Honestly, Ryse: Son of Rome is one of the best looking games I've ever played. The environments are beautiful, varied, and colorful; the animations are extremely smooth and holds together nicely during action packed sequences with hundreds of mpc's on screen. Also, the gameplay graphics are just as beautiful as they are during cutscenes. Ryse is a technical marvel and really shows what the Xbox One is capable of. But, there are still minor glitches that keep it from perfection but not enough to hinder the experience. It's too bad though that the rest of the game isn't nearly as good as it looks.
Ryse follows the story of Marius Titus, a Roman soldier on the path of revenge. To be blunt, the story isn't interesting. The game doesn't enter any new territory and uses cliches and very predictable twists. I will say that the story does get a little interesting towards the end of the game with a twist I didn't see coming. But, it takes far too long for the story to be interesting. The story also tries to include Roman mythology with different Roman Gods, but it simply makes it less interesting. Other than the occasional moment or two, the mythology doesn't add to the story at all. Not to anyone's surprise, the ending is also lame and boring. Fortunately, there was still some good moments particularly with Emperor Nero's sons. Ultimately, the story is very forgetful despite the game's heavy focus on it.
Like the game's story, there is nothing original. It is a generic hack and slash game. It's quite fun at first especially when you first cut off an enemy's arm or slash their throat. They is also a decent variety of enemies to challenge you with different sets of moves. Unfortunately after the first two missions, you've experienced all there is for the rest of the game. It's simply repetitive. It gets old very quickly. There is still the occasional moments of fun, but they are over shadowed by the long tedium of the rest of the game. The game attempts to offer variety by putting you in charge of different soldiers with the option of voice commands. These moments are interesting and the voice commands work very well, but these moments are far too easy. Actually, the whole game is too easy. The gameplay had a lot of potential, but ultimately it's simply not fun most of the time.
Assassin's Creed has always been one of my favorite video game series for nothing else if not the thrill of going back in time. I've always loved the historical time periods the series have let us run around in. With Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag I was a little hesitant. The golden age of pirates is an interesting and exciting direction, but I was afraid that the focus would be on pirates instead of assassins and templars. I was expecting the game to flop. I put the lowest expectation on this game of the whole series. I'm so glad that I was wrong. Although I was completely wrong about the pirate focus, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is one of the most enjoyable games I've played in a long time.
The story of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is unlike any Assassin's Creed story. For starters, it has the most unique protagonist in the series, Edward Kenway. Edward is a pirate, and the game doesn't take very long to establish this. Unlike its predecessor, ACIV throws you right into the action. Right from the opening scene, Edward has been a pirate for almost two years. Almost immediately, Edward is thrusted into the eternal struggle of the Assassins and Templars. He may have been forced into the conflict, but he does not become an assassin. He is a pirate and a selfish one at that. He finds Assassin's Creed unconvincing, and he greatly misinterprets the creed of "Nothing is true; everything is permitted." All this being said, for most of the game the story doesn't feel like Assassin's Creed. That's because the focus is around the golden age of pirates. Through this incredible adventure, you meet the infamous Blackbeard, Charles Vain, Benjamin Hornigold, and James Kidd. These historical figures are unique and fascinating characters. The downside of the story is the lack of a proper set up. To be more specific, the plot itself has a great set up, but the game feels like it's lacking a real introduction to the characters. Almost very pirate you meet, Edward has already known them for two years. Apparently, Edward Thatch (Blackbeard) and Ben Hornigold both sailed with Edward prior to their career as pirates. The story briefly mentions this, and I'm interested to know more. The major downside is that we missed the opportunity to grow and care for these characters as much as we could have. This was my favorite part of ACIII's story; sure it had a slow start, but that slow start made the emotional moments have that much more of an impact. What the story excels at is the character development of Edward. Edward truly is the focus of the game who grows to realize the errors of his life. It takes quite sometime for that realization, but that makes Edward's story have so much impact. This growth in Edward is unmatched by any other character in the series making him arguably the best character in the series. His story is what makes it a great Assassin's Creed story. Watching Edward learn the creed through experience is like relearning the creed yourself. It's almost like playing ACI for the first time again. Lastly, the conclusion of the game is pretty satisfying. It's not an epic or action packed ending, but it's a good conclusion nonetheless. For the first time in the series, we leave Desmond Miles for present day story. The story takes place after the events of ACIII. In this story you play, well, yourself. Your an employee at Abstergo Entertainment tasked with researching the life of Edward Kenway. Although there is nothing really breathtaking about the present day story, it's quite interesting nonetheless and makes you wander where the series is going next.
There is so much to do and all of it is so wonderful! Like the story, the gameplay also feels more like a pirate game than an AC game. You obtain your own ship, the Jackdaw, and upgrade it with the money and resources you find in the massive West Indies. This world is huge! With over 50 unique locations, three major cities, and numerous vessels and forts to battle along the way. The naval combat from ACIII returns and is better than ever. It takes the innovative addition to ACIII and makes it so much more fun with the numerous upgrades, weapons, enemies, and the new boarding system. It is so satisfying to cripple a ship, board it, and fight the crew. It is so easy to get sidetracked on the way to a main mission. Not enough can be said about the new additions to the gameplay. ACIV's assassinations draw back from the original AC. Now, assassinations are more about freedom to strike from the angle of your choosing rather than the specific guidelines necessary to accomplish it. An interesting direction the missions take is that for most stealth missions, you have the choice to charge straight in and kill every guard. But, that approach will easily get you killed. One of the downsides to the game is the combat seems to have taken a hit. It's hard to explain but you simply don't feel like a BA assassin who can cut through any amount of guards. The exception is boarding. Combat is very fun and rewarding during boarding. Many missions take place both on land and sea which takes advantage of the integrated world. What doesn't work for the game's benefit are the tailing missions. There is simply so many of them, and the game adds nothing new to the old tailing formula. It's so noticeable because everything else is so new and so fresh. Either tailing missions should be done for the series, or they need to be innovated and improved. But, everything else the game does very well.
ACIV is absolutely beautiful! The game's world is the most beautiful, vibrant, colorful, and vibrant world in the series. Even on current-gen, the visuals outshine all of its predecessors. I could go on, but it's easier to say that everything looks amazing! The visuals are still not without its flaws. The game's graphics are still hindered by the series's usual glitches like MPCs and faraway buildings appearing in front of you. But, these glitches are far less frequent and less annoying than ACIII's glitches.
Multiplayer is back, and it's not much different than before. The classic game modes return with Wanted, Assassination, Team Deathmatch, Man Hunt, Artifact Assault, and the return of Wolf Pack. All these game modes are as fun as ever, but the game doesn't really offer anything new to enhance the experience. It's a great deal of fun, and it's yet another way to invest dozens of more hours into an already huge game.
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is great breathe of fresh air into the series and is arguably the best. Although the game often feels more like a pirate game than an Assassin's Creed game, the game is still no less enjoyable. The enthralling story of Edward Kenway is the most unique and interesting in the series. Annual releases no longer concern me if they're able to make a game so superb in so many ways. I'm already looking forward to the series has in store for us next.
What do you do when making a sequel, or in this case a prequel, to a series of games that have made so many great achievements? Do redo everything to have the game be a new and exciting addition, or do change almost nothing in order to be faithful to past installments and deliver a similar experience? If done right, both directions could lead to a great game. If done wrong, it could lead to a disappointing game. In the case of Batman: Arkham Origins, it had to follow up the two amazing games of Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. Which direction did it take? The second one. Did it do it right? No. Is it still a good game? Yes. Arkham Origins does everything the previous games did better than ever, but it uses them as a crutch rather than a spring board thrusting the series forward.
Story - 9.0: The story is Batman: Arkham Origins's greatest achievement. It arguably boasts the best story in the trilogy. The game is a prequel to the previous Arkham games and takes place about two years into Batman's career as the Dark Knight. I'll try to avoid spoilers as much as possible. The story is focused around Batman's first encounter with the Joker and is centered around the very nature of their "rivalry." The rest of the Joker's role is best left for you to discover on your own. Although the Joker takes the center stage, there are plenty of other great villians that need your attention. Crime lord Black Mask has put a hit on Batman for $50,000. There are a lot of people who want that money including corrupt Gotham Policeman. The real threat though is that eight assassins are after that bounty including Deathstroke and Bane. All eight of them are willing to go to extremes including attacking civilians to get that money. Here is sort of a SPOILER ALERT: Bane has a much larger role than I anticipated which I appreciated. I always wanted more of him in the previous games. Deathstroke has a smaller role than I had hoped. He's a very interesting and BA villain. Although, it looks like there will be more of him in upcoming DLC. End of SPOILER ALERT. The story also centers around the morality and potential consequences of Batman's actions. This is reflected well in the much more fleshed out relationship between Bruce and Alfred, and the formation of the trust between Gordon and Batman. The acting is also worth noting. Both the iconic voices of Batman and the Joker of the previous games were replaced for the third installment. Honestly, the new actors do a great job. The actor replacing Mark Hamill as the Joker did a fantastic job. He sounds almost the same except a little younger which is good since it's a prequel. The actor for Batman did a good job. I'm not really convinced he did a worse or a better job than the previous actor. He did a good performance in his own right. The story is the highlight of the game. So from here, it's all down hill.
Batman: ArkhamOrigins's gameplay does almost everything very well: enemies are varied, combat is smooth, and stealth is tactical. But despite how great everything is, nothing is new. Every gameplay feature found in Arkham City is very evident. Arkham Origins only adds a couple of new gadgets and new enemies, most notably the martial artist, to the combat. Nothing is new here. Origins does have some great boss fights however particularly with Deathstroke and Bane. Most of the bosses do have you repeating the same moves, but that doesn't make them less enjoyable. The fight with Deathstroke is my personal favorite. Although you spend most of the time countering, they have to be so well timed and the animations during make it an intense martial arts battle. Now for Origins, its boss fights, even though they're good, are still negatives towards the gameplay. Why? Because the previous two games had absolutely phenomenal boss fights that were extremely varied, intense, and often required great tactical thought. Origins's boss fights pale in comparison. One of the most notable changes for Origins is its larger city. The game offers large amounts of side missions to perform that can take up a great deal of your time. The downside, a large chunk of the city is directly from Arkham City but far less interesting. They quite literally copied and pasted the city from the previous game and added another section of Gotham. The other large addition to the game is the new detective mode. Using his Batman's new gadgets, you can reconstruct the crime. By "you reconstruct," I actually mean Batman reconstructs. You're involvement in the detective process is very minimal; it's more like you're watching it happen rather than using any deductive skills. The gameplay is good in its own right, but its lack of any good new innovative feature take away from the experience.
: To be blunt, the visuals aren't impressive. The graphics are stunning during cutscenes but look ordinary during gameplay. The Bat suit particularly looks bland during gameplay. There is nothing remarkable about the visuals. The real negative is the city itself. What made Arkham City so great was the atmospheric city that it took place in. It gave you a desire to explore the city and learn more about it. The city in Arkham Origins may be bigger, but it is so lifeless! It may be night on Christmas Eve during a snow storm, but the city looks like no one lives there. It's so bland and uninteresting. As said before, half the city is the exact city from Arkham City. First off, that's just lazy developing. Second, the game ruins the great Arkham City by making its setting lifeless and uninteresting.
: The most bold and innovative addition to the Arkham trilogy is multiplayer. The game pits Joker's gang versus Bane's gang with Batman and Robing silently taking down both teams. It's a very interesting and unique idea. It's quite the challenge to fire at one team and keep your eyes out for the dynamic duo. Like wise, it's a challenge to apply the skills from the single player to actual people online. What's the problem? It's sloppy, unfinished, and straight up frustrating. First, the controls for the gang members is awful. It functions very much like Gears of War or Mass Effect but makes stupid controls for it. Meaning, you press and hold A to sprint, but instead of smoothly running into cover, you have to confusingly press B to move in and out of cover. It sounds minor, but when your on the move during a fire fight with Batman and Robin taking people out, it's important to have smooth controls. Second, the shooting is abysmal. Even when you're in cover and aiming down the sites, the accuracy is still miserable. Third, playing as Batman and Robin doesn't feel nearly as smooth or as empowering as it does in single player. Obviously you can't have all the abilities from single player; that would give them an unfair advantage. But it's so significantly worse than single player. Sure, it's oddly satisfying to take another player down. But, it's very frustrating when a takedown doesn't work because of lag or somehow they're still shooting you when your bashing their face in. It was a interesting and unique idea that clearly needs more work down on it. It could be something truly great. But how it is right now, it's simply sloppy.
: Batman: Arkham Origins is a good game. The excellent gameplay that we've come to love from the previous games is as good as ever. But, its lack of good innovative additions to the game, its bland and lifeless city, and its sloppy unfinished multiplayer make this game disappointing. I still very much enjoy this game and I think it's definitely worth playing, but it's not worth paying $60 for it.