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Preview: Game of Thrones
Gamers will finally be able to get interactive in Westeros with the release of Game of Thrones. This action heavy RPG from Atlus and Cyanide Studios features a story supervised by George R.R. Martin himself and runs parallel to the show’s events. Yes, the HBO show version of the series takes precedence here and you can easily tell by looking at the screen shots of some of the areas and familiar characters you’ll run into. The actors that portray Queen Cersei Lannister, Lord Varys, and Lord Commander Jeor Mormont lend their talents to the RPG.
The story here begins where Game of Thrones does with the death of John Aeryn, King Robert’s first Hand. Our two main characters then come into play. In Game of Thrones you’ll be alternating between two campaigns that see Mors Westford, a brother of the Night’s Watch, and Alester Sarwyck, a Red Priest from the House sworn to protect Riverspring. Both characters have something in common and also something unique. They both are of Houses that are vassals to the Lannisters and fought for Robert during the rebellion against the Targaryen Mad King.
Alester has a very interesting backstory. After the rebellion and Robert ascended to the throne, Alester fled his House and Westeros and joined the Clergy of R’hllor in the Free Cities. This is where he became a Red Priest and devoted his life to his god. In the game he can choose to stay from afar and battle his foes using archery or get up close and employ the skills of a Sellsword, Water Dancer, or the fierce fires of R’hllor himself. Alester’s classes are very different from one another. A Sellsword is basically a rogue and you’ll be doing a lot of sneak attacks and taking advantage of enemy sight. Water Dancer’s act on the flow of battle and if you’ve read Game of Thrones and know of Syrio Forel then you should be excited for this. A Water Dancer’s abilities are all about using the enemies’ momentum against them, waiting for the best opportunity, and striking at the weakest point. The combat for this class will be exciting. An Archer takes the advantage of the arrow with skills to poison your projectile and be more precise. Finally, taking the powers of the Red Priest, R’hllor gives you access to the Flame of Life. A lot of combustion and fire spread is strung throughout its skill tree.
On the Wall, Mors will use his nickname to his advantage: the Butcher. His classes are all about what type of weapons to use. The Magnar is able to Dual Wield and excels at one-to-one duels. A Landed Knight is more like a tank where you carry a sword and shield. The Hedge Knight is hulking mass of destruction that uses two-handed weapons. Then there is the Skinchanger which allows Mors to take control of his faithful dog companion. The dog can combat enemies using skills learned through the skill tree and aid Mors in battle. You can snatch a shield off the arm of an enemy and immobilize them. This allows Mors to close in and finish the fight. Both the Skinchanger and R’hllor skill sets can be used in junction with the other classes of the characters. You won’t be cut off from the Flame of Life if you wish to be a Water Dancer or Archer. Mors will be able to upgrade his dog no matter what he holds in his hand.
Both characters have separate stories that will converge near the end allowing the player’s skills to work off of Mors and Alester. For instance, Alester can infuse the Flame of Life onto Mors’ pet to give fire damage to his bites and lunges. Speaking of story, both the North and the South will be represented in Game of Thrones. Alester and Mors will take us through the Wall, Castle Black, Riverspring, Castlewood, and even King’s Landing. All five of these areas can be checked out over at the game’s official site. A bulk of the story is still unknown except for the fact that both characters eventually meet up. The series’ story events will occur and unravel as the game continues.
The game plays out a lot like Dragon Age where players are given a map of locations and a string of quests. Exploration is given a large feature in the game as both characters have different ways to find hidden items and scavenge. Mors uses his dog to sniff around and find things as Alester foils the illusion of the eyes and uses R’hllor’s gifts to uncover hidden objects. Scavenging items allows both characters to upgrade and change their equipment. Combat takes a more action RPG sense as you control your character. A very cool feature during combat is the ability to slow down time and give directions to your comrades or set up skills. The game never pauses, though. Unlike Dragon Age where menus and tactic screens paused combat, Game of Thrones only slows down time. If you are about to be hit by a sword, just because you set up a skill doesn’t mean it won’t actually come down on you during your selection.
Taking another note from Martin’s series is the power of dialogue. Using both characters, you can respond to events using their personalities. It is important to carefully pick who you use to act out a scene as their way of response could trigger an unwanted result. Player choices during dialogue is very important to the story and changes how things carry out down the road.
With a canon story supervised by the creator of the series, Game of Thrones looks to bring a whole new point of view during the crucial events of the book and show. Fans of the series or of RPG’s in general can find Game of Thrones on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC platforms on May 15th in the US and June for the UK. If you are looking for the PC version, check out Steam.