Before I started up Kingdom of Amalur Reckoning, I was completely skeptical about what 38 studios was promising to bring to the table. Even though 38 studios was founded by Curt Schilling, a former Boston Red Sox’s pitcher. It has some impressive talent behind the game, which drew my interest towards the game. Ken Rolston, who is mostly known for being the lead designer for Elder Scrolls “Morrowind” and “Oblivion”. Todd Mcfalane, who was the creator of spawn and lastly R.A Salvatore, who is a well known scifi writer. This trio of talent dose many rights then wrongs, but it lacks a strong identity and the game suffers because of it.
One of the biggest reasons to get excited about Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is the combat. From the get go, KOA: Reckoning is easy to grasp. If you are a fan of various RPG’s like Dragon Age and Ninja Gaiden, then you are going to find familiar ground here. if you aren’t familiar with those games, it’s a fast paced button masher mixed with rpg elements.The controls are very lose and it only takes one button to inflict mass damage upon your opponent, but that’s not what is most impressive about the combat system.
If you prefer to play multiple play styles, then the combat system is flexible in just about every conceivable way. “Reckoning” doesn’t hide the fact on what it’s centered around as the box art clearly symbolizing what the game is all about. If you wanted to wield an bow and bring destructions to your opponent using an electric sword, then the game gives you that option. The game gives you every chance to be an ultimate badass with finishing moves, yes I said finish moves, that rival the classic arcade fighter. Impaling a giant beast with my lighting bolt, beating him to a pulp, then throwing him into a pit of fire was an in creditable feeling that I feel many will enjoy.
I played mostly as a mage in my 50-hour play through. Normally I would be tied down to my magic, but now I have many options deal out damage. Your primary attack button with all of your special combos is always going to be ‘x’, but what makes the combat system so intuitive is how equal secondary attacks are. You always have a devastating side arm with you, which speeds up the gameplay and always keep you in the grove of the game. As a mage I was able to be a powerful wizard and be powerful melee fighter at the same time thanks in part to how smartly the respec system is designed.
In most rpg’s , once you choose a play - style, you are stuck with your decision and their is no turning back. However in “Kingdoms of Amalur Reckoning”, I was never tied down by moves I made early in the game. I was given the chance to fix and change however your character plays like. It this freedom of reckoning that makes the combat system stand out from the rest. Now with saying, their is a few things that combat system struggles with.
While your traversing the world and slaughtering enemies, your combat equipment will eventually wear down over time. This wouldn’t have been a bad thing, if it didn’t happen all the time. Far too often my equipment would be rendered useless in mid battle, making normal opponents far more troublesome then they should be. A minor problem I came across was adequately defending myself. The only way you can defend yourself is by dodging or by blocking, but it just doesn't respond well. Depending on how you respec your character, blocking is rendered useless due to how much damage it dose to you. Dodging is the best means of defending yourself, but it tends to react late. These problems are still very minor and didn’t get in the way of the awesome gameplay.
So you might be wondering? What is the setting surrounding “Kingdoms of Amalur”, well it’s big and expansive. If you are a consumer who is worried about getting their money’s worth, then this is right up your alley. They are dozens of races in the game that you will come across. For the most part the races are a mixed bag, some are creative and some are just straight up generic.
From the get go after you finish the tutorial, the game becomes like a normal mmorpg. Side quests will open to you periodically as you continue to further explore the world. Some side quests will demand your attention, but will be well worth it due to items you receive. For the most part, I prefer the side quests in the game, just because how linear and un thought out they are.
The main storyline is frankly the most disappointing thing about the game. Reckoning is the first attempt to create the “Kingdoms of Amalur” universe, but it fails to grab your attention. While most rpg’s have a morality system, “Reckoning” decides to go in a completely different route. You have the power to choose your own destiny. The more times you level up, you will unlock more tier’s in the game, making your character more and more powerful. This is a great idea, but it needs more work. If you chose a certain play style, then your actions will pre – determine your fate and locking you into a pre determine ending. Simply put, unlike Curt Schilling 2007 Boston Red Sox’s, “Kingdoms of Amalur” won’t hold your attention for long after you lose interest in the combat.
On the presentation front, the game boosts some great presentation values. The highlight of the package is the outstanding music score in the game. Composed by Grant Kirkhope, who was you might heard his work in “Viva Pinata” and “Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts”. This is his first music score for rpg game and he knocks it out of the park. Traveling the world was a sheer joy because of how rich and heroic the music sounds. Everywhere I went, I was greeted with a new theme that instantly set the mood and made me explore the world more. Graphically, it’s a hit and miss however.
“Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning ” draws a familiar art style that was previously used in the fable games and while it might be a old look, it still holds up. There are very little load times in the game, which is something to be said due how big in scale the world is. I never had to wait for something to load or texture to re – render so I could continue. Not once did I experience one crash, a dip in frame rate or lost of saves. It's a very smooth game from start to finish at launch.
Overall, “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning” is good, but not a great game. If the story was better than 38 studios might have had a hit on its hands. The biggest mistake they made was simply putting to many big names on one project. Traveling the kingdom is one thing, but they never figured out how to tell a story. The game is going in so many direction that it never figures out it’s own identity.
Yes it wants to be a single player mmorpg, but like most it never tells a story (with the exception of swtor). R.A Salvatore work goes completely un noticed and the game suffers. In the industry when rpg’s are at the pinnacle of game design. “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning” doesn’t do enough to separate it’s self from the competition and will quickly be forgettable as time moves along.
Score: 8 out of 10 read