Anyone who knows me, knows I’m an Atlus fan girl. I have loved everything of theirs that I’ve ever gotten my hands on for its rich stories and realistic characters – even the ones who never speak. Yet, when it comes to the Game of Thrones phenomenon, I’ve been disinterested – after reading the first two books, the third stalled out and I never finished it, so the T.V. show never seemed like something I would enjoy.
Then I heard there was going to be a Game of Thrones RPG for the Xbox and the PS3. My first thought was someone was trying to cash in on the name for the sake of making some money. And then I heard that someone is Atlus. This caught my attention with an immediate reaction of, “Oh God, I have to have it!” I settled down after a few days and decided to do some research into just what I was going to be paying for; I was not impressed. The videos showed half-assed graphics and declared one of those “Play as four different characters” games which always suggests to me that they couldn’t come up with a good enough story to run with only one set of characters. At the time, they had only released two of the story zones and I was sorely disappointed.
Today, Atlus sent me an email telling me to take a first look at the combat for their Game of Thrones RPG. What the hell, I thought and pulled up the video. As the video wound down I was both surprised this was the same game and again excited to get my hands on it. Hopping back to their main site, I checked out the two areas that had been previously locked and discovered that yes, the graphics look vaguely like the original trailer but have been vastly improved (thank god). Pretty graphics have never been a draw to a video game for me, though, so it’s not why I’m once more looking forward to this game.
With this game, it’s the combat system. Similar to Neverwinter Nights (1 and 2), Dragon Age (1 and 2), Game of Thrones will be using the “Active Pause System” during combat. This is not a pause system. Instead of stopping time, players will be slowing it down. Instead of taking as much time as needed to plan a tactic, players will be forced to think quicker and use abilities faster and there will be consequences for not getting your shit together in a timely manner. This is a twist on an old system of combat that will add a well needed sense of urgency to each and every battle, not to mention it looks much more streamlined than the Neverwinter Nights wheel system:
No clunky drop through menus to slow you down, all of your character’s abilities are right there at your finger tips. No hunting for the perfect ability while that soldier is trying to cut your head off. The game is also meant to be paused repeatedly and switching between characters is instantaneous, unlike in Dragon Age where some game bugs can get you crashing if you switch between characters once too often.
While combat didn’t look as polished as I’d like (the swords don’t quite look like they hit their targets when they swing), over all it looked engaging, pretty, and most importantly – challenging. The additions of each character having three “class” options (Atlus is calling them Fighting Styles) to choose from will leave players with many customizable options on how to kill everything in their path. The Multi-Class customization options also make it so you’re still not stream lined into just one kind of fighting style. Heavy armor and dual wielding? Possible. Parts of what you give up when you choose one class are still open to being picked up as gamers fill out their Multi-Class tree. In the end, you will be killing people your way, something more akin to an Elder Scrolls game.
Since Atlus is well known for making engaging stories and this game was written with help from R.R. Martin, I’m expecting four engaging stories that make me want to read the books again, or at the least pick up the T.V. series. Then again, this is a movie/book-to-game port, so it could be an atrocious story that was never meant to be told via Video Game media – that has yet to be seen, but I have faith in Atlus to deliver.
For anyone interested here is the original Game of Thrones (RPG) trailer and the combat system preview: