Game of Thrones is one of the most revered fantasy pieces in the modern era. It has been quite often equated to the great ones like the Lord of the Rings. It is no secret that such popularity would give birth to a lot of gaming ideas. A Song of Ice and Fire, written by George R.R. Martin, is one of the books in the series of Game of Thrones. It is a great read with awesome and sadistic characters, arrogant nobles, and lethal plot points.
The Game’s Plot
The idea of the Game of Thrones is the unification of seven kingdoms against the root of all evil coming to destroy all of humanity. The undead from beyond The Wall is amassing to exterminate what is left. However, it is not as easy as gathering every lord and marching out to defeat the evil. The world is full of political drama where these arrogant nobles are only looking out for themselves. Leading wars for their personal interest at the detriment of the common folks. Oh, and did we mention that there are dragons involved? A video game set up in such a world basically already owns a one-way ticket to success.
Except it does not. Unfortunately, Game of Thrones: Genesis is not a good game by far. It barely captures any feelings of the GoT franchise. Straight off the bat, the game will remind you of an iconic work Age of Empires. Unfortunately, that is all that we get. The singleplayer campaign follows a very vague and unspecific history of Westeros. The main characters feel extremely shallow and their story is uninteresting, to say the least.
Fortunately, this is not all of the games. When we delve into the multiplayer, or how the game likes to call it a House to House mode we notice where all of the development attention was pulled into. Here one can play as any major house, which is an equivalent of a faction in the Game of Thrones universe. These can be anything like Stark, Lannisters, etc. Once playing one work to raise the prestige of their house. Getting 100 prestige is the winning condition. This is done via strange but weirdly fun ways like hiding away your bastard children so that nobody finds it out or making sure that no traitors are among the ranks so as to not humiliate yourself, or just going through the most straightforward way – killing and murdering as many people as humanly possible to instill fear and respect in everyone. This is by far one of the only fun modes of the game.
There are two main resources driving the economy – gold and food. Gold can be generated by allying yourself with different towns and castles. This, in the term, gives you the possibility to have merchants going on the routes to generate the income. On the other hand, peasants are working on generating food. As funny as it may sound food is never a problem in this game. Excess food and gold can be used to hire mercenaries. The more resources you have the more ability the house has to have an active army with more professional mercenaries like pikemen, crossbowmen, etc.
The more aggressive moves the player makes the higher the chances for a war to start. For this, the developers have integrated a ticker at the top of the screen which tells you how close one is to war. The inclusion of such a feature is a great addition to the game but the problem is that it’s just not that obvious mechanic. Each house has specialized units that give each house a variety in the gameplay. For example, the House of Stark has specialized tough field commanders and very fast footmen with the addition of their iconic dire wolves. Unfortunately, even in the face of this variety, the combat is quite a lackluster. This is caused by poor combat AI if anything. Also, the design of the game makes it a bit harder to wage a war due to the sheer fact that the combat is just messy.
The core of the gameplay comes down to different agents that each player employes. Basically, everyone has different agents. These can be bought with gold. The more you pay the better the abilities of the agents. The player can either buy more expensive and already experienced agents or just train them up via different resources. They are mostly what gives the ability to a House to go on an offensive. They can help acquire territories, protect other agents, scout the areas, and etc. Thus, agents are one of the most important aspects of the gameplay.
As an example, let’s go with a spy. The spy can detect hidden enemy units while stationed. They can also detect enemy spies, out traitor towns, and agents by inspecting them and etc. If enough experience is gathered they can also disguise themselves as enemy assets and start infiltrating your opponents. This means that the spy gets an ability to sign on traitor nobles in enemy houses. Agreements can also be made by a cheap Envoy agent while Noble Lady makes very same alliances unbreakable until an assassin straight-up murders her. The rogue can raise rebellions and buy loyalty from different units while guards protect important characters and act as overall police with the ability to arrest enemies. Arrested nobles can be offered as a ransom to their respective houses.
Overall, the agents are really fun to use, however, the problem arises when there is just too much to manage. The micromanaging factor for all of these different agents makes the gameplay a tad bit too tedious. Also, the biggest problem is figuring out what is relevant to your success.
In conclusion, the singleplayer campaign is extremely long and slow. The story is quite a bit unclear and overall gives the feeling of a boring experience. Apart from this, the graphics are extremely dated. Even the colors are quite dull and not attractive to the eye. The skirmish mode is the fun part of the game, however, the multiplayer is quite dead at this point and all of these tools are just not fun to use against an AI opponent, which is also quite dumb to be fair.