'Game of Thrones': Great story brought down by monotonous voice-acting, weak gameplay

palcala@herald-leader.comAugust 16, 2012 

Fans of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire might welcome a video game based on the series, but it's not as engrossing as the books.

PHOTO COURTESY GAMES PRESS — Photo courtesy Games Press


    'Game of Thrones'

    About: The successful book series that inspired the HBO show becomes a role-playing video game.

    Players: Single player

    Pros: The plot follows new characters and is done well, as you would expect.

    Cons: The voice acting really detracts from the stellar story, and the gameplay is tedious.

    Availability and price: $59.99 on Xbox 360 and PS3, $49.99 on PC

    ESRB rating: M

    Manifesto's rating: 4/10 (Xbox 360)

    Metacritic rating: 5.2/10 (Xbox 360)

With a successful book series and a hit HBO show, it was inevitable a Game of Thrones video game would arrive.

The recently released title from Atlus offers a new story inside the universe created in Game of Thrones, the first of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. For the uninitiated, the series follows the ruling families of the Seven Kingdoms, a region of the fictional medieval world of Westeros, as they descend from an uneasy peace to an all-out feud.

The role-playing game follows two new characters — Alester Sarwyck, a red-robed priest of R'hllor, and Mors Westford, a ranger of the Night's Watch.

Sarwyck's story begins with his return after 15 years to Riverspring for his father's funeral. He soon gets drawn into a conflict of who will rule.

Westford starts out on the Wall, a 300-mile barrier designed to keep out forgotten enemies in the frozen north. He doles out justice to wildlings and deserters as he trains new brothers of the Night's Watch. But after a letter from the King's Hand arrives, he sets out on a mission.

Depending on the choices you make, there are easily 20 hours of cut-scene dialogue that deliver as compelling a story as you would expect from Martin's universe, except it's delivered in a boring, monotone with somewhat dated graphics.

The game's action is delivered in real time. But once a battle begins, instead of just pressing a button to attack or defend, the combat slows down while you bring up a menu to select the type of attacks you want and stack them. A couple of different combinations take care of most enemies without much trouble.

As Westford, you can change this somewhat and actually possess his dog to attack enemies. You also can just track a scent and go exploring. While inhabiting a dog is fun for a bit, the game's action is predictable and repetitive.

The story is easily the best part. While I never felt as completely immersed as when reading the novel, the game adds another layer to the world of Westeros. The decisions you make will affect the outcome, and several endings are possible

But for a fan of Game of Thrones, the tedious gameplay and slow, dry voice acting detract from the experience.

Pablo Alcalá: (859) 231-1604.

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