I really wanted this game to be good. George R. R. Martins land of Westeros is one of the most unique and amazing settings for a medium to take. Fans of the book seem to be living in privileged times, with the hit HBO series nailing down the atmosphere and overall feel. Unfortunately the Song of Ice and Fire series can never seem to make a worthwhile transition to the video game world. From Cyanide Studios previous attempt at a Game of Thrones game, the RTS mess, to their RPG attempt just now, it seems that fans of the books and show will have to wait a while longer for a proper adaptation.
Lets get the most glaring(literally) problem with this game out of the way right now. It looks pretty dang bad. I’m talking last generation of consoles bad, and it may be even worse than that. The character models of the main two themselves hold up pretty well, but the environments and some side characters are not to standard. You start of the game as old man Mors Westford, a black brother of the Nights Watch. Right away you will notice that his canine companion looks atrocious, almost laughably so. I can’t harp on how unfortunately bad this game looks, it’s something that just isn’t acceptable in 2012.
The combat is at least serviceable but it will quickly grow to be a repetitive slog. Using the shoulder buttons you can slow down time in the middle of a skirmish and select what skills you want to use and the order that you will use them. An idea that wears thin as you find yourself using the same 3 skills over and over. Yes you do have the ability to control other characters in your party, which does add a layer of depth and strategy that can be rewarding, but it just isn’t enough.
I don’t want to get into the story here as that is the best part of the game. I can honestly say that the two main characters you play as come of as likeable and, if you can push through the graphics and repetitive combat, the story can be engrossing. The ending is particularly good in my opinion and that alone is almost worth getting through rest of the game to see. Almost. The character creation was one of my favorite parts, utilizing an old school DnD trick of having to balance out pros and cons. When picking characteristics of yourself you start of with a balance of zero and each good and bad characteristic is assigned a number value. The more game altering it is, the more points it is worth. If you want to pick a top attribute, which may add damage for your whole group or increase your chance to land critical hits, it will tip the balance of your scale and then you must pick some cons that equal you back to zero. This adds real depth to the characters, making you like them even more. My Mors ended up being a good leader, but he was unfortunately asthmatic and afraid of the sight of blood to balance it out.
The environment the game is set in leads to a huge chunk of why the story is so fun. This game has the privilege of being set in an already established and well loved universe. The fanboy in me wanted to squeal every time something from the book series popped up. Hardcore fans will be able to forgive the game its faults just so they can play as a brother of the Watch or to walk the halls of Kings Landing as a red priest. This is enhanced by the addition of a couple of actors from the show lending their likenesses and voices to the game. Conleth Hill as the spider, Lord Varys, particularly seemed to enjoy himself and put everything into it.
That’s what it really comes down to with the Game of Thrones RPG. Are you willing to overlook(again, literally) the terrible graphics and shoddy combat to get to a well done story set in the land of Westeros? I guarantee if you are a fan of the series that your hurt will flutter when you start up the game and are greeted with that familiar opening song from HBO followed by Varys himself narrating as you float over a map of Westeros. It’s just too bad that the game itself couldn’t follow the bar that the story and characters set.