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4 Reviews

Game of Thrones Review: Solid fan service but combat will leave you cold

Now is the winter of our discontent...

Despite the fiction-faithful fan service that's gone into this universe-expander, Game of Thrones is sullied by a fatal flaw - the combat's crap.

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It's Knights of the Old Republic in chainmail - action-queuing in semi-realtime, with brief LB-triggered pauses to launch flurries and mount defences. There's little in the way of actual control, often feeling more like crunching numbers than skulls, and this leaves gamers versed in a more hands-on approach as cold as that encroaching winter the folks in Westeros can't seem to shut up about.

It's tactical, sure - players need to adopt stances, scout enemy weaknesses and pick effective attacks, whether ranged, dual-wielded or two-handed - and there's bound to be an audience hankering for this rarer, more hardcore brand of bloodletting top-trumps. However, brutally ugly clipping issues and the tedium of watching a few scraggly men stand on the spot and clumsily trade blows until one drops dead utterly divorces you from the game and threatens to undo goodwill set elsewhere.


From a visual perspective, at least, Game of Thrones is a quiet contender to The Witcher 2: immense barricade The Wall reaches high and wide, casting Lord Commander Jeor Mormont and his frosty-breathed Night's Watch in bitter shadow, while southwards lies sunnier climes, like imposing stoney capital King's Landing. It's fast travel over free-roam, but the appearance of iconic locations and cameoing characters (hairless man-lady Varys is still horribly creepy) mostly redeems the hollow fighting.


You control two newbies: Mors Westford, a veteran ranger of the Night's Watch, and Alester Sarwyck, a priest of R'hllor. The characters are blank slates, shaped and moulded through character classes, headbutting and armour-piercing talents, as well as skill trees, and both men making adequate vessels from which to experience the well-observed world of Westoros. Giving players a young Sean Bean to battle with would've been the popular option, but this decision smartly expands the fiction further.

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