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When George R. R. Martin started writing the novels for “A Song of Ice and Fire” he started something truly magical. I have read every book, and watched the show on HBO (a very good rendition even if they do take a few liberties with the source material) – so who better on staff here to review a game based on the books? For a game that in the press materials says “we feel it’s connection to the story will be its biggest draw”, you would think that the person who could be the president of the George R. R. Martin Fan Club would have the best time with it – right? And hell, I review RPGs all the time, so this should be a slam dunk, yeah? Well, not so much…
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The world that is presented in George R. R. Martin’s books is picturesque – beautiful and defined; the world shown in Game of Thrones the game on the other hand, is a blocky and ugly place. The graphics look like they had been pulled from a PlayStation One or base XBOX game – at best they look like they should be on a launch title for the 360 or PS3 – not a title at the tail end of this development cycle. When talking about character models, “ugly” is just the tip of the mountain of adjectives you can use. The mouths don’t match up with the dialogue, and the faces are completely horrendous. Their animations are sloppy and tired – the only thing that is “right” is that the armor and clothing the different people wear matches pretty much exactly with what you would expect from reading the books.
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Thankfully the dialogue and story in the video game adaptation of Game of Thrones is it’s biggest draw. Oh you won’t be controlling characters like Jon Snow or Eddard Stark – you could conceivably change the story if that was the case; rather you control two minor characters that have stories that run parallel to the events in the book “Game of Thrones”. You will run into characters from the book, and there are plenty of things thrown in that fans will recognize and pick up on, but the problem will be getting the people who will get the most out of it to stick around until the end. The game comes in at around 30 hours to complete, and it could very easily get tiring to look at the horrid graphics while waiting for the story to come to a head. In the beginning, the story definitely takes its time to get running, something that will make a lot of players just shut it off and either shelve or sell the game, which is a shame because even though Mr. Martin only oversaw the script, you can see that the authors knew how to write in his style.
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Apart from the graphics, the combat is the other really abysmal part of the Game of Thrones game. You set up a queue of actions much like you would in Dragon Age, but here it is much, much less exciting. For starters you have a lot less action points than you need to ever set up a good combo. You get interesting skills that will take up almost all of your action points, making you wait while the enemies get free shots on you as your bar refills. It becomes infinitely easier to just spam the basic attack then, because it does just as much damage as the other skills, and you can do it over and over. While the game can be very deep, giving you multiple choices on how each of the game’s two playable characters develop themselves, the depth is lost when paired up with the poor combat mechanics.
The Bottom Line: While the story is compelling and engrossing once you get into it, the lackluster combat and dated graphics are not enough to push this version of the Game of Thrones to anything above average – even the most fervent fans of the series should wait for it to drop into the bargain bin before jumping on board.
You can pick up a copy of the Game of Thrones from Amazon (the Art Book Bundle no less) for the PS3 or XBOX 360 for $59.99