by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die
For the uninitiated, George RR Martinís A Song of Ice and Fire is a grand scale series of novels depicting the medieval style battles of the fictional land of Westeros. When it was revealed that Cyanide Games were developing a Real Time Strategy game based on the Westeros lore, I immediately thought that the setting would fit in perfectly with the grand scale of current RTS games. A number of large scale battles fill George Martinís series as does the intrigue of various characters in attempting to find favour with others. And I was eager to see how Genesis would replicate the intricacies of battle in Westeros.
Some battles are won with swords and spears, others with quills and ravens
Although A Game of Thrones: Genesis is a Real Time Strategy game, it differs from many others due to its diplomacy function. Wars are not simply won by storming your enemyís castles. Indeed, you will probably feel that you are spending just as much, if not more time in the slippers of Varys the Eunuch than the armoured shoes worn by a warmonger such as Robert Baratheon. Much of the game is about increasing prestige for your House. Sending out Envoys to herald your cause and create alliances, using Spies to uncover enemy arrangements, commanding Assassins to quietly dispose of troublemakers and employing Rogues to create disturbances in enemy strongholds is all part of the game. Even Noble ladies can be married off to other lords to help establish a firmer grip on a Lordís alliance.
Having a Lordís allegiance acts as a catalyst for increasing gold reserves for your House. Merchants create trade between towns and your home castle, enabling you to recruit more diplomatic units or building an army to be feared by your foes. Treacherous tactics by your competitors can of course affect your income, so you must be mindful of these dirty deeds at all times with your own underhanded Spy units and Assassins. Although gold acts as the main resource in A Game of Thrones: Genesis, armies need to be supported. Fields need to be harvested by peasants to provide food for the war effort, so apart from the espionage and use of envoys to garner friendly lords to your cause, there is the need to stock up on food prior to the outbreak of war.
Thatís no law, just a sword. Happens I got one, too.
Once you do get to a point where your prestige is such that warfare is required (not all campaign missions require combat), the grand scale of the novels is unfortunately not reflected in Genesis. Most of the battles, especially early on involve no more than a handful of units, each depicted as having eight or so troops. Certainly, the scale of the battles in Genesis would be dwarfed (all puns intended) by Tyrionís battle of the Blackwater.
A fresh approach to RTS with the diplomacy and treachery aspects.
Slow loading screens, outdated visuals