Xbox One Launch Titles: Review Round Up - Ryse: Son of Rome Rejected [VIDEO]

By Luke Caulfield , Updated Nov 22, 2013 09:29 AM EST
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Thanks to an early hands on, we had a feeling this would happen. It seems that of the Xbox One's complete launch library, Ryse: Son of Rome just wasn't meant to be one of those must have games. Average at best seems to be the consensus from most outlets, and that's being generous. See for yourself below.

Joystiq, 5/10 - "Ryse: Son of Rome is, graphically, a stunning game. It's a real marvel to watch gorgeous locales get flooded with hordes of barbarians jostling toward our hero, Marius Titus, who fights them off with expert swordplay and brutal executions. At first, the experience definitely has the power to enrapture. But then, a few minutes go by and the seams start to show - and split. Combat never changes, offering all of its tricks up front. Execution animations repeat again and again, despite your ability to unlock new ones as the game progresses. The same enemy types appear ad nauseam, pitting Marius against a world-record series of twins, triplets and so on. If Crytek's Xbox One action game is to be believed, the history books have it all wrong. The reason for Rome's fall wasn't decadence, economic problems or social division; it was sheer boredom."

Destructoid, 5/10 - "While Crytek is quick to disguise them from being presenting as QTEs (and cleverly ditched a button icon in favor of painting enemies blue or yellow), they're still very much quick-time events. For every enemy you execute, you'll press a combination of buttons that results in an instant kill, while everyone else in the fight stands there and watches. If you press the buttons correctly -- great! You'll earn a bonus in whatever stat you chose. If not, no worries -- they'll die instantly anyway. Point blank, executions should have only been used for boss fights. There's a reason many other games (God of War) sparingly use mini-games like these -- any normal gamer doesn't want to have to go through a five- to ten-second scene for every single enemy in the game. It just doesn't make sense, and it boggles the mind as to why the developers thought it would be cool after the first two or three instances."

GameInformer, 6/10 - "When protagonist Marius Titus lowers a foe's defenses and goes in for the kill, the speed of the fray slows to a crawl, giving us a good look at why Ryse: Son of Rome will simultaneously draw gawking glances and be rendered unappealing. In this measured moment, we see Marius' segmented armor shift with the contortion of his body, the cloth beneath it rippling as he raises his arm, and the skin on his face tightening as his mouth opens in a furious rage before he slits his opponent's throat. This spectacle is every bit as breathtaking as it is brutal, standing tall as a showpiece of next-generation technology. But what hand did the player have in this execution? Little to none...When I show my friends what Xbox One is capable of graphically, I'm going to pop in Ryse. The visuals are breathtaking, but the gameplay flips on a dime between being legitimately fun and downright bad. There is no middle ground. It's very much the extreme of both."

OXM, 7/10 - "In the olden days, magazines would have excite-o-meters. These scientific devices measured the hype differentials surrounding a game, and calibrated them against a range of anticipation parameters, correcting for PR spin. The strangest thing about Ryse? Microsoft has been pushing it pretty hard, but none of that marketing has ever really translated into a twitch on the needle of the excite-o-meter. Mis-communications and radical changes in direction have left us too confused to be excited. With that in mind, Ryse is a pleasant surprise. One of its unexpected strengths, especially coming from Crytek, is that the story is genuinely entertaining. The campaign missions are profoundly linear trails through combat setpieces, but they're bookended with a great soap opera story of honour, gods, and vengeance. One thing I never expected from Ryse? To have to worry about spoilers in the review. Movie-grade acting performances make the heroes genuinely likeable, and the villains pantomime-despicable. The animation, too, while not managing to quite escape the uncanny valley, is unusually good - like a shiny-skinned Enslaved....Ryse looks spectacular, as you'd expect from Crytek, and the basic combat is extremely satisfying - even if it doesn't evolve much over the game. Meanwhile, the Gladiator Mode gives the game longer appeal, but is poisoned by randomised, monetised, loot."

Kotaku, Yes - "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 to not like very much, so let's give it one more label: a pleasant surprise on day one for Xbox One...I'm not sure if seven years of development ensures we'll get a sequel to Ryse to 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 as the blueprint for a more spectacular and more complicated game. Or Ryse could stand on its own as what it is: an interesting, weirdly violent yet somehow also attractive detour."

Well, at least it looks purdy. Case in point, check out the launch trailer below.

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