by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Stick them with the pointy end
Battles mechanics do seem to work well though with the right strategies. Directing archers to an area with some cover will enable them to fire upon startled enemies. Mounted knights cut down infantry with ease, whilst Men-at-Arms can make light of archers in close combat. The rock-scissors-paper system work quite well. But unfortunately, for the most part, the lord with the largest army will prevail in the end. So it is imperative to get the diplomacy part of the game sorted before thinking about conducting a war. This will no doubt irk some RTS gamers, but personally I found it to be a refreshing take on the genre.
The use of special units and bonus attributes for the main Houses of Westeros, also help to give the game a nice touch. Each of the main Houses from the novels is represented and has their own unique bonuses. The Tullys of Riverrun, for instance, have bonuses with their mounted units being ten percent faster and more powerful than other Houses, whilst their special unit - the Singer - can entrance an enemy unit so that it stops all activity. This variation in bonuses for each House certainly keeps the game interesting.
You know nothing, Jon Snow
If you use these bonuses and special units skilfully, they can certainly help to turn the game in your favour, especially in the House v House mode, where as you have probably guessed, you play as one of the famous Houses of Westeros against one of the other noble Houses. But it will be the campaign mode that most gamers will want to play through. The campaign takes gamers through Nymeria’s arrival in Dorne towards conquering Westeros. Whilst doing so, gamers are able to take part in Aegon’s invasion and the war of the Usurper. It is certainly enjoyable to play through some of the period preceding the Game of Thrones story. The first few campaign missions could be regarded as tutorial walkthroughs, despite the game actually having a fully fledged tutorial. The tutorial does give a little more detail on what each of the diplomatic characters do and what is depicted in the games interface, so it is still worthwhile learning the ropes first before joining the campaign. Genesis also has a multiplayer mode, but personally I had a number of issues finding games to play (my time zone is probably the main issue, though).
Visually, Genesis is somewhat disappointing. The landscapes are clear and colourful and the units are easy enough to distinguish, but they are dated. They could have come straight from a game from the late nineties. The map also appears too cluttered, with houses too close together to feel realistic. There is no sense of the scale of the Westeros depicted in George RR Martin’s writing. The game almost views Winterfell and Riverrun as next door neighbours despite the fact that it would have taken a week on horseback to travel the distance between the two noble houses. But having said that, the visuals are adequate and the screen is not overly cluttered with menu screens and stats as can be the case with some RTS titles.
Winter is coming
Overall, A Game of Thrones: Genesis isn’t at all bad. It has some fresh ideas with the diplomacy and underhanded tactics, which are suited to the A Game of Thrones world. This may not suit everyone’s idea of how an RTS should play, but works well for the most part. Unfortunately, the scale of George Martin’s wonderful series is not reflected in battles played out in Genesis. Despite the graphics being outdated, they are more than adequate, although I would have liked to have castles and villages more to scale. The interface is uncluttered and easy to decipher, enabling quick decisions to be made without having to switch back and forth between menus. The fact that resource harvesting isn’t required (apart from food production for your armies) also means that you can concentrate on other aspects of the game. Fans of A Song of Ice and Fire will no doubt enjoy being able to play out some of the grand moments in Westeros’ history, but may have hoped for something slightly more polished. I am still looking forward to what Cyanide has planned for their RPG adaption of the series.
A fresh approach to RTS with the diplomacy and treachery aspects.
Slow loading screens, outdated visuals