Game of Thrones Review
Luckily though, you can benefit from our experience and find out in advance what combat is like - which, in a word, is: repetitive. Or, in many words: repetitive, repetitive, repetitive.
The problem stems from the fact that you usually control a small group of warriors, each of whom you can give orders to when as the fight continues. When combat is in full swing then trying to switch between three or four same-faced men and telling them each to hit different things can be a little confusing, which is why at the press of a button you can slow the action to a crawl. This makes it easier to give orders and co-ordinate your tactics.
The weakpoint however is that, not only do few of the warriors have unique or interesting abilities, but that you can only queue up three attacks at a time for each person - and that each ability requires energy. Fill up your queue and you’ll have to switch back to real time and wait for it to empty, usually so you can just refill it with the same attacks again. Run out of energy and you’ll have to switch back to real time and wait for the meter to refill, usually so you can execute the same attacks again.
Click to enlarge
Either way, it becomes a loop that repeats over and over, both for each member of your party and also for each of the many fights in the game.
What’s more, limiting characters to just three moves in a queue feels like an artifact left over from a console-optimised game. There’s no reason to limit the queue to three on a PC, nor to have the interface so dominated by a floating health marker, but there they are - as if Game of Thrones has learned nothing from the likes of Dragon Age.
The look of the game is inconsistent throughout too, which doesn’t help. Plenty of characters from the books and TV series show up in the game, from Jeor Mormont to the Lannisters, and most of them are immediately recognisable. Others however look nothing like their TV show counterparts, while other areas of the game show similar failings - loading screens are all too regular and combat animations are painfully few.
Click to enlarge
Environments often compensate for this, however. The scale of the locales is a bit uneven throughout, but they generally manage to capture the feel of the world quite well; a feat achieved through lighting and character design as much as through the variety of quests and content. Castle Black feels vastly different in mood and style to somewhere like Kings Landing.
Game of Thrones’ biggest draw for most players though will be that it offers a chance to immerse yourself in the world and see more content than that which is offered up in the books and TV series, so it’s a shame that the game doesn’t handle this aspect better. The world is there for you immerse yourself in, but so much of it offers so little reward that for many it just won’t be worth the hassle. There’s so much reading to do that you’d be better off tackling the books, if you haven’t already.
If you have
read the books and are still thirsty for more though, then perhaps the game does warrant a look. For all we’ve said so far, it’s not actually a terrible game and it does have some good ideas in it (though most of them are saved right up until the endgame); it’s just that these few nuggets are buried so deep under an avalanche of tedium that only the most ardent fans will bother to persevere.