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Default Game of Thrones - Review Roundup

May 21st, 2012, 14:32
Time to catch up on some Game of Thrones reviews - as before, it's a mixed bag.
Kotaku says "don't play", describing the game as a "unpolished, joyless slog":
If the best thing Game of Thrones does is its split narrative, its combat has got to be the worst. Throughout the game, you'll come up against guards, wildlings, and bandits, and each engagement is just… flatly uninteresting. The combat system is something of a melding of real-time and turn-based combat in which you cue up attacks to, for example, knock your enemy off balance and then hit him with a crippling blow.
Or I should say, "hit" him. The combat looks like an old-school MMO—the combatants don't really seem to ever touch one another while fighting, they simply wave swords through each other as numbers fly off and hit points deplete. It's all rather dispiriting, particularly when you're losing—rather than feeling tense and exciting, a nail-biter finish involves watching your health bar deplete and hoping that your enemy's bottoms out faster.
On the other hand, GameSpot says 7/10 and again the story is praised:
Story makes up the vast majority of this adventure. This is a good thing because the elements surrounding the plot can't reach the lofty heights of the story. Combat thrusts so many ideas at you early on that it's initially overwhelming. Attributes and percentages flood the screen, and though a tutorial spells out what everything means, there are so many things to keep track of that you fear you're missing something important. Which sword should you use against heavy armor? What does it mean when an enemy starts bleeding? These answers become second nature in time, and it's when everything clicks that it becomes apparent just how simple the combat system really is.
"Poor man's Dragon Age", according to Games Radar (5/10):
Especially in the early going, Game of Thrones often feels like a poor man's Dragon Age, from interacting with dialogue wheels to slowing down combat in order to queue up different attack actions. But while the most basic framework is available and functional, you might find some aspects of Game of Thrones lacking, but especially if you’ve invested dozens of hours into Bioware’s blockbuster. Comparisons solely to Dragon Age aside, many textures and character models are ugly. The world doesn’t feel so open and alive (and lacks an abundance of side quests and activities). Combat can become repetitive. The events are more linear. The mini-map is nearly useless.
GameInformer joins others in calling the combat "boring" (6/10):
The situation doesn’t improve on the battlefield. Combat plays similarly to the console version of Dragon Age: Origins, but with less polish (and remember Origins on consoles was already sloppy). You set up actions in a three-slot queue, then watch your commands get carried out in sequence. Apart from your basic attack, no abilities are mapped to any face buttons, so you frequently need to pause (though the action doesn’t stop entirely) and pull up an ability wheel to issue new orders. Your powers are cool, especially those involving Mors’ dog and Alester’s affinity for fire, but the stop-and-go feeling keeps fights from gaining momentum.
Even when you win, you won’t get any tactical satisfaction. Every enemy in the game is just a dude in some armor (with a single late-game exception), and they aren’t military geniuses. Archers often attack at point-blank range, stupidly trying to fire arrows while flanked by swordsmen. Guards stand oblivious while their comrades are slaughtered in huge battles only feet away. You can usually cruise through fights against these idiots without a problem, but the difficulty can spike unexpectedly, overwhelming you and leaving you with no way to grind out a few extra levels. In these instances, it helps to adjust the difficulty on the fly to survive the poorly balanced fights.
OXM Online - 7/10:
[quote]
But hang on: there’s good reason to play anyway. Whether you’re sniffing out traitors or talking your way out of combat, running errands often feels like so much ineffectual scrambling on the periphery of world events. Yet, as the hours pass, and the haunting (or heartening) consequences of past deeds become apparent, you’ll start to feel like a bon…More information.
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May 21st, 2012, 14:32
I already didn't like Kotaku, but their review just tells me to avoid them for anything RPG related in the future. They really don't like the same type of games that I do.
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May 21st, 2012, 19:25
I was hoping for it to at least be not horrible.

A "poor man's Dragon Age" set in Westeros actually sounds much better than expected. Definitely buying this one now.
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May 21st, 2012, 22:47
I am a big fan of G.R.R. Martin's books, and used to be an avid RPG gamer (when I had more time and less responsibilities) so I really had some hope for this one.

Considering the reviews, though, I will just follow their patching policy. If they commit to the game and continue to fix bugs, I will probably buy it even if it takes me a while to actually play it. If they abandon their customers, on the other hand, it would only lead to a bias against Cyanide in regards to future games, I guess. It would be a shame, though.
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May 22nd, 2012, 00:23
@coyote what bugs do they need to fix I've played 10 hrs and haven't run in to one. Are there some later bugs I should be aware of?

I'm also wondering if there is a big difference between the console and pc versions. I'm playing the pc version and it doesn't seem ugly at all. It's not skyrim but it's far from ugly. I've also found the game to be rather difficult and require tactics (playing on hard). The 15% damage bonus you get for having the right weapon against the right armor has been the difference in a few fights. So has a well timed knock down or bleeding bonus.

It's sad that graphics and the need for twitch combat factor so highly in rpg reviews.
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May 22nd, 2012, 00:35
Add a favorable early review by me too. So far, about 5 chapters in, no bugs that I can remember. Story is good so far, game is fun. Nothing to complain yet.
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May 22nd, 2012, 15:02
Nice to hear that technical difficulties seem to be non-existent!

@sakichop: From your description, it sounds like the PC version (the only version I will play, if I buy the game) seems to have alright graphics and the reviews might even be biased against the combat system solely due to console limitations. As I wrote in my previous post, I did not buy the game, hence I must judge from whatever I read about it.
One thing that I would expect them to fix, though, is the battle AI (maybe not technically a bug, but instead a design flaw). To quote the gameinformer.com review again:
"Archers often attack at point-blank range, stupidly trying to fire arrows while flanked by swordsmen. Guards stand oblivious while their comrades are slaughtered in huge battles only feet away. You can usually cruise through fights against these idiots without a problem, but the difficulty can spike unexpectedly, overwhelming you and leaving you with no way to grind out a few extra levels. In these instances, it helps to adjust the difficulty on the fly to survive the poorly balanced fights."
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May 22nd, 2012, 17:18
The AI is similar to what you find in games like BG2 or DA:O* really.

As for difficulty spike, seems the guy who wrote that wanted a walk in the park without using the pause system. Harder fights require more careful usage of your abilities. No different than "boss" fight in normal RPGs really.
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May 22nd, 2012, 19:37
Hello.First post ever for me in RPGWatch.I've been playing the game for a few days and i'm almost at the 2/3 of it.First of all no bugs for me.Second the game is old school to the bone.If someone thinks that the RPG genre started with Diablo and ME series are pure rpg's than he/she should avoid this game.Yeah the battle could have been better and there are some other drawbacks one might mention but still it's definetely worth playing especially if you're a GoT fan(books or series).Unfortunately nowadays people care more and more about graphics and fast paced battles rather than an interesting story and the gaming industry complies.Honestly i feel far more attached and care about the two characters of this one compared to the ridiculous Champion of DA2
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May 23rd, 2012, 00:50
These reviewers are so bitchy about graphics. Seems they all want the latest AAA FPS all the time. I think the graphics look good, with the exception of the skinchanger's dog. Maybe the console versions' graphics are worse or something. I'm on PC with the settings dialed all the way up. Sometimes hits in combat don't line up perfectly with the recipient's body, but it's really not bad at all.

I'm not far in at all,but I'm enjoying it so far. First chapter was pretty linear,but the game seems to have decent atmosphere. Character development seems decent. It's a bit MMOish but seems to have had more thought put into it than most. More strategic than most. I like the combat system.

Haven't run across a single bug in the first chapter or the beginning of the second.
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