Jun 16, 2012

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Game of Thrones Review

Game of Thrones Review

Game of Thrones is a highly popular HBO television series based on the bestselling series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. Many fans of the novel series and the television show likely were excited to hear that there was a video game entry in the works for the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360. Most video game adaptations of novels or television shows fall prey to not living up to fans’ expectations. Does Cyanide Studios manage to surpass those goals or is this title a worse threat to Westeros than anyone imagined?

While Game of Thrones is based on the international best-selling novels and critically acclaimed HBO television show, the title offers a new storyline that adds to the series canon. The story focuses on the narrative of two new characters, Mors Westford and Alester Sarwyck. Each chapter alternates between the characters, as their stories start them off in different areas of Westeros until they meet together. Along the way, you will meet some new characters to the ASOIAF universe as well as key ones from the novels and television show. It is evident by some aspects of Game of Thrones that Cyanide Studios are fans of the series and wanted to offer a worthy entry.

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The story is by far the strongest part of the RPG. The game begins by giving the player control over Mors Westford, a Night’s Watch brother whose life consists of patrolling the Wall. You control Mors as he leads a group of new members on a hunt for a deserter. Once you beat the boss in the first chapter, the game shifts to Alester Sarwyck. His chapter is set in a location far from the wintry area of the Wall. Returning from a fifteen-year exile, Alester is a fire priest who learns that he needs to set up an audience with the Queen of King’s Landing. If you are a fan of the masterpiece series that George R. R. Martin crafted, you won’t be disappointed with what Cyanide Studios has done with the plot for this title. The twists and details presented throughout the story do truly live up to that of the novel’s as the company did receive Martin’s perspective and help with crafting it.

The combat system is not super impressive. For every thing that I liked about the gameplay, there was also something that I found to be subpar. Each character has their own set of skills and three combat styles. The variety among the styles and skills are nice, but it would have been great to be able to customize things just a bit more. When you choose a style to use, you will have to keep in mind the weapons that are best used. You unlock skills as you level up. You are able to unlock any available skills though you will need to have the proper weapon equipped to use it in battle. Getting to the battle part of combat, you are not able to completely pause the game when you are in a skirmish to assign a skill to use. Rather, you have the active-pause system which slows down combat as you set up the skills you want to use. I like the idea of having it slow down so you can plan your tactics. I did, however, wish that you could switch up your weapons as needed in battle. Extra damage can be dealt if you use the right weapon against the enemies, as each enemy wears different armor. The battles do require you to do some planning though once you get a few hours in, the combat will feel repetitive. And leveling up to learn new skills can be a bit tedious.

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The graphics and animation were a hit-or-miss deal for me. While the characters that were modeled after the stars for the HBO series look impressive, the rest have seen better days. Game of Thrones runs on the Unreal Engine 3, an engine that is able to pull off a lot better than what is presented here. The animations are lackluster, which isn’t so much as a bad thing as it looks that Cyanide Studios really put a good chuck of their attention and work towards the plot.

The game’s musical score is definitely one I enjoyed listening to. I felt that it really fit with the atmosphere of the game. As for the vocal tracks, most were decent and did capture the emotions that needed to be conveyed during dialogue. But there were times that it seemed like the voice actor was either trying too hard when conversing or didn’t put as much effort into the emotions.

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Given the five different endings you can receive, plus the noticeable reactions by NPCs depending on how you respond to questions, there is some form of replay value. It also helps that the game lasts for roughly 30 hours. True fans of the A Song of Ice and Fire universe will likely want to play through again to see the other endings. However, those who have a sort of casual interest in the series will likely play this game just once.

Cyanide Studios had a daunting task laid out for them when they created this game. In some aspects, their efforts soared beyond what I had expect. While in other areas of the game, it was obvious that their efforts were not enough to make this title stand out more. If you are a fan of George R. R. Martin’s works and prefer a well written story over graphics and combat, this title is worth a purchase. But if you don’t fall into either of those categories, I’d recommend renting before deciding to pay full price for it. Those who did pre-order the title received a lovely hardcover art book. Out of all the pre-order bonuses that I have received, this is one of my favorites. It might not justify the $60 price tag for the game if you have trouble getting into Game of Thrones, but it is a nice addition for those who collect the art books that are often included with games.

Game of Thrones
Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3 (Reviewed)
Genre: RPG
Release Date: May 15, 2012
Developer: Cyanide Studios
Publisher: ATLUS
ESRB Rating: M
MSRP: $59.99, $49.99 for PC


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