Were you expecting more Pokťmon? I bet you were expecting more Pokťmon. Well, itís not quite that. Make no mistake, Iím still massively addicted to cramming elemental warriors in tiny balls to have them slavishly obey my every order, but another game came around that got me at least just as addicted.
That game is Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.
For those of you who missed it, last week this game was on sale on Steam, for the first time in fuck if I know how long (not to mention that Iím not even sure who has the rights to this game anymore; who authorized this?). †Now Iím normally not into WRPGs for a number of reasons. Nonetheless, I had been waiting for this game to go on sale for the longest time. Why? Because if the things I had heard were right, Kingdoms of Amalur would be a WRPG unlike any of its kind, one that fixes the greatest problem I tend to have with the genre.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a WRPG where the combat is NOT SHIT.
Donít get me wrong here, Iím not faulting anyone for liking WRPGs as a genre, but you canít honestly tell me that the combat is the highlight in most WRPGs. Sure, Skyrim is probably great for its huge world, massive number of sidequests and all the customization options, but its combat? Not so much. Tried some of The Witcher and Divinity II: both have the same problem. Theyíre probably good, but definitely not for their combat. Fable, Gothic? Same deal, as far as I know. The only exceptions I can think of are Mass Effect, Fallout and Borderlands, but thatís cheating because they stole all the good parts from shooters anyway. †
So basically, Kingdoms was the one WRPG I was waiting for, and boy did it pay off. In fact, this game went further in making its combat satisfying than even I had thought it would.
You see, if and when I play RPGs, I like to be a Mage character. Thereís just something about slinging fireballs and lightning bolts around thatís incredibly satisfying to me, at least much more so than any sword. There is one problem with most Mages, however: itís all fun and games until an enemy gets all up in your grill. And they will come all up in your grill because thereís no way youíre going to have enough mana to take out an enemy horde before it gets to you, and thatís not even taking into account Cooldown time. At such a time, youíre stuck bashing peopleís head in with your staff, a tactic that is usually only slightly more effective than politely asking them to leave.
Not so in Kingdoms of Amalur. In this game, Mages and Rogues can fight on equal terms with any Warrior, albeit using different weaponry and being less durable. Magesí staves, for instance, arenít simply for bashing peopleís heads in anymore. In this game, each staff has an elemental effect that has great spread and range and can do a significant amount of damage. Itís definitely not second best to a sword or axe anymore. Second there are scepters, which are your ranged weapons of choice (unless you do something rather unique, which Iíll come to later). Finally, there are the chakrams, and these things are fucking rad is what they are. Basically, theyíre magical ringshaped blades that you throw in front of you to make what may as well be a whirlwind of sharp metal. Itís hard to describe, but take my word for it that theyíre cool as all hell. Which, obviously, is why Iím using them.
But Kingdoms allows you to go further than even that. It is no doubt common in WRPGs that you can mix and match skills and abilities in any way you desire. You can buff your Mage or make your Warrior faster. In Kingdoms, however, you can indulge in any class combination you desire; you wouldnít simply be making a slightly faster Mage anymore, youíre making a full-on Rogue/Mage who is equally skilled in sticking a knife up some dudeís backside as in making him explode with his mind. This mechanic opens up some neat possibilities that other games donít usually have. I mean, in how many games can you be a Rogue/Mage or Warrior/Rogue?
Myself, I went with a Rogue/Mage build, with an ever so slight emphasis on Mage. Iím investing rather heavily in Rogueish bow-based skills, because BOWS, and in the Mageís spells and Chakram damage. By now, what usually happens to the enemy is the following: I see him from a distance, pump his ass full of arrows (thereby also poisoning him), hitting him with some magic, and should he have the strength left to get anywhere near me killing him with the Chakrams. Chakram combat is really fast, and combine that with some shortrange teleports and the enemy wonít even know where to look half the time. I love it.
Iím officially dubbing this class the Swiftmage, because they're fast buggers who'll kill you before you even get a lock on them. I donít care what the game says itís called. I also know that name sucks, but then there's nothing you can do to stop me, is there?
Finally, as for the story there isnít much to say yet. Iím not all that far into the story yet, being sidetracked by OCD sidequests all the time, but I liked what I saw so far. At least the basic premise of the game; that everyoneís fates are already set in stone except yours, is very promising. As "the Fateless", it allows you to do things other people couldnít ever do, and it allows you to mess with the story to save people from their foretold death or killing them when they shouldíve lived. You not only get to save lives, you get to give people lives they never shouldíve had. Iím not sure if this will be explored further later on, but it has promise in spades. I hope it pays off.
I did encounter a weird little thing in the story though, although I admit that it was technically my own fault. You see, very early in the game you meet a mysterious Dark Elf Dokkalfar, who has ďplot-relevantĒ written on her forehead (well, that and ďfanserviceĒ). The thing is though, by sheer happenstance, this woman looks EXACTLY LIKE MY CHARACTER. That is to say, the character I made in the Editor at the start of the game is just...HER.
I mean, really look at us!
If I lost the bitchiní facial tattoo and like five layers of clothing Iíd BE HER.
Of course, the game expects me not to notice anything, and how could it do anything else? Alyn Shir seems to be made up off the same Character Editor parts as I am, and I just so happen to have chosen exactly the same ones for my character as the devs did for theirs.
Apparently me and the Kingdoms devs have an eerily similar taste in Elf women. I donít know if I should find that disturbing or strangely reassuring.
- Oh, and then there's these guys. There's not much to tell about them as of yet, but I may have kinda sorta accidentally/deliberately killed a bunch of them to become their queen. I swear that wasn't my fault.