Sure, there is the obligatory memory loss, the gnomes that work underground, and the magical machine that brings back from the dead a hero upon whom the very fate of the world is resting. The groan of mediocrity and redundancy is beginning to lurch forth from my throat a mere 10 minutes in when, something rather mystical happens; Kingdoms of Amalur opens up like a giant, nerdy rpg-flower blooming in the moon glow.
There are quests to undertake, weapons to craft and enchant, plants of a myriad variety to uncover and mix with abandon. There are so many different weapon types and classes that I was actually a bit befuddled at the outset of the game and I am someone who cries foul anytime games are "dumbed down". Some of my very favorite games are complex, strategy laden RPG’s like Baldur’s Gate 2 Shadow of Amn, but this game is actually quite deep.
I am not going to delve into the story, that is not my purpose here, suffice it to say, the story is well thought out but quite clichéd in parts. In a high fantasy setting this is difficult to avoid, and I enjoyed the story thoroughly. The voice acting is well done and abundant, the quest lines for side missions are very well put together. There is an enourmous amount of content in this game, but, What I want to talk about, for would-be purchasers, or those on the fence, is the gameplay, the main reason we buy games in the first place.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning plays like a cross between Fable and God of War, quite honestly leaning a bit more toward God of War. This is a very good thing for a somewhat stat-based RPG where gear can become paramount in some cases. It is nice to be able to tank an area that is out of your level range based solely on skill. Very early in the game I wandered into a cave before going to the first village I was "supposed" to go to, but the explorer in me wanted to venture out into the wide world. I was, of course, instantly beset upon by a horde of raging nasty’s and began to run for the door, as I sprinted like a true coward, I noticed most of the beasts retreated back to the shadows and now only one was pursuing me. "Ah ha, persistent are we?" I said to the little bugger and proceeded to wail on him and dodge and block his attacks for quite a while and finally vanquished the little bastard for a healthy dose of xp. Much more xp than I had seen from any of the other 2 hit wonders on my normal path of the game.
I like that, I like that my skill and determination were able to afford me a victory over a foe I probably had no business fighting at level 1 or 2. This trend of letting you play the game the way you want continues throughout the game. Is it as expansive as Skyrim, no, not nearly, but it is also a different type of game, and this is a bit difficult to put into words but, dare I say, KOA (Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning gets a bit tiring to repeat over and over) is more fun.
That's just it, this game is immensely fun, the combat is fast, fluid, engaging. You roll, you block, you shoot a blazing ball of electricity that lights up your foes and chains to their comrades, you imbue your daggers with poison with the press of a button and begin draining your foes hp over time with deadly quick slashes. You mark 3 targets for death with a fire sign then detonate all 3 simultaneously. Then, you bring the big guns out, a giant Hammer that drains life and gives it to you. You charge up this towering monstrosity and spin whirlwind style around crushing all those in your path. As the corpses of your victims lay in various piles around you, you notice one little monster trying to tip-toe off into the foggy rolling hills behind you. "Not a chance buddy", you bring out your Bow of Frost and charge a shot to his back then dive roll into him with flaming daggers.
The above described is just one fight, just one way to dispatch your enemies with just a few, a tiny sample of the amazing amount of weapons in the game. This brings me to another point that I really like.
The gear; ahhhh gear....we love you so, us nerds that love stats and percentages and perks and sets. Anyone familiar with Diablo, World of Warcraft, heck even Borderlands fans will recognize the gear structure.
It basically goes like this;
Yellow/Gold=Part of a Set
-(thanks xPhearR3dx for correction)
Beyond just finding these awesome items in the 1,000's of chests,bodies of your foes and overturned carts, you can craft you own items, socket them with rare gems you also craft yourself (Sagecrafting). The game really has something for everyone if you like RPG's. You could also skip out on a lot of the quests (there are so many side quests it’s almost expect you'll skip a few) and not craft at all and just play through the main story and hope for the best. If you did that, I think you would truly be missing out on half of the fun. Personally, I listened to every story from every excellently voiced NPC, I made some of my favorite items with my own digital hands, and I feel like Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a game I will revisit again very soon.
Graphically the game does exactly what it intends to I believe (on pc at least, I have not seen the console versions), I never once saw the frames below 60 (with V-sync) and there was not a jaggy to be seen. The colors are vibrant and the entire vibe is that of a dreamy fantasy like world. I like that I feel almost like I'm on another planet, a whole new world. That said, the textures are not very high res, I think a bit more texture mapping could have gone a long way. The game borrows some of its aesthetic from World of Warcraft to be sure, but it looks like a newer version. The Witcher 2, this is not, but it is serviceable and appropriate for the game.
Sound quality is magnificent, beautiful and appropriate score with excellent 5.1 representations. The woods and fields felt alive as I slaughtered all who dwelled in them.
I cannot recommend this game enough to those who love RPG's but want the fun and magic back in them, the combat alone makes this game stand out from the many other choices you have in the genre. Give KOA a shot if you yearn for fast paced action backed up by a deep and engaging world and RPG mechanics.