Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

  • Released on Feb 7, 2012
  • By 38 Studios for PC, PS3, Xbox 360

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning review
I'll determine your fate by being your errand boy


The Introduction:
Whenever a new WRPG is released that I'm even remotely interested in, I make sure that I have enough time to actually play through a significant portion of it – there are huge worlds contained in these games that need exploration, and through this, I will be sucked into it and the next time I blink, it'll be too-late-to-go-to-work o'clock. Sadly, that's not the case with this one. Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning is a single player MMORPG that puts in no effort to absorb the player into its world. Instead, it does everything in its power to keep you out. No, it isn't a terrible game; it is just a mediocre game with a non-existent story and a shallow combat system.

The Story:
You start the game dead, but through an experiment, you're brought back to life, albeit with a different soul. You learn that not only do you have no fate due to this, but can also determine the fate of others around you. To give you some conflict, a faction of another race known as the Tuatha are hunting you down. Sadly, I can't say for sure if there was a story beyond this, as all it really became was a vehicle for various quests... yes, you can say that for many games, but many games at least made an effort to give the story some prescense; this game tosses it aside until the next cutscene. Not to mention, the dialogue is terrible, feeling rather wooden and having the capacity to turn you off the story. It's a shame, because the premise had the capacity to work itself into a decently captivating story.

The Graphics:
I've found the graphics to be hit and miss. Where it misses the mark is in the technicals – it looks like a launch game for the Xbox 360, with textures looking somewhat flat and the characters looking like they're missing a few vital polygons. It's tricky to describe the latter, but let's just say that they look a little goofy, and not for the right reason, plus the lip syncing is on par with a PS2 JRPG (read: bad). Where it hits the ball is in the aesthetics – it's a colorful world, full of whimsy and wonder. The designs, despite being a few polygons short of looking good close up, are quite creative. Sure, you have some stock standard wolves, bears and giant spiders, but between the way each of the races look, to the monsters that exercise more creativty, and to the way each segment of the world looks, I'd say that it certainly has the aesthetics down. Shame it looks outdated.

The Sound:
If I felt like it, I could easily skip this section because there is nothing noteworthy about the sound design... the soundtrack is extremely unremarkable. Perhaps it's trying to be epic, perhaps it's trying to feel like a light hearted fantasy... I wouldn't be too sure as it has absolutely no presence in the game. It feels as if it's just there to provide some sound that doesn't consist of sword swings and hits. As for the voice acting, it has a certain amount of fantasy charm to it, opting for some characitures and somewhat exaggerated voice acting as opposed to more realistic voice acting, but it just feels like they're not really into it... as if they just want EA to pay them handsomely. Don't really care.

The Gameplay:
Like any WRPG, the world is your oyster, so long as you put in the effort to roam around to find villages and anything else that'd be of interest, then talk to the locals that have an exclamation point above their heads to start a series of quests. Since exploration isn't something that you can get yourself absorbed into, I'll skip straight to the quests – blech. The majority of the quests that you're given consist of you fetching an item or more. Now, this wouldn't be so bad, except for the part where that is what the majority of sidequests consist of. Oh yes, according to Big Huge Games (or maybe EA?), fetch quests are all the rage, despite the fact that all you're really doing is raiding various dungeons for items that don't have much use outside of the quests, only to end up going back to the person who asked you to do the quest (thank god you can access the map and click on a town you've already visited to automatically arrive in it) and get rewarded with some equipment and gold. It doesn't help that this is where the game is at its most apathetic – it's like it doesn't give a shit, so why should we? Exactly!

Thankfully, the main quest doesn't suffer for an overabundance of playing errand boy... oh, you still go through dungeons, but not to loot any items; it's to defeat the various bosses. This is where the combat is the star of the show, and oh boy, is it ever so... underwhelming. Most of the time is spent mashing the attack button, sometimes mixing it up with different timing and sometimes using magic attacks, but The Witcher, this is not, for strategy is hardly a necessity beyond combo and run, nor do the enemies do much more than one or two attacks.

Before anybody says that “this is how hack and slash games go” - no, absolutely not. Maybe the bad and mediocre ones like the God Of War series, but not the good ones like Ninja Gaiden or The Witcher. A good hack and slash game would give the bosses a slightly larger arsenal of attacks and you more combos. This is basically “mash the button over and over again”. Combat goes from fun to generic within the first few hours due to this and no amount of mostly-interchangable spells and Reckoning modes (where you slow down time and kill enemies easier, only to end up mashing a button to multiply your XP) will change that. Another case of style over substance.

I suppose if this game does anything well, it's the role playing itself. Since you're basically a soul possessing a previously discarded body, it makes sense to be put on a clean slate. As you level up, you can put points into weapon classes such as various swords and staffs, and then put some into passive skills such as thievery and alchemy. This at least gives it a fair amount of variety, but if this is all that's done well... at least they got the role playing part well. I can't say that they got to the game part too well, though.

The Stats:
Story: It has an interesting enough premise, but between the poor dialogue and near total inexistence of it even during the main quest, it annoys me. This isn't an 8-bit platformer; it's an RPG! 2/5
Graphics: Although it looks like a launch game for the Xbox 360, the art style makes up for it and looks rather nice. 4/5
Sound: I can't tell if the voice acting is charming or just average. The soundtrack is not terrible, but nothing great either. 2/5
Gameplay: Between constant fetch quests and mediocre combat, all it ends up doing is making you want to play a better game in this genre, like The Witcher. It's playable and the combat does have potential, but that's all. 5/10

The Conclusion:
Most people who negatively assess this game play the tired old “repetition” card, which always felt like another way of saying “I just don't want to like this game so here's a buzzword I can use so nobody nags me”. You want legitimate reasons? Well, let's put it this way – you know why World Of Warcraft is still so popular today? Because despite being a game where you just loot items from dungeons, it allows you to do it with friends. Take away the social aspect, and you'd have Kingoms Of Amalur: Reckoning, a game that's lacking in anything that stands out a notch above or even below mediocrity, besides the colorful world and poor story. It's a reasonable time waster, but if you have the money, buy a game that has more substance to it, or heck, go buy some illegal substances – it'll be worth more to you than this game.

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