Ryse: Son of Rome review

Is it thumbs up or thumbs down for Xbox One's gladiatorial brawler?

It’s no coincidence that Xbox One launch title Ryse: Son of Rome references movies much more than games during its short but reasonably sweet running time. Saving Private Ryan, Predator, 300, Southern Comfort and, inevitably, Gladiator are all liberally ‘borrowed from’ throughout.

The thing is, Ryse… is more of an interactive film than a game. It’s far more interested in showing off the gorgeous graphics of the varied locations it dispatches your troubled hero to than it is in doing anything sophisticated with its hack 'n' slash mechanics. We finished the game while mostly mashing just two buttons, basically. However, provided you treat Ryse… as what it is rather than the God of War emulator that you may have wanted it to be, it’s actually got plenty to offer.

The dialogue, acting and story are unexpectedly compelling, the blood-drenched, amputation-filled combat has a hypnotic, satisfying rhythm to it when you’re doing it right, and the graphical and audio quality is so consistently sensational that you can’t resist playing on to witness the next AV treat.

Given its ‘tech demo’ presentation levels it’s probably true that the Xbox One needs Ryse… more than you do. But while the game's appeal may ultimately be pretty shallow, it’s still fun while it lasts.

Ryse: Son of Rome, Microsoft Studios/Crytek, Xbox One, £50 Approx