Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning [Review]
February 14, 2012
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a very ambitious project brought to us by Big Huge Games and 38 Studios. Both studios are trying to bring together the best components of an action game with the best components of an open world RPG. Despite some mistakes, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning does a good job of bringing the two together, but in the process of accomplishing this task some of the basics of an open world RPG are neglected.
The story begins with creating a character that you soon find out is dead. The character is then brought back to life by the well of souls. From there the story lets us know how everyone is born with a predetermined fate, but since you died and were brought back to life, your fate is a blank slate. The game will constantly give you reminders that you are the only one who can create your own fate and how it effects the world of Amalur.
There is a lot going on in the story of the fateless one, but for the most part it’s rather forgettable. Nothing was really entertaining in the story department and the dialogue in the game is full of hits and misses. There are times where I found myself intrigued and then other times skipping through it all because of bad voice work or I didn’t really care about their problems. It seems for every good point that works with Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning there is another component that messes it up.
I really wanted to learn more about the world but I couldn’t find myself getting lost into the story like a good RPG should. Eventually I stopped caring and went questing around to experiment with the combat system since I lost interest in the story. My character was just another face in the crowd but the only difference was that he was being controlled by me. While my character was an important part in Reckoning’s story, I didn’t feel like he was very connected to the world and its people.
My character felt like a doll that is being tossed around amongst the people to perform tasks that no one else was willing or able to try. It came to the point to where I was playing the game strictly for combat, and the only reason to keep listening to people was to level up and gain more skills. In an open world RPG there should be more reasons compelling me to save Amalur other than the combat.
The gameplay of Amalur is where this game shows why it deserves to be played by anyone who likes RPG’s and action games. The combat is so fluid that it made me forget that I was playing an RPG. The combat between moves flows between normal attacks, can be chained to your secondary weapons attacks, and magic smoothly to help chain moves. There are some very impressive combos that are plausible with some experimentation. I enjoyed launching creatures into the air juggling it with arrows and then launching a lightning bolt right at its face while it was falling to the ground. It’s these moments of being a bad ass that make Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning worth playing.
Reckoning also has a third meter that activates a rage like mode called “Reckoning” mode. It increases most of your stats and when an enemy dies a reaction command that will trigger a quick time event. During the QTE a button will appear where, if you mash it, will fill a meter that will allow increased experience on enemies you kill during “Reckoning” mode. This adds another level of decision making on whether waste it to get more experience out of a mass of creatures, or save it to easily take down a boss.
There a ton of different weapons ranging from the slow and damaging hammer, all the way to the stealth killing daggers. Each one has their own advantages and disadvantages, and represents each class in the game. The real trick is finding the different weapon combinations that work well together for combos. There is also a lot of crafting and experimentation in the game. The player can craft potions, armor, weapons, and gems to go into weapons and armor that have slots for gems.
The game lets you play and fight in any way you choose. There is a respec option that lets the player change their skills and abilities for a price. If you want to be a straight rogue you can, but you can change that to be a hybrid of a mage and a rogue or even become a full-fledged soldier. The game basically lets the player play it however they want at any time, and it definitely adds to the replay value and variety of ways to accomplish tasks.
I wish there were as many different enemies as there were weapons and fighting styles. The enemies might all look different but their main mechanics are about the same. Each one has their own trick behind them and once the trick is figured out its all downhill from there. The bosses at the end quests add a lot of variety, but tedium will roll in eventually. Most the fun will be finding new ways of taking on some of the same situations.
Visually the game definitely sells the idea that the land of Amalur is a mystical and magical place. The world looks like it is full of magic and wonder. Around every corner there is something new and beautiful to look at. The creature design looks like they came straight out of a fantasy novel. They all look and feel like they belong in the world of Amalur. While some of the villagers look good, a majority of the others don’t look like they’ve received the same attention.
The musical score of the game is amazing and makes the world feel like it’s full of magic. The music playing in the background helps set the tone of each area and fits what is going on in the game at the times. The voice acting has its moments where it actually makes you believe in the world of Amalur and then there is dialogue where you skip through to get them to shut up. I actually killed some of the NPC’s just because I thought the world would be better off without them existing.
The controls in Amalur work well with there being a primary weapon, secondary weapon, dodge, and magic buttons. It’s nice to have the camera on the right stick and with adjustable sensitivity. The only massive problem I have is with the camera is that it is not reliable; it sometimes is put into the worst camera angles possible. There are times where it zooms out at the right time so I can see what I’m fighting but then a few seconds later it changes perspective. Sometimes when it changes I wasn’t able see all my enemies and I got hit in the back by a random creatures . This problem could have been easily avoided with a lock on target button mechanic but in the control scheme there is no way to lock onto a single target.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a good game that bites off a little more than it can chew for its first time on the block. It pulls off an amazing accomplishment by doing a good job of bringing together the best things of an action game and an RPG. The only problem is that it also brings all the faults and problems that plague both genres. While I do think Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning failed to accomplish the perfect mesh between the two, they weren’t far off from finding that sweet spot between the two.
Out Of 5
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
The world of Amalur is mystical and full of amazing landscapes. The character models on the other hand are kind of lacking.
The score is nice and sells the atmosphere of Amalur. A lot of the voice acting is forgettable and downright bad.
The controls work for the most part and serves the combo system . I do wish there was an easier way to swap out magic spells or abilities and the camera to be a bit more manageable. It also would had been nice to have a lock on button mechanic to make targeting specific enemies easier.
The combat is great and most of the enjoyment of the game will come from this aspect. The game lets you play anyway you chose and has tons of replay value because of the customization. The story is a letdown and some of the combat situations will get rather repetitive.
Most of the fun comes from killing all the creatures. Some of that fun is lost though when you realize that the characters in the story are boring and the only reason your there is because it gives you a reason to go questing.