Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is the first
RPG of 2012 to be released and Electronic Arts have taken the gamble of
creating another new RPG universe for gamers to play in. Interestingly
enough, the developers had two professional writers as advisors in the
birth of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning that include fantasy scribe
R.A. Salvatore of the sword and sorcery genre (Dungeons & Dragons) and
Todd McFarlane of Spawn fame.
Also included is Ken Rolston, the lead
designer from Elder Scrolls III and IV which creates a rather impressive
brain trust for this title. As a result, the game has this real Lord of
the Rings atmosphere but you can definitely see where the influence of
Salvatore and McFarlane came into the story and artwork that is laced
with a touch of Elder Scrolls, thanks to Rolston.
In this world that has seen many conflicts
which have involved the humans, elves,
gnomes and fae, a new evil is about to rise that is lead by the fae
called Gadflow. This fae is a zealot and wishes to unleash war upon The
Faelands again order for him to release his god upon this realm. This is
where a nameless (for now) soldier comes into the story who has been
resurrected thanks to the Well of Souls which creates a new destiny for
destiny commences with the character creation screen and allows the
player to choose either a human or an elf from various nations around
the globe. However fate plays a key role to all denizens of this world
and as you have been raised from the dead, you are no longer bound by
the rules of fate which gives you a free pass to changing your
characters destiny. This means that even when you have selected your
skills and abilities and for a price... you can basically reset your
character. It's definitely a strange feature but one that actually works
if you muck up your character or want to try something different.
However compared to Dragon Age or Skyrim, the
character creation tool is a little basic but it does allow for some
customisation such as sex, facial features, religion and of course, your
abilities. After being spoilt by games such as Skyrim, Kingdoms of
Amalur: Reckoning does feel a little limiting, however once stepping
into this rich and detailed world, my Skyrim obsession slowly started
slipping away. When you’re finally in the game, the title teaches you
how to navigate in this world and how to fight and use your
skills/powers which leads you to choosing your class for your character,
be it mage, rogue or warrior. In reference to classes, your characters
are not limited to their class skills only, so you can create some
interesting amalgamations such as warrior mages or even a mage thief.
There are also guilds littered around the world to assist with the
overall RPG element of Reckoning.
The world of Amalur is huge and unlike Dragon Age, the gaming
environment uses more of a sandbox approach that is akin to an MMO where
it opens up zones. Also in these zones, you will find lore stones that
basically give the player more information about the world that you are
visiting plus a permanent stat boost. Even though the world is not a
true open-world experience like Elder Scrolls, you can still virtually
explore every nook and cranny in this massive universe.
cities to lush forests and some brilliant lighting and weather effects,
the environment of Reckoning is a living breathing world with plenty of
interaction for the player. Apart from your main quests, you'll also
embark in a variety of side quests that can often lead to interesting
plot points and of course, some additional weapons and items for your
character. It should also be mentioned that morality does not really
play a role in the story as all roads still lead to Rome. This does
detract on the choices that you make in the game as they don’t really
impact the overall story that much.
Just like most RPG's, grinding will assist
in your character becoming a powerhouse and this helps with the various
boss battles that you engage in. However by engaging in a few hours of
grinding every now and then, it will assist in levelling up your
character and using your precious points to fine tune your skills.
Fateshifting is another mechanic to combat and by killing enemies, this
increases your fate meter that in turn gives you more options for combos
and mixing up your characters skills. When you do fill up your fate
meter, it basically increases your power and uses a touch of bullet-time
to stylize your attack… in turn you become a true superhero… for a time
Unlike other RPG titles, Reckoning is almost a third person action game
with its fluid fighting thanks to its one button melee approach that has
been well mapped on the DualShock controller, especially when you engage
in the enemy. I like how you have quick access to your magic via the R2
button or even accessing weapon swaps or items is extremely flawless.
Whether you’re using a sword or two or a combination of shield and sword
or something totally different like a bow, there's plenty of weapon
combinations to choose from, especially when you start specialising.
Reckoning unfortuantely uses a degradable weapon and armour system for your
character which means you need to keep an eye out for the status of
these items. This is a little annoying, especially if you forget to
repair them before going into a boss battle.
Another aspect that I enjoyed about the
quests in Amalur is the freedom it gives the player as you don't feel
obliged to just solely focus on the main storyline and more importantly,
not all quests involve combat. Depending on your style of play, most
gamers should easily be able to finish this title in around 35 to 40
hours but if you want to explore more of the various lands, you can get
lost in this title for a lot longer like 50+.
Graphically, you can see the influences of Tod McFarlane in the game
with the stylised models of all the various fantasy races that grace
this title. It has this more comic or cartoon feel to the environments
opposed to a game like Skyrim. For me, Reckoning sits somewhere between
World of Warcraft and Dragon Age in terms of visualisation. Character
animations are very smooth and as mentioned the environment comes
together impressively well, especially with the lighting effects and
almost otherworldly colours employed by the game.
There are some
downsides to the graphics that include framerate issues and some
textures errors. Voice acting is exceptional as is the majestic
classical and clichéd RPG soundtrack that would not look out of place in
a Lord of the Rings film. I did love the sometimes British comedic
accents of the gnomes but overall, the voice acting did enhance the
gaming experience. There was however some audio glitches that I'm hoping
will be rectified in the next patch for Reckoning.
In conclusion, Kingdoms of Amalur:
Reckoning provides another immersive gaming experience that will force
many people to lock themselves up again while they complete this game.
It's also a strange game that uses modern RPG elements and also classic
RPG elements that creates this strange hybrid RPG system that works on
most levels but may feel dated for some. Given that, if you're a fan of
RPG titles and need something after your Skyrim addiction, than Kingdoms
of Amalur: Reckoning may be the perfect game to fill that spot!