Review: Game of Thrones (Xbox 360 version tested)
It’s another fantasy RPG dear readers! I’ve gone on and on at great length about being introduced to these and converted into liking them by my brother-in law. Now we have another one – a videogame based on the fantastic TV series Game of Thrones.
What a show it is, too. Based on the novels by George R.R. Martin, it is perhaps the best adaptation of a book since Peter Jackson amazed us with Lord of the Rings. There’s intrigue, drama, warfare, sex, splendour, scenery… It’s probably the most satisfying and addictive TV show there is right now. As I write this, series two has just finished and a lot of fans are wondering how we’ll survive the next 300 or so days without any new episodes!
Good timing, then, to launch a new spin-off for the franchise – a video game. The game is set a little earlier chronologically than the TV show – characters that are already dead there are alive and influencing events in the game – Jon Arryn is still alive and is still serving as Hand of the King for example.
You play two different characters – firstly a ranger of the Nights’ Watch called Mors and a Red Priest called Alester. Through different points in the game you explore, interact and fight your way from place to place, throughout Westeros. It all sounds great in theory. In reality, the disappointment with this game sets in early and never really lets up.
Straight away, the menus betray the lack of polish in this game – the main menu for the game plasters the Game of Thrones logo prominently on the screen and the familiar theme tune from the TV show kicks in. It’s just… hamfisted. The game then starts – things briefly look promising. It’s possible to choose from an interesting array of fighting styles (short sword and shield, long sword only, two axes) and some interesting attributes and perks for your character. It certainly isn’t Skyrim or Fallout in this respect, but it provides some early interest.
Then the game itself begins. Damn the graphics are rough… The characters look terrible, their faces are barely recognisable – not that many of the show’s cast made it across – virtually none of the regular cast are in here. The animation of all the characters is poor and the voice acting is diabolical. None of the voices fit – none of them seem plausible or natural.
The first part of the game takes place at the wall – the fortress of the Night’s Watch. The one pleasure here is that it is possible to explore the familiar location from the show – a theme that at least provides a little enjoyment later with locations such as The Red Keep etc.
Soon, Mors’ first mission is underway. Track down another member of the Night’s Watch who has raped and beaten a young male recruit. Charming. The TV show is always full of shocking, brutal language and events but… it’s still a bit of a shock to see this in a video game.
So, Mors must round up a motley crew of fellow Nights’ Watch members and trek out into the snowy north to find the culprit. Only there is no trekking, let alone exploration. You just select the next point on a map and the game teleports you to another location. Soon, it’s time to confront our foe. This reveals further disappointment – the dialogue system does allow for some limited choice of morality and paths, but it is woefully basic compared to games such as Skyrim, Mass Effect, Fallout etc etc.
And then there is the combat. It’s… the worst thing about the game. One of the things I loved about Skyrim was that it immediately made sword combat enjoyable – no mean feat. In Game of Thrones, when attacking an enemy, time slows down and you have to queue up three attacks – then wait for them to be carried out.
Sure there is a variety of actions to queue up – blocks, stabs, slashes etc – there are even potions to mix and use. None of this prevents it being a very real drag.
And so the game carries on. Soon, the second character Alester is introduced and the missions continue. The story does provide a little more intrigue later on, but it’s impossible to recommend this game.
It certainly isn’t worth a purchase at full price and should only be considered if Skyrim and The Witcher 2 are in your collection already. The franchise is a wonderful one – it’s a shame that its debut in videogame form isn’t worthy of the name.
So, a missed opportunity here – too bad. Save your pennies and wait for Series Two of the TV show to be release on Blu-Ray instead – there’s far more entertainment to be had there!
Game of Thrones is out now for Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC