Review: Game of Thrones
GAME NAME: Game of Thrones
PLATFORM(S): PC, Xbox 360, PS3
RELEASE DATE(S): 14 June 2012
In the Game of Thrones, you either win, or you die. Or, you cheat death by saving before every fight. Or, you can just turn the difficulty down to "Squire."
I guess I now know why George R. R. Martin stuck to books and TV shows – a video game kind of takes an epic quote and makes it a bit…muddled. Much like the Game of Thrones game itself.
A video game based around the Game of Thrones novels, this game of the same name is an adventurous role-playing title developed by Cyanide. Whilst you'll obviously get more out of the game if you've read the novels (or even watched the television series), the plot of Game of Thrones runs parallel to the books; anyone will be able to follow along without any previous exposure. If you're reading the novels, a knowledge of at least the first book will go a long way.
In the game, you control two characters over two plot lines that eventually intertwine: Mors Westford, a 15 year veteran of the Night's Watch, who is tasked with investigating internal corruption at Castle Black; and Alester Sarwyck, a priest of R'hllor who returns to his family's estate to see it near collapse. Series regulars James Cosmo and Conleth Hill reprise their roles as Lord Commander Mormont and Lord Varys, respectively, as do a myriad of familiar locations in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.
Now, without and further adieu: the game looks horrible. Apparently in production for seven years, Cyanide must have finished off its character models in the first year or two. The worst modelling of the lot is of Mors' "dog," which barely resembles one. As you fight through Westeros, you'll quickly notice that most of your opponents are carbon copies of one another. That's if you're even paying attention during the combat – it's a real-time, turn-based affair that more often than not seems like you'll win or lose based on pure luck.
As far as achievements go, this game only gets more infuriating. There are usually two secret achievements in each of the game's chapters, and they're very specific. You can either ruin the game's plot by reading the achievement details beforehand, or you can miss them entirely by not following a very specific conversation tree. One of my favourite all-time RPGs, Fallout 3, allowed you to complete a main- or side-quest however you'd like, and rewarded you regardless. In Game of Thrones, you basically get two or more decisions and an achievement tied to only one resolution. It's annoying beyond belief and a perfect example of achievements (or trophies) done wrong.
It's really shame that on its surface, Game of Thrones looks nothing more than a zero-effort cash-in on a successful book and TV franchise. After becoming far too frustrated with the game's combat and achievement structure, I ended up putting the difficulty to "Squire" – thereby winning (most) of the battles required of me – and ignored achievements altogether. I quickly found myself utterly immersed in the game's storyline. Now, it's a bit slow-moving, but around chapter 6 or so, it really picks up, culminating in a very intricate and rewarding conclusion. If you can put up with some of the game's flawed mechanics, the story is definitely worth your trouble.
For patient fans of RPGs, or lovers of a great story and character development, Game of Thrones is definitely for you. For those who want immediate satisfaction, this game will infuriate you; steer well clear.