I have tried incredibly hard to love A Game of Thrones: Genesis. AGoT has so many great ideas it hurts to not love it. First, a little bit about my knowledge of the stories that inspired this… game. I know this will upset the diehards but I entered the world through the exemplary HBO series. I read the book along with each episode, making sure to stay just behind the current story. Then school started and my reading quickly turned to government and real history. I do love the stories, but Genesis does nothing to enhance my understanding of the world, for better or worse.
The story of Genesis takes place years before A Game of Thrones proper. The only relations to the books come in the name dropping. When playing against other players or AI in “House vs. House” you can choose famous battles like The Battle of the Trident. Really, you just battle in the locale, you don’t live out the battle. I’m not even sure if I can use the word “battle” when describing this game.
The game plays out like an amazing turn based strategy title or a board game, but in real time. This is what kills the game from the start. In each battle you start with your house and your lord. Then you build envoys to travel to locations to secure alliances which bring in gold and other resources. Following that, you send your spies to make sure there is no secret alliance. Rinse and repeat for each town or mine. It takes anywhere from three to five minutes to travel from your house to the first town. The same is true for traveling town to town on most maps. The spy is quicker than the envoy so you can move him around a bit quicker but this does not alleviate the feeling that this is a turn based game at the core, running in real time. You can also use assassins to kill other units, including envoys, which is great when done to your opponent but beyond frustrating when done to you. This is because it requires so much work to track your envoys and keep them on their routes of securing alliances. Rogues can cause uprisings in towns that stop the flow of income to the allied house. Oh, then there are some troops that can fight sometimes. It’s actually a fairly small percentage of the game but combat is in there. Each map has a peace and war meter. This lets you know when diplomacy is about to fail a few minutes before war breaks out, giving you a moment to prepare. You actually win by gaining points from being the dominate house on multiple goals, such as diplomacy. You can also send out a lord or lady to marry a town which locks them in alliance with you until the spouse is assassinated. If this sounds complicated or boring, don’t worry… it is.
I must confess I did not finish the actual storyline in the game. This isn’t because I didn’t enjoy the game, I think I will eventually once some issues are patched. Instead there are some fantastic issues that will bring a laugh from the deepest parts of your belly. In one mission my main unit, which has to survive, freezes the game to give me some story line. While the game is frozen and I am being drawn in to the very competent voice acting I hear, “I’m so sorry,” which are always the words spoken before an assassin kills someone. Then the game ends and I have to restart from the last check point, because they killed the main character/storyteller while the game was on pause! I laughed quiet a bit. This was one of the first times that I could say the computer was cheating and have indisputable proof. Then I loaded the check point and realized it set me back about four steps, or forty-five minutes. This wouldn’t have been too much of an issue except for the fact that it crashed when I went to the menu to save and check the help section and the load times for the game are unbelievably long. I have a very good gaming rig and loading takes upwards of a minute or more, even for small maps. The graphics do not justify this in any way. They aren’t ugly by any means, they just look four or five years old. I then decided to head to some “House vs. House” for some full on war. Of course, by full on war I mean “watching envoys slowly saunter from town to town”.
I hate to be so negative about this game. Genesis has so many great ideas with how the diplomacy works. The issue is that it is so slow and buggy that it ruins any chance of enjoyment. It is a game of tedium that would have easily been a definite buy as a turn based strategy game. Instead we are left with a bug ridden shell holding some of the most innovative ideas in strategy gaming in years. I look forward to future games from the developers, hopefully this is a learning experience that places a foundation for the next game.
Could Bring Fun To The Extremely Patient.
|Should Be Turn Based.|
Entirely Too Much Minutia.