Preview: Game Of Thrones
A Song of Ice and Fire, a best selling novel which has recently become more popular than ever. Written by George R.R. Martin, the fantasy novel was already a great read, however since its inception into a TV series, things have never been the same. Meet the Game of Thrones role-playing game.
The series is either loved or hated. Many love it, however there are a few who feel that it doesn’t deserve any attention, as it ruins a great book. Which category you fall into, is up to you.
To compare the novel to the game would be a sin. It’s nearly impossible to compare movies to games, so let’s not try compare books to games. With that in mind, a brief look at the novel is necessary, to offer a brief overview of the story.
A Song of Ice and Fire sees a fantasy story set in Westeros, where eight large families are fighting over the Iron Throne — the ultimate seat of power, and a symbol of domination. The series is expected to have seven books in total, where the fifth issue was only released last July. The Game of Thrones videogame will base itself on the first book only, and with this, players will cross paths with characters such as Jeor Mormont, Varys the Spider or Cersei Lannister. With the game only being based on one book, it’s easy to see that there’s space for growth if it does eventually become popular.
Title: Game of Thrones
Developer: Cyanide Studio
Publisher: Focus Interactive
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC
Expected Price: R452
Release Date: May 18
The initial story takes place at the time when Jon Arryn, the Hand of King Robert Baratheon, is found dead at King’s Landing. This is somewhat early in the book and TV series. The game will attempt to educate us on what happened without touching on the current story.
Game of Thrones will offer two great quests, as the player will follow two different characters: Mors Westford and Alester Sarwyck. The story for these two characters is said to be totally unique, where George R.R. Martin canonised these characters to run alongside the original story. Therefore, the game is not a mere acting out of the book, but rather uses facts from what happened to offer a greater, more detailed experience. Despite not being the same as the book, the game will offer many references to the book, characters and locations. Whenever one is lost, it’s possible to consult a Westeros Encyclopedia.
Each story for the two characters will be told simultaneously, on a chapter basis. Therefore, each character will share the role of ‘main character’, until they cross paths in a common quest. Something unique for a role-playing game.
Player choice in Game of Thrones is said create consequences on the rest of the game. And with over 30 hours of gameplay, there will undoubtedly be a lot of decisions to make.
The first character, Mors Westford, comes from a bloodline of knights, where he is also the last surviving member of House Westford. The Westford family has been in service to House Lannister for generations. However, that’s not true for Mors. Around 15 years ago Mors was forced to abandon his family when he joined the Night’s Watch, and because of this, he is one of the best rangers of his order. Mors has an aggressive fighting style, thus earning the nickname “the Butcher”. Both feared and respected, gruff and direct, Mors has enough battle experience to keep himself alive. Mors is a fighter and not a talker, and with this, he would sacrifice his own life to defend his beliefs.
Alongside his fighting skills, Mors is also a “skinchanger”. Skinchangers are able to enter the mind of living creatures, therefore Mors can take control of his canine companion who will help him on his quest. Mors’ dog will help track enemies, as it has a hyper developed olfactory sense — for smelling.
Alester Sarwyck is the second playable character. Alester is the eldest son of House Sarwyck, a noble family connected to the Lannisters. However, Alester was different to everyone else. Like Mors, 15 years ago Alester abandoned his family to settle in the Free Cities of the east, across the Narrow Sea. Whilst in the Free Cities, he entered the orders of the Clergy of R’hllor, which lead to him becoming a red priest. Alester has devoted his life and his faith to his god. Alestar is somewhat opposite to that of Mors, as he is calm and loyal. He will be diplomatic, and think before he acts.
Although red priests are represented in the Free Cities, they aren’t very well known in Westeros. Despite that, red priests have useful powers and skills which can be utilised. For example, Alester can call upon his deity to use fire to flush out objects or hidden doors in the environment. Of course, this calling for fire will help with combat too.
From the player’s perspective, one will be able to choose their own character class and style of combat. Weapons, armour and skills will be upgradable as well. It is, however, important to remember that each player has unique skills, and one should play to his character’s style.
Although Mors is more of a fighter than Alester, the game caters for this. One can earn experience points by merely talking his way out of a fight, therefore, political talent and know-how is just as important as a sword.
The combat system for Game of Thrones allows one to equip complementary weapons, such as a sword and shield for close combat and a bow for long range combat. Naturally, it’s up to you to choose which you’d like to use and when.
Following that, the combat system has the ability to slow everything down, to analyse and anticipate the best way to continue attacking. How you feel about this, is purely subjective — as others may enjoy it.
Both Mors and Alester have great skill trees, so each character will be your own.
There are five different environments, or areas, in the game: The Wall, Castle Black, Riverspring, Castlewood, and King’s Landing.
The Wall is a massive wall of ice which is stretched across the northern border of the Seven Kingdoms. It will separate the wild land from the civilised land.
Castle Black is the fortress of the wall. It is the seat of command which is run by Lord Commander Jeor Mormont. About 600 men are currently stationed at Castle Black.
Riverspring is situated in the Westerlands. It is at the source of river Blackwater. This is the stronghold of House Sarwyck, where it was run by Lord Raynald Sarwyck prior to his passing. The estate is troubled, as there has been many murders.
Castlewood is situated in the Riverlands, on the banks of river Blackwater. House Harlton is situated in Castlewood, where there is a long political and somewhat interesting history. The head of the House is Arwood Harlton, who swore allegiance to King Robert Baratheon.
King’s Landing is the capital of the Seven Kingdoms. It was built three hundred years ago, on the exact spot where the first Targaryen king landed on Westeros. It is the kingdom’s heart of power, and where the Iron Throne is situated. King’s Landing is protected by City Watch, an army with two thousand men.
Game of Thrones has been developed using Unreal Engine 3, where it will offer all the standard effects, textures and environments available in other titles. To keep the game up to standard, there will be lip-synching and character voice-overs. At times there will be multiple responses available, which will lead to different scenarios acting out. Each character will respond based on their personality, leaving you with the choice of how to go about combat.
It will be available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.