by Patrick Feng
With the official launching of a new generation of consoles such as Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s Playstation 4 as well as improving processor chips and video cards in computers, the ability to create worlds with a high level of unprecedented graphical detail in videogames has opened up greater creative possibilities. With such enhanced graphical technologies such as the CRYENGINE, developer Crytek Studio was able to recreate the world of Ancient Rome in the Xbox One exclusive title, Ryse: Son of Rome. The game is a cinematic representation of the Roman Empire in incredible detail that characterizes the latest graphical technology of the next console generation. The brutality and chaos of close-quarters combat in Roman warfare is brought to life in gory detail.
Rich Storyline Steeped in Historical Events
Ryse: Son of Rome follows the life story of Marius Titus, a fictional Roman general, starting from his early childhood through his rise through the ranks of the Roman army to the upper echelons of military command. As a legionnaire in his early days in the II Legion in Alexandria, Egypt, Marius returned to Rome to visit his family; his father was a prominent senator and former legionnaire, but drew the ire of Emperor Nero for his persistent calls for reforms. Marius’s visit to the Roman capital is interrupted by a barbarian raid on the city of Rome, which resulted in the deaths of his parents and younger sister. Commander Vitallion, a friend of Marius’s father and commander of the XIV Legion in Britannia, promised Marius his help in seeking vengeance for Marius’s family by having Marius transferred to Britannia. While fighting the Iceni tribe led by the warrior queen Boudicca and her father King Oswald, Marius later realized that Nero and his sons, Basilius and Commodus, were behind the elaborate conspiracy.
Given the nature of warfare in the Roman world, close-quarters, hand-to-hand combat with the gladius and the rectangular scutum shield supplemented by the Roman Pilum are the primary weapons that players use throughout the game. They were the essential weapons of the Roman legion throughout the heyday of Roman military dominance. In some portions of the game, players would utilize these weapons in the types of close order formations and tactics of legion cohorts. Additionally, players experience Roman gladiatorial games first hand in the Colosseum in both the single-player campaign as well as in the game’s multiplayer mode. As confirmed by the developer’s consultant on blacksmithing and armor and weapons, the Roman armor featured in Ryse is based on armor from the imperial Roman period from around AD 50 to about AD 100.
Despite the attention paid to the recreation of Rome’s landmarks such as the Colosseum and Nero’s palace as well as the design of weapons and armor, the game’s story is very loose in historical context. Although the player does take part in the suppression of Boudicca’s rebellion in Britannia, the game modifies historical events by adding in plot twists to fit the overall storyline such as Nero’s instigation of the Celtic raid that killed Marius’s family. Although historical figures are featured in this game, the game is by no means a reflection of actual events. The story plays more like a Roman mythical, what-if, epic with a mix of graphic novel-esque styles, which satiates the action-adventure gamers than it does historical gaming enthusiasts. If you want to try your hand in gladiatorial fights, then Ryse: Son of Rome will not disappoint.