Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
|Game Name:||Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning|
|Platforms:||Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC|
|Publisher(s):||38 Studios, EA|
|Developer(s):||38 Studios, Big Huge Games|
|Genre(s):||Action RPG, Hack-and-Slash, Open World|
|Release Date:||February 7, 2012|
|Big Ups:||Fantastic Writing, Amazing Gameplay, Good RPG Mechanics, Incredible Amount of Depth.|
|Big Downs:||Not Super Innovative, F*** Online Passes|
There is something about an ambitious brand new IP coming from a development team full of all-star fantasy entertainment creators that really get my nerd juices flowing, and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning definitely fits that bill. Imagine the hack-and-slash gameplay of the best Action/RPG, mix it with the open world aspects of a Fallout or Elder Scrolls game, and then thrown in fantastic writing of R.A. Salvatore for the game world’s lore and quest lines, and you have a recipe for one of the best western role-playing games this console generation. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning earns its spot alongside some of the already well established epic WRPGs such as the Mass Effect and Elder Scrolls series.
Starting right off Reckoning throws players into the world of Amalur without much explanation. A small cut-scene establishes that the player’s character is dead and ends with the character being alive through means that are initially a mystery. This beings the tutorial which will show players the general controls, prompt them to make choices about their characters (and tells you how to reverse said choices), and most importantly, begins to establish the game’s overall story. Bits and pieces of what happened are described to the player and they’re initially tasked with figuring that out. Reckoning’s main storyline is the game’s biggest focus and drags the player around the very colorful and very large world of Amalur. There are epic fights along the way as players unravel information about their character’s past and the world of Amalur in general. It is a fantastic ride that ends in one of the most fulfilling ways that I’ve encountered in a game in a long time, and the final hour or so of the main storyline quest is just effing awesome.
The game isn’t all main storyline quests though. I did mention something about open world aspects, right? Reckoning has a good bit of extra content outside the main questline. There are at least 5 quest chains for in-game factions, a very large amount of side quests, crafting, and some gathering for crafting. The faction quest chains are all pretty awesome. They’re about 12 quests long and all of them have stories that delve into Amalur’s rich background story. In addition to that, each faction quest chain ends in a decision that changes the world of Amalur either as a whole or for your character specifically. Aside from the faction quest chains, there are a plethora of side quests. These range from simple fetch quests to epic dungeon dives, a few also have effects on the game world similar to the end of action chain quests. All of the side quests are done really well and none of them feel like a chore. I, unfortunately, didn’t put a whole lot of time into the game’s crafting system (mostly because that sort of thing doesn’t really interest me), but I did mess around with the interface and made some basic junk from materials I found through my travels. The crafting system is pretty well designed overall and has a lot of depth to it for people that enjoy a well thought out crafting system. I’m not sure how the high level crafted items compare to items found in the world though.
Just a good story and writing won’t always make a great game though, there has to be good gameplay to accompany it. I’m glad to say that Reckoning delivers in this regard as well. Generally speaking I’m not a huge fan of hack-and-slash gameplay, but I really got into the combat of Reckoning. Chaining melee attack combos into magic spells into ranged attack combos felt awesome, and high tier abilities felt extremely destructive. I played most of the game as a pure mage character and in the latter half of the game when hordes of enemies are attacking it just felt great destroying them all with a barrage of spells. This may be one of the few games I’ve come across where mages are probably the most powerful characters. The stealth aspects of the game for the rogue characters was pretty awesome too. Stealth executions looked great and the whole stealth system was pretty good. Stealth characters are a little weaker in direct combat, but still a lot of fun. Strength based characters are just juggernauts that charge in and destroy stuff. I had the least amount of experience with Strength based characters though, as it wasn’t as interesting to me. The overall combat gameplay in Reckoning was fantastic. High tier abilities felt appropriately destructive and each class plays a lot differently.
So you probably noticed me talking about classes, abilities, tiers and other RPG stuff. Reckoning has a decent amount of RPG elements to it. There are large talent trees for Might, Finesse, and Sorcery which equate to Warrior, Rogue, and Mage respectively in common RPG speak. These talent trees work similarly to games like World of Warcraft, where points unlock abilities or unique traits for certain things. For example, each tree has an early talent that will increase damage by a certain % with that tree’s preferred weaponry and a high tier Sorcery talent, Meteor, is an area of effect spell that does a massive amount of damage. Additionally, when you spend points in talent trees you unlock Fate Path (AKA Classes) bonuses for that tree. For example, if you invest enough points in the Sorcery tree you’ll unlock the Seer path which gives you increased elemental damage and a few other unique traits.
How loot works in the game is also very RPG-esque. You can obtain items by completing quests, killing stuff, opening chests, and crafting. There are varying degrees of loot which are designated by color, as well as equipment sets that give you increased stats if you’re wearing multiple pieces of that set. Overall the RPG elements in Reckoning are well thought out and add customization to the overall experience. Nothing particularly innovative, but it is hard to fault it for that due to how well everything works.
The overall package of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is fantastic. The development team did a great job of fine tuning the experience to be one of the most polished and best playing western role-playing games on the market. If you’re a fan of fantasy RPGs there is nothing in this game that you won’t like. The huge amounts of content can easily suck players in for 100+ hours. If I had to fish for negatives (and I will have to in order to fill in the “big downs” section that we have in our reviews) I would say that it isn’t a particularly innovative title, which would ignore the fact that it does everything just as good, if not better than similar titles. Reckoning is a fantastic original IP from Big Huge Games, 38 Studios, and EA and will definitely be a contender for game of the year.