The PC version of Ryse: Son of Rome is a guilty pleasure that is a joy to look at. It comes with the same limitations as the original Xbox One version, but manages to outshine it due to some extra polish and the inclusion of DLC you previously had to pay extra for.
When Crytek announced they would be coming out with a PC version of Ryse: Son of Rome, I was surprised. This was one of the Xbox One showcase titles at launch, and I wasn’t expecting it to make the leap to PC this soon – if at all. The move is even more surprising because Ryse is a console game at heart in the sense that similar games (such as Sony’s God of War series) rarely find their way to PCs. Still, the surprise was a pleasant one. The Xbox One has been plagued by its unavailability in many territories, and as such hasn’t found its way into our review team. What’s more is that Ryse is still the embodiment of next gen graphics and more than welcome on the PC platform.
This particular version of Ryse: Son of Rome has two main draws – the inclusion of extra content previously available as DLC being one of them. The main draw, however, is the ability to support 4K resolutions on setups that support it. For those unfamiliar with 4K, the easiest explanation is that you get four times the number of pixels on screen when compared to a 1080p resolution. Think about that for a while, and then remember that ‘1080p’ is the mark that console developers strive for when developing for Xbox One and PS4. Those are impressive numbers, but they come at a price. The recommended system specs ask for a recent and powerful graphics card, and we found that upgrading to 16gb of RAM was also a big help (we used Kingston’s HyperX Fury memory for an extra performance boost). The biggest bottleneck for most gamers, however, will be their screen. Playing at a 4K resolutions requires a screen that can support this, and only Ultra HD televisions and a handful of monitors are currently capable of doing the job.
Having said all that – playing Ryse was a silky smooth and gorgeous experience for us at 1080p and it does indeed allow you to scale up to 4K if your hardware supports it. Since we don’t yet test with the latest Nvidia or AMD chips the graphics card eventually ended up becoming a bottleneck, but even at lower framerates the game is still relatively stutter-free at 4K resolutions – a milestone achievement by Crytek’s development team. Ryse’s excellent presentation isn’t just limited to high resolutions and impressive visuals though – the quality of the animation also deserves a mention. This becomes apparent during the up-close scenes between characters most of all, as the motion capturing here is incredibly lifelike even in characters that are not central to the storyline.
The original Xbox One release was often criticized for being too linear and repetitive, and despite an extra layer of polish this issue is still there in the PC version. Much like a Hollywood action movie that you enjoy even though you know it’s far from being Oscar material, Ryse is missing the level of depth you would expect from a true classic. About 90 per cent of the game is combat, and aside from a rudimentary upgrade system it never gets to be very intricate. The camera work can also be problematic, as Ryse’s large and beautifully animated characters have a tendency to take up more of the screen than you’d like.
Still, despite its shortcomings we’re more than happy that Ryse came to the PC platform. Its campaign is short (with 4 to 5 hours of gameplay) but entertains for the full duration of the game. This is largely due to the amazing production values and gratuitous displays of violence, which makes you forgive the linear and limited nature of the gameplay while it lasts. Our definition of a guilty pleasure.
CPU: Intel 3770K
Video: Asus GTX 660 Ti
Installed on: Kingston HyperX SSD drive
RAM: 16 GB DDR 3, Kingston HyperX Fury series