Xbox One Brings Rome To Life In “Ryse”

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As a gamer, one could imagine the excitement I felt when I was told that I had a chance to test out new video games that haven’t been released yet. But being a fan of fantasy games and PlayStation, which has a lot more of those games to offer, I wasn’t so excited when found out I’d be trying out Xbox One games like “Call of Duty: Ghost,” “Battlefield 4,” “Dead Rising 3.”

Even though I’m not a fan of this console I was still happy to play their video games, like “Ryse: Sons of Rome.” The name alone reeled me in.Ryse (2)

As I was watching the game’s opening scene, the first thing to come into my head was “God of War.” It’s a combat game that takes place in Ancient Greece, in which the player controls the main character Kratos, a warrior who serves the Gods. “Ryse” takes place in Ancient Rome. The game play revolves around leading a Roman infantry as well as fast-paced combat and finishing moves during the battle.

Both “God of War” and “Ryse” are gory and fast paced — so “Ryse” is probably not the best choice for first time gamer.

The game’s commands are pretty straightforward and easy to memorize, but putting them into action is a bit more challenging. With several enemies coming at you left and right as early as the game’s first level, you have to let your reflexes do the thinking and quickly defend, block, and attack. “Ryse” is a combo-based game. This means the faster you are at executing combinations like block-attack-defend or block-attack-attack,  the faster you’ll clear through each enemy.

What makes “Ryse” different than other combo-based combat games is that it actually gives you fewer combo options, which could make combat get a bit repetitive and dull. But when I interviewed “Ryse” Design Director P.J. Esteves, he told me they wanted to give players options.Ryse (1)

“We want a combat system to feel like there’s a lot of creativity in it. We don’t want to prescribe combos,” he said.

More often than not, in “Ryse: Sons of Rome,” you will have to juggle two or more enemies at once, and attack one as you push off the other. Then, once you either defeat or stagger the first enemy, you will have to turn around and fight the other one.

If this review has yet to pique your interest, then you might want to skip over my tutorial on the game’s “executions” and voice commands.

When fighting an enemy in “Ryse” there will be a point where you see a small skull icon above his head, which signals the use of an execution attack. It works as a sort of one-hit K.O move. An execution attack is triggered by pressing the Right Bumper button on the Xbox Controller. To perform the execution correctly, you must press the buttons that are assigned.  When the execution is triggered the enemy will glow a certain color, and to activate it, you must press the button that matches the color on the screen. So executions can be fairly challenging to perform if you’re new to the Xbox console and have yet to memorize the buttons and their colors.

I only got a chance to use the voice command feature once during my game play. It told me to say “Fire Volley” to trigger the attack. I didn’t really feel like screaming “Fire Volley” in the middle of my game play because I was almost positive it would take several tries for it to actually happen, so I asked for one of the producers of the game to assist me. My hypothesis was correct. It took the man helping me three tries to get the voice command to work. Each time he said the voice command, he had to say it louder than before so the game could actually hear him.

So you can see why this feature could be a bit awkward and frustrating to use, especially if you have an audience. I think it should have the option for a button command instead, if that’s what the player prefers.

Along with a decent combat system, the game offers amazing graphics. “We built this cinematic combat system around this idea that we’re going to show emotion on the face of the characters,” Esteves told me. And this is clear as you play the game and witness the cinematic scenery and emotions shown on the enemies’ faces when you stab them through the gut and cut off their arms.

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