License games are a tricky business which is why so many developers have started avoiding them recently. They can either open up the franchise in new and interesting ways, like the Knights of the Old Republic series, or they can be a total disappointment to fans and become a mockery within the gaming community, much like the video game adaptation of James Cameron’s Avatar.
We had our hopes up for A Game of Thrones: Genesis as it promised to flesh out the story before the events of the novels and the new HBO series in the form of a nice little real-time strategy game. In the end, it’s not a disgusting failure like Avatar, but it’s also far, far away from Knights of the Old Republic.
Toss your RTS expectations away because A Game of Thrones: Genesis completely avoids most RTS staple gameplay mechanics. There is no harvesting of goods, building of bases or any of what you may expect.
Instead, AGoT:G is more of a game of spacial control and prestige, and how you acquire and maintain that rule is up to the player. Starting with your own castle you gain alliances with towns, mines, and farming areas by dispatching envoys.
Once a town alliance is created an envoy can undermine an enemy’s alliance by visiting that town when no other envoy is present. In that circumstance, you can send out a spy to create a secret alliance which will grant the player income, but the enemy will believe that he is getting income (but he’s not). Only other spies can uncover secret agreements and when that happens you need to send in rogues to start an uprising. When the uprising is quelled by using knights, mercenaries, or any armed character you can then send in your own envoy to create a whole new alliance. Of course, this can all be bypassed if you send in a noblewoman to seduce and marry the town’s leader which will then create a blood alliance which can never be broken unless you send in an assassin to kill off the noble woman. To find assassins you need to send in spies along with armed guards to find, capture, and arrest the enemy assassin, or you can send in an assassin of your own to do your dirty work. In the meantime you need to worry about other assassins and mercenaries beating up your local peasants who are farming the fields. If they beat up too many farmers and kill too many traveling merchants then it’s time for all out war.
Confused yet? Yeah… so were we.
All joking aside, this very elaborate game of cat and mouse meets hide and seek is actually quite original. We can’t really say anything with this many moving components has been implemented into a real time strategy game before. So, kudos for that.
But the combat and the AI are lacking in a big way. They simply don’t compare with any other RTS on the market. However, the overall challenge is quite high without being unfair. So anyone looking to flex their deception and strategy muscles can easily do so with AGoT:G.
The music is wonderful. The voice acting is well-above average. But the overly complex gameplay mechanics, the lackluster visuals, and the unsatisfactory combat are going to be a huge turnoff for RTS players. Sadly, we’re going to have to give this one a “Don’t bother” rating. There is a ton of interesting and new concepts at play here, but they aren’t used to their fullest potential. We’re very grateful that this isn’t a quickly churned out licensed game. As far as licensed games go, this is well above the usual offering. However, in terms of real-time strategy games, there are simply too many better choices on the market to warrant AGoT:G‘s existance.
– – – – – – – –
Name: A Game of Thrones: Genesis
Available on: PC
Developed by: Cyanide Studio
Published by: Focus Home Interactive
Release date: September 29, 2011
EG Score: 2 out of 5 | “Don’t Bother ”