First Impressions: Game of Thrones RPG

30 May

Game of Thrones is an action RPG for the Xbox 360 and the PS3 published by Atlus and co-written by George R.R. Martin, the brains behind the books that have spawned all this craziness. My first criticism of this game is: Not as many boobs as advertised. Moving on from my tits fetish (Don’t judge me, you have one too), this game is phenomenal story wise, okay game play wise, but crashes and burns with animation.

See this?

Apparently people hate staring at that guy. The biggest criticism of this game is the animations during the multitude of cut scenes. This head (and the others belonging to people you talk to) doesn’t move much, has one expression (or has an intense expression that doesn’t match the dialogue), and his lips don’t match his words. In other words, it’s Elder Scrolls: Oblivion all over again. But people loved that game! So why do they hate this game?

My opinion is the criticism from this game come from people expecting more action from their action RPG. I can’t blame them for that, nor can I say that the animation isn’t shitty, because the animation is shitty. What I can do is call them immensely silly for expecting anything that has even the loosest ties to the Game of Thrones franchise to not have expansive dialogue, story, and cut scenes. Atlus would have been better off comparing this game to L.A. Noire or Heavy Rain as it’s closer to that style of game play than the Elder Scrolls or Dragon Age.

So far, this game is mostly what I expected: lots of people talking, less so me killing things. I actually cleaned my living room, set up my file cabinet and organized my files all while listening to the fully voice acted dialogue during cut scenes for the first three chapters. All this chatter is broken up by your own conversation selections and combat, but there’s still so much that it’s like listening to T.V. (I don’t watch T.V., I listen to it – stop judging me).

Besides having robust character dialogue, Game of Thrones has a complicated, in  depth character creation and leveling system. At the beginning of Chapter 1 and again at the beginning of Chapter 2, you create a character based on the main protagonist for those chapters. Not only do you choose his skill allotment, you choose his strengths and flaws, then begin work on the skill tree.

Skill allotment works as it does in most games and the skill tree isn’t anything innovative either. What I thought was a great addition to the game was  Character Traits. Players get to pick three at the beginning that are positive – Born Leader (bonus to allies), Gifted (extra loot), Bloodthirsty (bonus damage against enemies with the bleed debuff), etc. then have to balance those against weaknesses. Each strong trait had a point value based on its usefulness and a corresponding weak trait with its own point value. After players have balanced their values (equal point values on each side) this section of character creation appears to be over and done with.

Except it isn’t. As you go throughout the game, your conversation selections add Character Traits. My Red Priest got one called Devotion which makes him resistant to being caught on fire after I decided he would push his religion in every conversation (on a whim) and choose all of those options. The game recognized this and awarded me for that. My Night Watchman got sever Character Traits after surviving a vicious Wilder attack in Chapter 1.

Unfortunately, that was about the only really interesting thing about that Wilder attack because the combat system, while innovative, isn’t all that entertaining. With several abilities to choose from in the skill tree, it’s easy to discover combination attacks that deal massive damage and with three ability queue slots, it’s easier to execute those combinations. This ease also makes combat repetitive and boring, especially since the animations for the attacks are simple and uninspiring. They’re fluid, sure, but for the Unreal 3 engine, it’s truly lacking any razzle-dazzle.

For me, the story makes up for any failings in the rest of the game. Set before the beginning of the first book just as Jon Arryn dies, you take control of two characters – Alester Sarwyck and Mors Westford. The later is a veteran ranger of the Night’s Watch and the former is a red-robed priest of R’hllor who returns home after fleeing 15 years previously to attend his father’s funeral. I won’t spoil any of the story, but Alester is so far one of my favorite characters in an action RPG.

All in all, I name this game another niche buy. If you are in love with the Game of Thrones IP, get this game. It enhances the current story with its own, though it never overlaps the story in the books/T.V. series. If you enjoy games like Elder Scrolls or Dragon Age and can’t wait for the next game to come out, get this so long as you won’t sit there and nit-pick on how much better those two games are because those games are better game play wise, if equal to Game of Throne’s story. That being said, if you don’t give a damn about the IP and dislike action RPGs, this game is clearly not for you.

Enjoyable, but lacking in some areas, the Game of Thrones RPG will not disappoint fans of the ever growing IP, but the animations may make them cringe. If you can’t stand the animations either, try doing something else while listening to the dialogue. It’s working for me, but then again I listen to T.V. instead of watch it.

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One Response to “First Impressions: Game of Thrones RPG”

  1. Gaming PC guy June 17, 2012 at 6:18 am #

    so, play the game and do something else during the boring parts, a game that forces you to actually do stuf irl

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