse and repeat fight. The bosses may add in an additional move on the second sequence, but once you see it once or twice you can visually see it coming from the animation. Most of the time it is just a strong attack. Like before, just roll out of the way and continue on.
While playing the game I thought I would try out the Smartglass App. This allowed you to track your progress and helps you find any missing collectibles you didn’t pick up in your first run through. It does lag a little behind in showing your progress through the story. It is best to use the app on a table device. Not all of the options will work on your smart phone. While using my tablet was indeed interesting to help me through the game, it really isn’t necessary. It’s just a nice little gimmick to have in a pinch.
There is also a multiplayer function as well. Unfortunately this only allows 2 people to play online. You fight in a coliseum setting with changing environments. In these there are traps that you can lure your enemies into making things a little easier. Different objectives will come up for you to complete. One might be sitting a pit on fire and then finish killing off the remaining enemies. Another could be taking out some Archers and so forth. It is fairly flat feeling. The combat is exactly the same as the story mode.
The entire game can be completed in less than 8 hours on easy. If you don’t go around searching for the collectibles you might even be able to do it in just over 6 hours. It is a fairly short game. It seems Crytek was more worried about how the game looks then putting length into the game play. Honestly, I wouldn’t pay the full retail price for this game. Wait a few months and the price should start to drop down.