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Combat features some light action elements, but is primarily a tactical affair. While you can move your character and perform simple slashes in real time, the action is best slowed to a near standstill. This lets you turn the camera, survey the battlefield and cue up a number of attacks on different enemies, which sees characters then spring to life and dole out damage as planned.
When time is slowed, a barrage of on-screen icons display further information - from the direction of arrows and planned enemy attacks down to armour types to help you better plan your own attacks.
You can be joined by other characters in combat - including Mors's trusty dog - and knowing your the combined strengths of your party could be key to surviving. If someone is specialised in causing bleed damage, for example, then investing in an attack that takes advantage of bleeding enemies would be a good idea.
Nightmare Mode mentions a "punishing difficulty":
Graphically, unfortunately, the game is hardly up to scratch. The visuals would not look out of place in an Xbox 360 launch title, nor does the script shine with anywhere near the sharp wit of the original. However what Game of Thrones lacks in presentational quality it can, perhaps, make up with quantity. According to Cyanide the game can span 40 hours, even without side quests, and considering the linear format the main quest primarily sticks to, that’s a heck of a lot of story.
It was also mentioned that choices made in the main quest can have impacts of Mass Effect proportions, affecting events as far as seven chapters later depending on lives you must save, take or change. This may well be where the game truly comes into its own, especially if its plot can have nearly as much draw as RR Martin’s original work. Depending on the scale of the story Cyanide choose to tell, this could range from the fate of single characters to whole factions and the outcomes of wars, but so far our knowledge is limited.
From the demonstration we saw, Game of Thrones will have much to offer RPG fans, including customisation of attributes, skills, combat – you name it, you can customise it. Despite being set characters, you can choose Mors’ and Alester’s combat style and weapon load out.
Fans of Dragon Age: Origins will feel right at home with the combat in Game of Thrones, with a HUD and combat system that mimics the former. You can slow down time at any moment in order to tactically appraise the situation and queue up to three special attacks for Mors, Alester or any other party member to carry out. You can also switch between party members quickly and at any time.
Planning your attacks strategically is key in Game of Thrones. Combining certain attacks across party members will earn you bonus experience points and help you level up faster.
We finish with a write-up from Rock, Paper, Shotgun:
It is a linear game, a fixed story with only a handful of (apparently quite sizeable) side missions. At one point it was going to be something of a Skyrim-style sandbox, but the decision was apparently made that “we really want an impactful story” as that’s more in keeping with the source material. I can’t attest to which is the right decision without playing hours of it. I’d certainly love to play something that was organically pushing and reshaping the boundaries of Westeros’ ruling families domains, a sort of hybrid of Total War and STALKER: Clear Sky, but I totally appreciate that going sandbox is so often a recipe for random quantity over focused quality unless you have a monstrous budget to call upon.
The other major foundation of Martin’s books and the resultant show (sexy funtimes aside) is, of course, wanton violence. GOT:TG seemed to have all the hallmarks of a hacky-slashy meathead marathon, so I was a little surprised to discover that it’s actually built around tactical pause-time combat in the vein of Knights of the Old Republic or Dragon Age. To an even greater degree than those are, I think. You pause, up pops some ability menus with the fight going on in super-super-slow motion behind it, you chain together up to 3 attacks, moves, spells, potions and whatnot, including switching foes mid-fight if you wish, you resume and then it all plays out in real-time.