Game of Thrones PS3 review
HBO’s x-rated fantasy series is the best thing on the box. Besting Baltimore cops eavesdropping on drug dealers or even the extra illegal exploits of a terminally ill chemistry teacher [Ed: you’ve gone mad], it’s a constantly thrilling small-screen revelation. But where the show somehow makes the fat bloke from the Tesco ads utterly plausible as a badass, beleaguered king, this relentlessly workmanlike RPG can’t even make a dude who conjures fire from his palms interesting.
If you had hopes Cyanide’s title might be a grand, Skyrim-style recreation of an open world Westeros, kill them with all the fire. This is a largely linear journey where small, boxy environments give little scope for exploration. Most of the action is split between semi turn-based battles and interactive conversations that adopt a Mass Effect-esque dialogue wheel. Pleasingly, there are at least consequences for your choices and it’s often possible to shirk skirmishes if you can charm/con folk.
Fights when they do occur are far from awful. You attack enemies by queuing up and chaining together moves from menus. Sensibly, you can slow down time with R1, allowing you plenty of breathing room to properly plan attacks on multiple enemies. When it works and you’re commanding your dog to rip out oesophaguses or barbecuing some sap with flames it can be enjoyably tactical. Sadly, though, the standoffish nature of scraps means you’ll mostly be sitting on your hands while the game plays itself.
Still, who needs consistently compelling combat when you’ve got two main characters who barely muster a 74th of the screen presence Peter Dinklage possesses in his stupendously talented pinky. Following the tales of Mors Westword and Alester Sarwyck, the two leads’ essentially non-cannon story runs parallel to the show’s first season.
Mors is a ridiculously gruff Brother of the Knight’s Watch, who comes across more as a narked off middle-aged hoody than a tortured, complicated warrior. Protagonist the second is at least slightly more interesting. A fiery-handed Red Priest who makes a fantasy flambé of his enemies, Alester’s journey to stop the unjust arranged marriage of his sister at least causes him to bump into a few recognisable faces from the show.
Not that this is a faithful recreation of what you’ve seen on TV. Cyanide has purposely chosen to take the brunt of its inspiration from the A Song Of Fire & Ice novels that inspired the series. While the ace theme tune and the likes of James Cosmo and Lena Headey appear, the game doesn’t capture the show’s captivating, sweary spirit.
As such, you’ll find nary a nipple, decapitation or smugly-dropped C-bomb in sight. Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with trying to tone down the distinctly explicit action. But when your script is bland like a steamed tofu casserole and is spoken by voice actors more wooden than Pinocchio’s engorged schnoz, some more adult content could have given PS3 Game of Thrones some much needed personality.
Give me the option of a night in with the first season’s Blu-ray boxset or this mostly shabby spin-off and I’d go HD Sean Bean chivalry every time. Seeing locations like The Wall or King’s Landing recreated on your PS3 offers brief thrills, true. But when you’ve got to mire through so much mediocrity, this is one game I’d gladly leave stuffed in the cupboard alongside Trivial Pursuit: TOWIE Edition.