Some game developers consider their games as graphics showcases and implement the latest technologies to show of the capabilities of existing hardware. Others prefer to focus on gameplay and stories. Ryse – Son of Rome showed the power of the next-generation of consoles in 2013 and, even now, it is still an impressive game.

In Ryse – Son of Rome, you take on the role of Marius Titus, a young Roman soldier who witnesses his entire family being killed by Barbarian bandits. After this horrific event, Marius decides to travel with the Roman army to take revenge on the clans who murdered his closest relatives.

Ryse – Son of Rome is without any doubt one of the better looking games of this console generation. From the impressive stone buildings, temples and statues in Ancient Rome to the widespread forests in Britannia, the game engine is pushing the current generation of consoles and existing hardware to its limits. It is definitely a showcase piece for enthousiasts, not a story driven game.

Back to basics

The foundation of a game is the gameplay, the latest technologies serve as a means of support to enable more profound gameplay mechanics. Without gameplay, a visual work of art is not considered as a proper game . Ryse – Son of Rome and other titles focus too much on delivering the best technological and graphical fidelity and forget the essence of a game, the gameplay

Graphics and gameplay interact in a subtle manner. Seen from a marketing perspective, the link between both entities is even more complex. Beautiful graphics catch the attention of gamers and lead to sales, but interesting gameplay and engaging stories keeps players engaged for a longer period of time, even after finishing the story.

Ryse – Son of Rome is no doubt a gorgeous looking game and a technological and graphical showcase, but gameplay wise, it is a completely different story.

Repetitive gameplay

In Ryse – Son of Rome, you often take on larger groups of enemies in fearsome battles. The combat is entertaining at first, but becomes rather repetitive in the second half of the game. You can counter enemies and trigger slow motion executions, but from the first encounter to the last, nothing changes.

After landing four or five hits on an enemy, you start a quicktime event by pressing the right button on your controller. You brutally decapitated enemies and bones are broken during the gruesome executions. Once you have seen all the different types of finishing moves, even this aspect of the simplistic combat becomes boring.

Modern technologies enrich gameplay

Ryse – Son of Rome is a rather linear experience and players often feel limited in their choices and actions. Assassin’s Creed – Odyssey and Tom Clancy’s The Division, on the other hand, are open world games and feel more like a living and breathing world were you could interact with most of the environment and population.

Both the Assassin’s Creed series and Tom Clancy’s The Division use modern technologies and high quality graphics to enrich the gameplay experience. You patiently study and explore the detailed and impressive environment as you search for alternative ways to complete your tasks and objectives without getting killed. As a result, the gameplay lets the graphics draw you further into the game world.

This is something Ryse – Son of Rome is not able to do, or at least not on the same scale. Both Assassin’s Creed – Odyssey and Tom Clancy’s The Division are technological and graphical showcases that embraces the capabilities of the existing hardware, but use these tools to improve the gameplay experience.

Finding the right balance

The Legend of Zelda – Breath of the Wild is a completely different story. The graphics look good, but not as impressive as other open world games. The developers focus on delivering fluent gameplay and use an eye-catching picturesque art style to attract potential players.

The weak graphics in the Legend of Zelda – Breath of the Wild certainly do not enhance the gameplay experience, but they do not detract from it either. During the development process, the gameplay and graphics are considered as two different entities. Developers need to find the right balance between the visual elements and gameplay in order to create a bestseller.

Benchmarking tool

Ryse – Son of Rome remains a gorgeous looking technological and graphical showcase, but was poorly received by the press and general public due to the repetitive gameplay. Most gamers will never play this game a second time after completing the story, but will remember Ryse – Son of Rome as a benchmarking tool to test the performance of their latest hardware, not as a deep and interesting game.

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Disclaimer. This post contains copyrighted images from Ryse – Son of Rome, a video game developed by Crytek and published by Microsoft Studios. The fair use of copyrighted works for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting or research is not considered as an infringement of copyright.

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