Review: Game of Thrones (PS3)

Title: Game of Thrones
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (2.8 GB)
Release Date: May 15, 2012
Publisher: Atlus
Developer: Cyanide Studios
Original MSRP: $59.99 (Blu-ray Disc) / $49.99 (PSN)
ESRB Rating: M

It was last year, and I was studying hard for my finals week. I got home one night and saw my roommate watching some show on TV. I asked him what it was, and it turned into being one of my favorite shows of all time. Yes, you guessed it! It was Game of Thrones!

Game of Thrones is one of my all time favorite franchises. It is a series of books that have been turned into a show on HBO. It has the perfect blend of drama, mixed with some excellent fantasy that allows for anyone to get engrossed by it. Dragons, magic, zombies; you name it, and it ends up being in this series. That is the appeal of the franchise, and now it is making its way onto our PlayStation 3s. With all of traits that make the series so great, how would it all fair on consoles? The answer is not very good.

Gameplay:
Game of Thrones centers around two main characters performing quests throughout the mythical world of Westeros. We have Mors, a brother of the Nights Watch, and Alestar, a Red Priest who has come back to Westeros to redeem his family’s name. I won’t ruin the story for anyone, but both of their stories intertwine nicely and fit well within the books’ mythology. The only issue with the story is that it starts off extremely slow and builds up towards the end. If I were not a huge fan of the universe, I would have been turned off quite early on. A nice feature of the game, though, is the ability to interact with familiar faces such as Queen Cersei, Jeor Mormont, and Lord Varys during your quests.

Speaking about the quests, you will get to choose from few side quests during the main storyline. These broke up the monotony that is the main storyline. The side quests can go anywhere from recruiting potential Nights Watch brothers to calming down a knight who has had a bad “time” recently. I felt that as I played the side quests got more diverse, but were harder to find. You could walk around all of Westeros and only find a couple side quests to perform. It also seemed that the outcomes, no matter how many times you would replay the situation, would always end in a battle.

This leads to the battle system. I actually enjoyed the battle system a good bit. I am not a fan of RPG combat, but this had the right balance of offering quick strategy with fast paced combat. When you enter a battle, you are in control of either Mors or Alestar depending whose story you are playing. You can pick up to three moves at one time to use on the enemy. These range from special attacks that you customize on the character or to basic attacks like “swing axe”.

The battle system is one of the bright spots

The customization options really make this game. Each character can have their weapons, armor, attacks, clothing, and abilities customized. Do you want your character to be focused on archery but is afraid of poison? How about he is a brute that goes through attacks quite easily? Or how about he is a bloodthirsty killer that will get a boost when someone attacks him? It is all up to the player to choose how to play the game. At one point, I had Mors running around in his underwear, wearing a skulled helmet and carrying a double handed spiked club. He ended up dying at the first battle because one of his traits was being scared of fire, but the game definitely lets you customize your character to your choosing.

This is a big game, but to put it in a nutshell, the gameplay feels broke. You have a story that is slow, and the combat that is good, but there are bugs everywhere. To touch on it briefly, you phase through doors when they open, you’ll be fighting enemies as the character is faced the other way, and there are many times where you get caught in the environment. There are too many broken areas that hinder the good areas in the game like the customization and fighting system.

Visuals:
I never thought I would say this, but the Unreal Engine 3 has seen better days. It might be the way the developer used the tech, or the engine showing its age, but it just doesn’t hold up well. All I know is that this game does nothing special to ‘wow’ you. The environments do mix up through the course of the game, going from a bright cityscape to a snow-covered castle. With that being said, the textures have this dull look to them and the game has this ‘boring’ look to it. Sure, it has some nice moments. The throne room in particular has a glow and a visual about it that I can’t describe. It is what I have had in my head, and they nailed it!

The character design definitely takes cues from the TV show. The models have this big, burly characteristic to them that lends well to the universe. The two main characters have a distinct look that separates them from the blandness of the game. If you look at many of the characters you interact with, you will notice that you have just talked to that person previously in a different skin. I understand that a developer has so much time and needs to cut some corners, but why can’t we get some more diversity in the character skins! This also leads to one of my biggest gripe. When you are playing the game, it really feels like a barren wasteland. If you aren’t in the throne room or the main hall, you won’t find many NPCs to interact with. When you do find an NPC to interact with, they’re usually merchants and every merchant looks the same! Again, why can’t we get diversity!

The characters fit the universe, but the environment is too bland

Audio:
I never thought I would find voice acting so funny, until I played this game. I’ll put it this way; the two main characters, Lord Varys, and Jeor Mormont all steal the game for me. Their voice acting is top notch. The reason why, two of them are the actual actors from the show! The difficult part of this all is that the rest of the voice acting is terrible. There is one instance where I was talking to a guy, and he says, “We will help you Mors” in a monotonous tone. I burst out laughing. I even asked myself, “Did the guy really get paid for that performance?”

It gets even better when you will be talking to an NPC, and turn the camera slightly and the voice acting cuts out. How does that happen? The music falls to the same disaster. One minute, you will be hearing the booming sounds of the theme music; the next you will hear crickets chirping. The irony is that the music is enjoyable when you actually can listen to it. Again, just another missed opportunity with the voice acting and the music.

Game of Thrones opening theme

Conclusion:
Game of Thrones could have been something special. It could have given die-hards like myself an added story in the universe. Instead it gave me a sour experience that is lasting in my mouth. There are so many bugs that kill the experience. I only hope that Cyanide will get a chance for redemption and fix the issues to make an excellent game!

Score:
4.0

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Written by Nathan Hensler

Follow me on twitter, or play a game with me on PS3.
Xbox is also an option: Chili16, or maybe Steam, wait no my computer sucks 🙁

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  • wv06

    Did you read the books?  I wonder if it had a lot of fan service for the book readers.  I have read all of them and watch the show so I am still interested in this even with all the glitches.

    Is it worth it to play just to see some of the scenery of westeros and such?

    I bought Game of Thrones: Gensis the RTS PC game and it was truly awful, at least this one has a proper story

  • Hey WV06, I didn’t want to give too much story away in my review, but ya it does a lot of fan service. Like I said, some of the actors actually voice and use their appearance in the game. I am in the process of finising the second book. It definitely is a lot of fun if your a fan of the game. The story hits on many key points from the beginning of the first book, right before Jon Arryn dies. He has a role in the game too which is great to see!

    If your a fan, you will like this game I have a feeling. I didn’t love the game, but I liked it as another story in the universe. It is a bit slow at the beginning. It takes about 10 hours to get the story going but there are a lot of fan moments in this game!