So I’ve spent a couple hours with RYSE: Son of Rome today, and aside from a few technical hiccups it’s been an enjoyable time. For whatever reason the entire first chapter of the game was plagued by flashing white bars that covered my screen during gameplay. Xbox Support on Twitter couldn’t quite figure out what might be causing that issue, but luckily after the first chapter the problem went away. It returned briefly in the fourth chapter but disappeared before the end of the level.
Ryse looks absolutely amazing in both cut scenes and gameplay. It’s not perfect, there are some minor issues here and there that take away from the moment (for example on occasion articles of clothing clip through each other) but for the most part it’s visually stunning.
The gameplay is pretty simplistic and you can mostly button mash through the game on the easiest difficulty setting, but it’s still enjoyable. You have two main attacks with X and Y and when an enemy is weakened enough you can trigger an execution with right trigger. Once triggered the enemy will glow the color of the button you need to press to perfectly execute the combo (blue for X, yellow for Y). For some odd reason even if you don’t push the button the game wants you to push you can still perform the execution, you just don’t get as much XP from it. These executions are quite satisfying no matter how many times you perform them. They’re worth performing because you have a few different abilities that get bonuses from executions. Using the D-Pad you can select one of several abilities such as health restoration, attack bonus, XP bonus or Focus bonus and upon performing an execution you get a boost to the ability you selected. This adds a bit of strategy to the mix because you’ll have to decide whether you want to risk your health in order to get a damage or XP bonus during fights.
You can also push RB to activate the Focus mode which slows down time and makes your attacks incredibly powerful. This is useful when the odds seem overwhelming and it’s quite satisfying to pull of a powerful “sparta kick” with Y that launches your enemy across the screen when it lands.
The story isn’t too compelling, but Ryse sure has some great cut scenes (two of which I highlight in the clip below). I’m about halfway through Ryse and I’m looking forward to finishing it off. It’s worth nothing the story takes only about six hours to complete, but there’s a multiplayer arena mode that I haven’t tried yet. I’d recommend renting Ryse (I got it through GameFly) and giving it a try. If you’ve enjoyed the recent Batman games you’ll likely enjoy Ryse’s gameplay. Before I go, it’s also worth noting the game is completely linear, but that’s not always a bad thing. I’ve enjoyed it.