Last month I was given the Cyanide games version of George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series.
Strategy, backstabbing and marriages of convenience all got in the way of me playing it but eventually I fought my way through the sludgey gameplay and rubbish engine…. My review was published here:
Full text below the cut:
A Game of Thrones
In the land of Westeros, between a boiling southern ocean and a glacial wall of ice holding off the horrors of the north, there is a vying for power. A clash of Kings, a battle of states, a game of Thrones, from which only one champion can arise. The noble houses of Stark and Lannister smash into one another, only… oh no, wait, hang on, back up a minute, there’s no Sean Bean in this, no Emmy Award winning Peter Dinklage, Daenerys, Drogo nor much of anything else from the events chronicled in George R.R. Martin’s epic Song of Ice and Fire saga.
This is A Game of Thrones: Genesis, (AGOT:G) a strategy title spanning the millenium building up to the better documented days of Westeros. In fact, the closest we get to events of the novels are the wars where young strapping lad, Robert Baratheon and his best mate Ned Stark descend upon the mad King Aerys to rid the land of his evil. This should be a far more interesting series of events throughout the majestic tapestries woven through Martin’s writings. However sadly, it’s not.
Sure there are a handful of campaigns, leading you from Queen Nymeria right through to the War of the Usurper, but they are far more of a cursory tutorial, making a mockery of the actual tutorial which in turn is as much use as nipples on a breastplate. But from there you learn the complex pattern of sending envoys to make alliances, and spies to undermine enemy alliances with secret pacts. Rogues to seed civil unrest, noble ladies to marry off to form blood alliances, and assassins to murder just about anybody at some stage or another. That’s before the battles begin, and then end, as they’re essentially more of the same, unit-A beats unit-B concept. The whole sheboodle is a web of interconnecting chess moves that would be fiendishly captivating if it wasn’t so badly implemented.
Some level of kudos has to be given to Cyanide for trying something a little different with AGOT:G. What looks from the outside and description to be a game in the mould of the Total War series, with leanings towards Europa Universalis, in terms of the political shenanigans expected of the player. However in practice it’s barely anything of the sort. Instead what we have is a form of complicated rock-paper-scissors game taken to extremes and pumped through a seriously clunkly game engine.
Yes, it’s downright hideous to play at times. Considering the game looks graphically on a par with indie titles from 2008, it’s shocking to see how judderingly slowly the map scrolls around and how tragically long the loading screens last, usually losing the player the control of the mouse-pointer in the process.
So is there anything here to like? Well a little, yes. Once you’ve gotten through the ardous task of learning how it all fits together, memorised the various units, their uses and if you can find a like-minded soul, the multiplayer is actually quite a good experience as you battle wits against a very human foe. But the sad fact still remains, there are better games of this type out there, some far more complex and some simply better made and you’d be far wiser to seek those out until this ends up in a bargain bin somewhere.