It should be noted that you don’t need to follow the television series or have read the books to follow the Game of Thrones RPG. Obviously it helps, but those unfamiliar with the series won’t feel out of place, unlike the constant bugs and muddy textures that plague the majority of the game. Game of Thrones had a seven-year development cycle, but you really, really wouldn’t assume that from state of it; it just feels very rushed in order to coincide with the success of the recent TV series.
It is a 30-hour-long RPG, with, in all fairness, a moment or two where it excels if you play long enough. However, for most people, you’ll more likely stop after the 15th loading screen appears because after it, the game just returns to the same dry and mediocre story.
I found myself bored whilst playing, and yes, it’s because of the disappointment the team has delivered in terms of a story, something the books and TV show really shine with, but also because Game of Thrones looks horribly dated. Character models look awful and animations can range from stiff to ridiculous, whilst in most parts models look extremely similar. In some scenes, you’ll witness three of four clones of the exact same model doing something exactly the same. If they were part of a huge background crowd then you could forgive the design, but when it’s a small cut scene, with the clones front and centre, it’s really lazy.
I don’t know if it was just the review copy I received (it probably isn’t), but the music suddenly cuts out at times and simply loops back to the beginning of a song instead of flowing together, whilst later, footsteps randomly stopped then started again mid-walk. These aren’t signs of a seven-year development cycle.
Combat, on the other hand, is surprisingly robust, with a vast amount of options to build your character up, but you’ll ultimately learn to rely on seemingly random tactics to win. As you start a battle, you can slow down the action, with enemies still slowly moving keeping the intensity of the moment alive and allowing you to strategically plan your attack. By switching between characters and setting them to use a specific set of attacks, you can plan your attack through the players, before exiting the slow-down mode whilst you wait for your energy to recharge.
It is actually pretty well done considering the rest of the game, until you realize that you’re only using about three or four attacks over and over again. While we’re on combat, there are times you’ll cue a violent cinematic kill (usually when you defeat the last of a group of enemies), but if you never switch weapons, you’ll always see the one animation, which gets very tedious; other games offer at least a few different animations, regardless of whether you switch weapons (Deus Ex: Human Revolution showed some brilliant takedown animations).
The game had potential, even with below-par graphics if they fixed the bugs and threw in a really strong and smartly delivered story; that would have carried the game through. But, as it is, when something ‘good’ happens, something even worse happens to ruin it all over again, even if (without spoiling it for those that do play through the game) it has some neat and unexpected twists.
Whilst Game of Thrones lacks the polish and finesse of its book and TV series, the juicy portions and twists are actually genuinely good. It’s a shame that the other 97% of the game is a buggy, ugly, and utterly poorly delivered mess.
Game of Thrones is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Content, Strong Language. This game can also be found on: PC and Xbox 360.