The lights are on
Not the game you'd expect...
Note: My normally lengthy review archetype will be slightly shorter than usual, by a bit only. I intend to conduct this entire review in the classic Game Informer rating system layout of things (concept, graphics, sound, etc.) and will have a few paragraphs or so below each as according to importance and details I wish to add. Hopefully this won't turn you off in any way, or- if it does, you will find a better review to read, or write the one you would like to hear. Anyway, without further ado- I shall presently begin.
A Concept that Should have easily been Laid in Stone:
Any concept for a game based upon the now-hit television show based off of George R.R. Martin's impressive and expansive book series should end in dramatic detail, perfect synchronization with characters, ironic pitfalls and glory abound- however, the concept for an, as of yet, untold story in the kingdom of Westeros is met will skeptic and conflicting ideas. We now know of course, that most of the skeptics were indeed woefully right. The game is meant to be an RPG set in the immersing fantasy universe crafted by our dear George, and it does justice to that perfectly- the fantasy part, i mean to say.
Anything other than that is truthfully little and low to be found within the game, although it does have its high points to mingle with all of the low ones t may also have or entail. You may notice that this game is receiving a slightly higher average rating from myself personally- and this is not to any bias on my own part, or tsking at the staff here at GI, because I merely think- with all of its issues, it showed promise and the hopes of what might have been definitely shine through this semi-lackluster apparel that the game appears to be clothed in at the moment. It has only been out a short period of time, and- while about as appealing as Tyrion would be to bed, unless you are a paid and laid whore- the game does do justice to some aspects of the world for which it was name.
Let's move on, shall we? You already forced my hand and made me use my witty Tyrion remark in the first few paragraphs, so I suppose I'll have to come up with either some interesting Maester Aemon quotes or worthy Cersei analogies... Damn you guys.
The Gory- Not Glory, of the GoT Graphics:
Oh yes, if there was ever one thing that the honorable Ser Joe Juba of Casterly GI was right about when he talked about and reviewed this game, it was the sub-par graphical ineptitude of the game in and of itself. One could almost argue that this brings down the entire gameplay experience on its own, which would indeed be a feat as mighty as Ser Jaime Lannister's defeat of the mighty and dangerously armed King Aerys II. (What is that you say? Aerys was a mad and foolish king who was cowed easily and not quite so dangerous at all? Oh well- we all like to poke fun at our favorite crippled knight don't we? Oops! I'm sorry, di I just ruin the next four books for you? Dammit again.)
Anyhow, let me no longer tarry so far as to stray away from the already less traveled path here, deep as it is within the Whispering Woods of the North...
As mentioned in Ser Juba's review, of which I have also taken great note- the graphics are painfully bleak, washed out forms of people and settings that would make even Oblivion seem ultra high-tech and possessed of Crysis-like graphics in comparison. (You think I'm pissing all over Oblivion? Hey, I loved that game too!) The poor design and technical aspect of these graphical capabilities and qualities also leave much to be desired, as the blank and unresponsive faces of characters speaking to you are always a (pleasure?) horror to see throughout lengthy dialogue and monologue sequences.
Oh yes, some things could get worse with room to spare, but with the graphics, Cyanide and Atlus truthfully did nearly hit rock bottom of this dangerously narrow sea. Imagine it as Balon Greyjoy's rocky and windswept home with a dash of mild insanity and crack-cocaine thrown into the mix. That's about what every model looks like in-game... Well, that and an old-fashioned Tribes-esque look with armor components I suppose...
(Sounds?) like Teen Spirit, or Sounds like Margaery Tyrell's Backside?:
Oh yes- as Ser Juba also did me the courtesy of pointing out, many of the epic and resonating (and/or hauntingly epic depending on how you view such things) themes from the television show's episodes do make appearances within the Game of Thrones video game. However, there is one slight problem with this- yet I can't seem to place it... Hmm... Oh wait. Yes, yes- you're right. Every single voice animation in the game sounds like Renly accidentally let out a fart right when he and Margaery were about to have a go at it. (What, you say? Too Clash of Crowns for you? Well- I suppose its better than the alternative for Renly's appearance in Storm of Swords, eh?)
Each and every one of the voice animations for characters often sounds monotonous or despairing, quite literally- although I suppose that is okay when the people are grieving whores, mothers, or others bleak and poor souls upon which dastardly crimes have already been committed. However, if you are in the middle of combat or what is supposed to be a vibrant and moving or flowing dialogue- well, now you can see why this is such an issue.
Truly, if there were ever (for some insane and ungodly reason, yet I shall mention it anyway) to be a sequel to this certain Game of Thrones video game- the two things that must needs be desperately improved would of course be none other than public enemies one and two: Sound and Graphics. While everything else could of course do with a good, firm polish or touch up, at least these two could make the shoddy gameplay much more appealing by far.
Well, let us continue on down this insane ride through the rabbit hole, shall we? To the next portion of the nether we venture- hoping that the reviewer who is so obviously cynically (or is it clinically?) insane doesn't drop any more Thrones remarks, phrases, or anything of the sort, or even any mention of Oblivion and other games.
Playability is a b*tch- or Was that Karma?:
The third reviewed section, and another most obvious choice that is in dire need of repair of some sort, would have to be the playability, or general disregard for such found within this game. While the interesting addition of a semi-traditional abilities wheel to this game may not in and of itself be a completely terrible idea- many of the ways in which it is implemented are most definitely indeed. If you heard the words "playing" and "wheel" and immediately thought of Mass Effect's glorified abilities and weapons wheel switcheroo, then sadly- think again my friends. You will find no such thing here.
However, as can ofttimes be said of many a thing at times- you could almost say that the slow and clunky interface, or at least the way it is included within combat and such- without taking a true break from the action, is in fact a great and innovative design step on its own grounds. The phrase, "It's so bad it's good," would certainly apply in such a case, but let it be known that some general work could still be done on this portion of the game.
While I was not so much impressed as merely satisfied and quickly sated throughout combat and the "wheel of semi-misfortune" within it, the somewhat smooth and broken-up mix of things in combat does truly portray George's way of things with the unanticipated complications that will often arise- whether by choice or by mere chance. However it may be, this was an interesting change of pace by far- and a neat quirk to look at as well after you had died and reflected upon the harsh reality that the Starks have always broken to others for the thousands of years since their house was founded- "Winter is coming."
Out of combat, while some of the lengthy textboxes can be droll and slow at times, the story somewhat thin and loopy as well in a few areas- I was actually remarkably impressed with how some betrayals and other instances played out, much to my delight. (Oh, and it is always betrayals and ironies with George and anything remotely George-related, trust me.) The variety in many quests was well dispersed- although the repetitive nature of others was a minor nuisance as well. These two simply revolved around each other- making me both love and hate the game at times, but oh well- one does not simply only love a game, and after all- you play the game of thrones to win, or you die.
One more small tidibt on any combat or other action sequences would be simply that while it does seem a tad bit archaic to only map basic attacks and combos as such to the buttons, and keep all of the other awesome powers at your disposal separate- it does add a mix of strategy and flavoring to the game's combat and sequences, so it isn't a risky mistake without reward. In fact, I actually quite enjoyed it for some reason, and I'm not even sure why...
Must be Alesters' Thoros-like ability to turn people into immolating fireballs and Mors' vicious dog attacks that strangely remind me of a medieval Call of Duty killstreak award as such... Oh well.
The Love/Hate Relationship with the Games' Entertainment:
While the game has equal amounts of both good and bad moments, it can keep stalwart and pervasive fans of the series easily entertained with its often brutal combat, rough-cut and grimy visuals, and slow, adaptive writing and switching viewpoints- much akin to George R.R. Martin's own writings- minus some of the luster and appeal of course. In fact, the very measure of George himself signing off on the story as an interesting viewpoint and angle only serves to add support and a fanbase to the game that would have been otherwise nonexistent without him. Of course, there will always be people who bash the game's entertainment value because of aesthetics that they can't seem to get used to, or the other amount who love it for seemingly no reason other than that it is something in some way related to the Thrones' franchise- but then again, we see that everywhere, so we not?
Simply look no further than the undying argument of multiplayers' two steadfast juggernauts- Halo and Call of Duty. You have three groups of people within that region of gaming, as well as in general gaming alone: the kind that stick with Halo and the way it plays, the kind who are moderates and generally open to anything within their tastes and raging abilities, and the people spontaneously condone CoD and condemn anything else that they deem unworthy because it doesn't include the word Call (unless its Call of Juarez- they might be fooled for a minute.) or Duty.
Sad to say, but this could turn people off of the game. But then again, that's the harsh reality that people in this world- as well as George's face all of the time. Having to make decisions and having to live with them constantly, while often regretting them just as oft as not...
The Super Replay of Westerosi Culture Invites you to It's Grand Re-Opening:
To but the kabosh on what I at first intended to be a not too terribly lengthy review, but which somehow decided to grow into one anyway- I will simply wrap up without any further closing remarks. What has been said has already been said, and could not possibly be said in many more ways than I care to ramble on about or makes gestures (obscenely or not) about either.
I gave the Game of Thrones video game (mainly for the Xbox 360, as that is the console I own it for- although this pretty much applies to the others as well, because as far as I can tell, they are all pretty similar in the least) a 7.00 out of ten total points, which may be a tad high for some tastes, and low for others. This is merely due to the mitigating and aggravating sentences and factors given by the six or so above listed segments of my review. Keep in mind that this is of course as I played through it, and your playthrough- should you buy or have already bought the game, may indeed be vastly different.
With that said, I will soundly place my banner in the castle of whatever lord may hold reign over Cyanide and Atlus' lands, because I will pledge a whopping Moderate replay value to this game. While others' opinions may differ with mine own, keep in mind that I never said I wouldn't become a Frey and pull one over on you later...
Don't attend any weddings any times soon, especially if you enjoy bringing your dog along or a dire wolf, if that is your thing...