First off let me say I’m not a gaming expert; It isn’t my life It’s something I do for a bit of fun, I’m not obsessed and it isn’t my job. This is my take on the game as an amateur gamer.
That said let’s begin. I’ve really only just started this game only having played for a couple of hours so this is very much a first impressions review.
Let’s be clear, it’s a game set in the Game of Thrones world but this is NOT the game Of Thrones story. For me this is a good thing as for those who’ve watched the show or read the books I think it would be less enjoyable, knowing where it was going from the start. That said it might have been nice to perhaps play a young Ned Stark, or even Brandon Stark or Rhaegar Targaryen in a prequel adventure. That is a minor quibble though and leaves room for future games 😉
You play two characters night’s watch man, Mors Westford and red priest Alester Sarwyck. Alternate chapters of the game switch between the two characters as each pursues their goal, (presumably they will link up at some point.) The game begins just before the first book and Jon Arryn is still the King’s hand.
Combat Set Up:
Although this has the appearance of an adventure game the comabat system is that of an RPG. You begin each characters first chapter setting up their weaknesses their stregths, weapon and armour proficiencies etc. During this process I found my first gripe with the game. Games like this are a nightmare if you play on a small TV in a bedroom like me. The writing on the screen is small and some disappears off the end of the screen altogether (I know I need to check my settings). My screen is not big and it’s not flat; now old fashioned as that may seem to die hard gamers it’s all I have space for. It’s also not HD ( I refuse to buy one while this one still works! The TV was here before the PS3.) So I found myself having to lean off my bed with my eyes 10cm from the TV to read the information for each weapon or piece of armour and so on and so on. The same problem occurs throughout the game when you need to choose a skill in combat or make a purchase.
OK I know people will argue here that most games are set up for HD flat screen TVs so big that require you to knock down a wall so it can straddle yours and your neighbours house because that’s what offers the best gaming experience right? Brilliant I’m sure it looks amazing but as not all of us have that option a bit of product testing on an average size bedroom TV would have been helpful. Guess I’m not the market they’re aiming for though.
Operating The Combat System:
R1 brings up your command wheel where your special attacks and defensive moves, purchased with your experience points are listed and L1 brings up your other special abilities in Mors’ case he can instruct his dog to attack people in various ways with his skin changer ability. For Alester it is his red priest abilities. If you’ve not used a combat wheel before it takes a few goes to get used to but is quite straight forward once you’ve got used to the position of all you commands. when your command wheel is up in combat, time slows down and the fight continues in slow motion giving you time to select your commands. You are allowed up to 3 commands in your command chain at a time which are then carried out in order. There are commands for recharging energy and some of the more energy consuming special commands can’t be used for a while when energy drops below certain levels.You have the option to change targets during a fight and if playing with a secondary character or Mors’ dog you can switch between the 2 and give them their own commands. If your character has no commands in their queue they start auto fighting. I sometimes suspect there is more of luck than skill in the fighting but that’s probably because I’m still getting used to it. So the combat system all in all isn’t bad.
While wandering the streets does have some of the look and feel of games like assassin’s Creed ( look at Alester from behind with his Red priest’s hood, doesn’t he look like one of the assassins?) the background characters let it down badly. If you are someone who delights in the details in a game like me this will irritate you. Not only do most of the men you speak to have the same face ( or so I thought) in King’s landing you will find 4 or 5 small folk within a few yard of each other wearing EXACTLY the same clothes! Seriously same model same colour they’ve pretty much duplicated the same character several times and shoved a beard on a couple. All in all there are about 3 outfits available in King’s landing, the beggars rags are even torn in the same places. It might seem like a minor niggle but visually it really spoils things.
Possibly the most irritating part of the game is the vocal acting. It’s so bad it’s almost laughable, actually scratch that I did laugh a couple of times. I’m not saying all of it’s bad but to say most of it is would not be an exaggeration. It’s not just adequate it is truly awful. People in dire circumstances are talking to each other like they’re checking off their shopping lists. If I were one of those actors I would ask for my name not to appear in the credits!
Game play itself isn’t bad, I like running around all the buildings looking for hidden stuff (loot). You can find various things lying around, cash, armour weapons and other bits. lot’s of rooms and corners to explore. I’m having a good wander around Maegor’s holdfast When in conversation you get a choice of responses to use. Although I do have a sneaking suspicion that it doesn’t matter which response you choose the conversation and story will still end up in the same place. Of course this being early days in a first run through I can’t be sure of that.
There are different Merchants to trade with, you can buy armour and weapons, poisons and medicines like milk of the poppy and dream wine and substances such as wildfire.
Mors is a skin changer and one rather nifty feature is you can put him in control of his dog. So you leave his body behind and can go following interesting scents which you can make visible and then bark to bring Mors when you find something good. Although why you would need to do that I don’t know, if Mors is controlling the dog surely he doesn’t need to bark to attract his own attention?
Alester also has special abilities like pressing a button to make fire shoot out of his hands and by the light of R’hllor reveal hidden mechanisms to him.
So far, do I like it? Yes. Do I love it? No, but as I said it’s early days and I’m hoping that will change. The premise of the story is promising and I like the graphics (apart from the people.) It’s certainly not a bad game but so far it’s not a brilliant one either. The repetitive small folk and bad acting let down what could have been a brilliant game. If I’m honest when it comes to the fights I would prefer something a bit more fluid or with more stealth options like Assassin’s Creed. Sometimes just standing there hacking at someone until the red bar goes away gets dull. On the other hand some people might like that particular style of game, it’s all subjective
I may well update this post later as I get further into the game and unlock more abilities as I’m sure they will all add to the experience. I reserve the right to change my. As I said at the start this is very much a first impression review and there’s a long way to go yet.