Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Review
Developers: 38 Studios and Big Huge Games
Publisher: 38 Studios and Electronic Arts
Genre: Action RPG
North American Release: February 7, 2012
European Release: February 9, 2012
Trophies: 1 / 2 / 8 / 40
Kingdoms of Amalur is an action RPG title, created by 38 Studios and Big Huge Games, featuring works by R. A. Salvatore, Todd McFarlane, and Ken Rolston. You are given the option of choosing one of four different races and creating your own unique character to use in the massive open-world of Amalur. This game is on the same design and playground as the likes of other RPG's such as Fable. It plays and looks greatly similar, but features some of it's own unique properties.
At the start of the game, you are given a few brief choices to create your hero/heroine. Each of the four different races will have a preset appearance that is fairly customizable and gives some bonus allocations to your stats. You do not have a great deal of options here, as the game lacks some customization options other RPGs have, but you can still make a badass looking unique character. Upon playing the game, it seems they took out the time detailing the NPCs you speak with and put it all into the environment and enemies you face. The world is absolutely gorgeous as are the details in some of the monsters you will encounter. This game definitely shows off some of the talent of the team.
One of the first things that will stick out to the player, after starting the game, will be the fantastic combat system. It works as simple as pressing for your basic attacks that can be stringed nearly endlessly together with the ability to roll, block, and perform special attacks/magic in between your strikes. You are capable of blocking in mid attack to shield yourself from enemies or roll away to dodge completely. Be aware, your enemies can do this too ... so you may, at times, find yourself needing to plan some strategy versus running head first into a mob of foes.
"I'm Gonna Get you Puny Human!!!"
There are several different types of weapons including your standard longswords, hammers, daggers, shields, but some new weapons known as faeblades are introduced into Kingdoms of Amalur. These weapons offer an attack speed that is somewhere in between swords and daggers. Not as strong as some of the higher end swords, but the faeblades are faster yet slower than daggers, while retaining more attack power. Each weapon in the game will feature unique move sets and attack chains giving some depth and you're capable of equipping two weapons at once to chain together different combos. You will also have numerous special abilities including magic to add to your arsenal as you play the game.
Also, you have a special ability to use the powers of fate, by pressing both and simultaneously. This ability can be used once you have filled the fate meter, that is displayed on screen, and makes you nearly unstoppable for an amount of time. When the "Reckoning" is activated, time is slowed down and you are able to deal much greater damage to your foes. Just before the attack ends, you can press on an incapacitated enemy and use the remaining fate power to deal a final ultimate attack, known as a fateshift, that allows you to repeatedly tap a button and receive a percentage of extra experience.
Most of of the controls feel very fluid and responsive in Kingdoms of Amalur. The combat and move sets are awesome and function nicely. The one issue I had, though it doesn't hold the game back really, was the lack of a jump button. Most RPGs have one, unless it's a tactical or strategy-esque type game. You have areas in Amalur, where you can press the action button to interact and jump down from ledges or climb around objects, however, doesn't help but take you out of that overall control.
The opening story doesn't tell you much about what is going on in Amalur. However, it is definitely an amazingly told tale when you begin to learn of all the elements within the game. Basically, there is a war going on in the world between these immortal demon beings known as the Tuatha against the mortal beings of Amalur. The Fae, which are also immortal creatures, are fighting amongst each other during this time and some of them are attempting to change fate. Your character is brought back to life, using some machine created near the beginning events of the game, and is known as the Fateless One, a being with no set destiny and can alter the fates of everything around them. The man behind all of the lore and the world of Amalur is R. A. Salvatore, known best for his Science Fiction works involving "Forgotten Realms", "Star Wars", and "Magic: The Gathering".
In addition to the fantastic main story of the game, you have numerous guilds and factions that your character will be capable of becoming part of, expanding the game with numerous sidequests. You will find that these are similar to classic guilds of other RPGs, such as a Thieves guild and Mages guild. Though they are named differently, you can tell essentially what they are based around. Each faction contains their own unique story and can be completed at any time in the game as you locate them.
Here! Have a breath mint!!
You have the entire world of Amalur to play through and adventure, finding secret loot in dungeons, completing random sidequests, and just exploring to kill new creatures. The game is more linear in the beginning until after you have visited a few places in the main story, but afterward, you have free reign to go where you like. You're only held back by your level and how you handle the new foes you will face in each section of the world.
Each of the numerous areas of Amalur are very diverse in terms of the dungeons provided and landscaping. You will fight through large woodland zones, to desert plateaus overlooking the world, and even in a completely frozen wasteland. These areas will feature their own types of enemies and loot to be found,
Looking at the graphics of Kingdoms of Amalur, the game is quite stunning. The worlds are beautiful and environments fun to travel. The game doesn't have graphics though on the level of Skyrim or Dark Souls, however, it has a different art style to it, designed by Todd McFarlane. The world resembles closer to Fable's art, being more "cartoonish" than real looking.
Some of the big issues with the game though are the facial animations and dialogue not syncing with their movements. Also, NPC animations in general are sloppy and thrown together it appears. You will find yourself talking to people and seeing their mouth move after they've finished speaking or just flailing their arms around pointlessly. This doesn't hinder the experience of the game, but feels very rushed and unfinished. On the contrary, the enemies' movements in-game work very well, as does, your own character's attacks and movements. Everything here, including the controls mentioned before, are very fluid and smooth.
Kingdoms of Amalur doesn't have any major glitches that hold it back, however some slight clipping and shading issues occur from time to time. Some of the environments will lose their detail and appearance as you travel until the game can catch up loading. Again, this doesn't hold it back completely, but takes away from the experience when it occurs.
The trophies in Kingdoms of Amalur are very straightforward. You have several story related ones to achieve as well as a few "basic # of actions performed" type trophies, including: Lockpicking, crimes, dispelling chests, etc. The game isn't very difficult so even inexperienced gamers can start the game on the Hard Difficulty setting and play without much trouble. The main story is long, however it takes only one playthrough to achieve the platinum if you begin on Hard Difficulty. Lore Stone and Reagent collecting in the game will be the most time consuming trophies most likely.
Kingdoms of Amalur is a very well-made new IP for RPGs and definitely has alot of top names on board it's creation for such a small developer. The game plays absolutely amazing and is very addicting without getting boring at all thanks to the diverse play styles within. The story is on par with other top games such as Mass Effect and Elder Scrolls while looking nearly as stunning in it's own unique way. Some of the technical aspects felt very rushed into the game and could have been greatly improved if more time was dedicated to fixing them beforehand. Nothing really takes away from the experience, but you will definitely notice a few tweaks that could have been made.
Kingdoms of Amalur plays great and is an addicting experience for such a new IP. Combat is very fun and will be where the game shines with it's fluid combos, weapons, and abilities to use.
The story is nearly top notch and there is plenty to do or explore in the world of Amalur. Fantastic story writing and experience all around.
While the graphics look really great, some technical issues will hold it back with clipping and shading problems from time to time. Controls feel great and fluid, but other NPC animations and gestures look ridiculous. The enemies and the areas of the game itself will keep you sucked into the world of Amalur.