Parent Talk: The ESRB rates Game of Thrones M for mature because of blood and gore, intense violence, sexual content, and strong language. If you’ve read the novels, or watched the HBO show, you know that this is as adult-themed as you can get. Do not let children play this.
Plays Like: This is a little hard to explain. I often thought of GoT as something like Kingdoms of Amalur, albeit much smaller, and with vastly different combat. Hopefully by reading on, you’ll understand better the titles Game of Thrones resembles.
Review Basis: Atlus was very cool to send us a copy of the Xbox 360 game. I completed the campaign, took on different side-quests and all-around tried everything the game offers.
Anyone who’s read COE at length knows that I’m a huge fan of George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series. His novels are perhaps my favorite fantasy literature, and the HBO series is also outstanding. I was cautiously optimistic when Atlus announced it was publishing this game adaptation. Why? Well, licensed properties often don’t translate well to games, of course. I want to see this is an exception, but I can’t. A superb story and great moral choices can’t cover restrictive gameplay, dated visuals and audio bugs.
The story. Cyanide knew this was the case, which is why it’s the game’s focal point. Instead of retelling the novels, GoT tells the story of Alester Sarwyck and Mors Westford. Alester returns to Riverspring to reclaim his rightful spot as ruler after this Lord father passes away, but his conniving illegitimate brother Valaar doesn’t let him have it easily. Meanwhile, way up north on the Wall, Mors receives a letter from the Hand of the King, ordering him to protect a mysterious woman. Obeying, he travels south to keep her safe.
These characters are fleshed out throughout, and key choices determine how other characters react to you. Alliances can be formed or destroyed, and there are five possible endings depending on how you play. Fans will enjoy all the minor references to events and characters, but newcomers can also take a lot away from the well-developed storyline.
+ Unusual consequences. There’s no right or wrong, or points allocated for being good or bad. The story changes based on your actions.
+ Voice acting. It’s done well, and even includes guest appearances from the TV series. While the dialogue can be grating, the actors did a good job with the source material.
+/- Overwhelming combat. Combat is real-time, and players bring up a special radial dial. But you must choose wisely and quickly, or suffer the consequences.
– Monotonous battle. Most skirmishes play the same, as you simply interrupt attacks to pause the action and retaliate until enemies are dead. Even the toughest foe can be handled with this strategy. It makes combat extremely dull after a short period of time.
– Limited exploration. You can explore where you quick-travel to, but you’re not allowed to locate new areas on your own a la Skyrim, making Westeros feel tiny and cramped.
– Westeros’s look doesn’t do it justice. The books and TV show emphasize vast environments, and hugely-populated cities. Here towns are deserted, and rough textures prevent Game of Thrones from reaching its potential.
– Audio glitches. Looping music, interrupted sound effects, and more problems abound.
Mors’ dog looks like he belongs in a PS2 game. His animations are at times so stiff that I wasn’t sure if he was walking or hovering over the land.
As a self-proclaimed Song of Ice and Fire fanboy, it’s painful to say the videogame disappoints. The 30-hour campaign may only be finished by die-hard fans looking to experience the exciting storyline. The repetitive gameplay, often-complex combat, along with the lack of exploration make this an RPG that doesn’t match the standard of its mighty name. The package feels like a generic RPG instead of one in development for over seven years with a high budget. It’s a shame.
Final Score: 5/10