Backlog Burner Episode 21 :: Ryse- Son of Rome

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Crytek is known for two things- creating games that make you go “hot damn! This looks good!” and making a play on words with the letter Y. I mean just look at it: Far CrY, CrYsis, RYse and even CrYEngine. What’s next, TrYing Too Hard? There was a time when gamers worldwide hailed Crytek as the Messiah of PC gaming. These guys deserved it too. If you were alive and kicking during the days of Crysis, you’d know why. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Uninspired games, money troubles, and internal conflicts have turned the company to a shadow of its former self.

A lot of these troubles surfaced with Crytek’s Ryse: Son of Rome, a launch title for the Xbox One. In my opinion, Ryse is to Microsoft what The Order 1886 is to Sony: A glorified tech demo aimed to show off the capabilities of the then-new gen hardware. It’s pretty but boring. It has its moments, but they’re far and few between. It’d be a lie if I say I’m disappointed. After all, I picked up the game 5 after it’s original launch on PC. That too on a Steam sale for little more than a dollar. For it to disappoint me, Ryse would have to be the most horrible game ever created. You just can’t beat that price.

As the name suggests, Ryse: Son of Rome drops you in the shoes of battle-hardened Roman soldier Marius Titus during a full-on Barbarian invasion on the ancient empire. While Rome burned, Nero fiddled I guess. Being the badass he is, Marius kicks pagan butt and escorts king Nero to safety. The story unfolds through a set of flashbacks told by the man himself in the presence of the king. Prepare to get triggered if you happen to be a history buff or worse, a history student. You can see from the get-go that Crytek didn’t go for historical accuracy. I mean, how are you going to justify depicting the bad guy from Gladiator as the son of Nero? I really hope no kid will write the story of Ryse in their school test papers. *Cough* Assassin’s Creed *Cough*. Anyhow, the story is basically Marius going from an inexperienced grunt to the stuff of legends by playing a crucial role in a few campaigns. Because that’s how Roma works!

When it comes to gameplay, Ryse is your standard, linear third-person action game, or as I like to call it, Crytek’s version of Call of Duty’s campaign with people running around in armored tutus. Everything you expect from a CoD campaign can be found here; top-tier production quality, Michael Bay explosions, Hollywood Healing, epic gamer moments aka scripted set-pieces and a painfully short length. Ryse isn’t a terrible game by any means. It’s just very generic. You go from set-piece to set-piece doing the same two things over and over again for 5-6 hours till the credits roll. There are a few goosebump-inducing moments here and there, especially near the climax. But for the most part, these moments do nothing but make your eyes roll.

The best thing about Ryse is also its worst feature; i.e the combat system. The combat system is what you get when the Arkham series and Assassin’s Creed III has a volatile, carnal relationship. The free-flowing combat is ruined by “epic” slow-mo, quick-time event based executions that form the crux of the gameplay. Don’t get me wrong. It’s very much polished and there’s a wide variety of animations, but the executions themselves take too long and there’s hardly any challenge. Occasionally you get to lead the charge against the enemy forces or defend a particular location. But even these are not enough to hold your attention in the long run. Deja-Vu is Ryse‘s bane.

But there are some redeeming features to Ryse. As I said, the game gets super-cheap during Steam sales. It won’t cost you much more than a Biriyani. Like all the other Crytek games, Ryse is absolutely stunning to look at, even today. You can probably get some nice screenshots off of it for your Steam showcase. One thing that did piss me off was how the game ran. Even on an SSD, the load times are not that good. Plus there was this weird microstutter and fps fluctuation every now and then that really pulled me out of the experience. But should I really take this much piss on the game? The 100 rupees I spend on Ryse did give me 7 hours of entertainment and I have been known to waste time and money on crappier stuff. I don’t know about you, but that’s a win in my book.

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