Nothing about Ryse: Son of Rome’s gameplay is any way next-gen. While I am certainly one of the games’ bigger fans (check out my review here), I will happily admit that, while certainly entertaining, from a gameplay perspective, Crytek’s historical brawler does absolutely nothing new.
The thing is, up until this point, what has? I would make the argument that from a purely gameplay perspective, that nothing released thus far on PS4 or Xbox One has pushed the envelope in any meaningful way, pushed the boundaries of what can be achieved within the medium or delivered anything that I would consider truly ‘next-gen’.
So, what does that leave then? Well, pretty graphics I suppose. With nothing revelatory arriving on the design front, it has been left to the flashy new visuals of the PS4 and Xbox One to justify the large amount of money I have splurged on this new piece of kit, and despite a few lookers amidst the launch window releases, the only game to blow me away, to truly knock my socks off, is Ryse: Son of Rome.
Yes, Battlefield is pretty, Killzone: Shadow Fall looks great and NBA 2K14 is a considerable step up from its current-gen counterpart, but none of these have come close to matching the jaw dropping beauty of Ryse. None. There are games on the horizon that look equally fantastic from a technical and artistic standpoint, but of what is available now, Ryse, to me at least, is visually head and shoulders above the competition.
I did briefly consider that personal taste and a genuine soft spot for a game that I feel is much better than many critics would have you believe, may have blinded me to the facts, but lo and behold, out of nowhere, Ryse went and passed the most brutal and unforgiving of tests – it passed the wife test.
You see, despite playing her fair share of video games, visuals mean somewhere between Jack and shit to my wife (at least on a technical level). Every so often I’ll point something out that I feel is particularly impressive from a purely visual perspective, and almost always, I am greeted with the same old shrug of the shoulders. The thing is, despite appreciating the fact that video games are very different beasts to movies, the fact remains, visual effects in film are (for the most part) far superior. Again, she appreciates and understands why this is, but it still doesn’t change the fact that, for her at least, very little in the video game industry genuinely amazes her.
Then came Ryse. For the first time in our 11 year relationship, it was she that felt the need to point out the beauty on screen, of the technical and artistic achievement in putting those visuals on display, “honestly, I thought you were watching a move”. It’s hardly gushing praise, but from my wife, it’s as good as you’re likely to get. Spurned on from this single moment of visual appreciation, I have endeavoured to point out other games that I feel have impressed since the release of Xbox One and PS4……unsurprisingly, Bethan has reverted back to shrugs.
So, it’s not just me, the wife thinks it looks great too. Anyway, the point is, while the gameplay might be stuck in the past, visually, Ryse: Son of Rome is the only game to really show off what next-gen consoles can do. I’m sure that will change in time, but for now, Ryse stands, for better and for worse, as the most next-gen, next-gen video game.
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