Ever since EA and Curt Schilling’s 38 Studios revealed Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, I have been excited for the game. It looked like the blend of action based combat and RPG elements that I had been looking for. When the developers were quoted as saying that the game packed in 200 hours of content (and that’s skipping all of the dialog), well, that made the wait even harder. Now that the game is finally in our hands, let’s see how many of those hours are worth it.
You start the game off as a dead person. Yes, you died, but a special machine called the Well of Souls has brought you back to life as a clean slate. You see, every living thing in the world of Amalur has a destiny that fate has planned for them. Since you died and have come back to life, your destiny is nowhere to be found. This makes you very special and a very important person in the grand scale of what’s going on in the world.
The game is a mixture of action RPG, full on RPG, and MMO RPG. That’s a lot of RPG, but this is a lot of game. The game has a robust skill tree for 3 different skill sets: Might, Magic and Finesse. Putting points into these trees will grant you new abilities, stronger attributes and passive effects. The great thing about it all, is that you’re never locked into one class. If you want to go Might and Magic, you most certainly can, in fact, if you do, the game actually has setups for you to use called Destinies. Destinies will give you better stats depending on which you select. You can combine all three “classes” to create your own, custom play style. It’s both versatile and deep. The best part is, if you get tired of playing a certain way, you can always respec for the cost of a little gold.
What really sets the game apart from most action RPGs, is the combat. The combat leans more toward action than anything else. Of course, there is a lot of stat tracking going on in the background that still gives the combat an RPG feel. Every attack is mapped to one button, so if you’re using a long sword for physical attacks, how you press the button will determine how the attack will come out. It all depends on the timing and number of attacks you want to throw out. You can have two weapons equipped at once. Each weapon has its own attack pattern, and your skill point placement determines what you can do with each. For instance, if my main weapon is a pair of daggers and my secondary weapon is a magic staff with ice powers, I can freeze my enemy, and then quickly stab him with my daggers simply by combining two button presses.
There’s a dodge mechanic for getting out of hairy situations, and your special powers and magic are mapped to the face buttons. They can be used at anytime by holding the right trigger and pressing the corresponding button. One really nice feature is Reckoning Mode. You have a bar the fills up when you attack enemies. When it is full, you can pull both triggers and activate Reckoning Mode. In this mode, time slows down and your attacks do massive damage. Attacking a group of enemies and killing them will result in them falling to their knees. After taking all of them out, run up to one and you can perform a special attack that will have you rapidly tapping a button. If you hit it enough times, you will gain 100% more experience points for every enemy you killed in Reckoning Mode. The combat is satisfying, brutal and customizable so you can experiment with many different setups. It’ll keep you busy for hours on end.
The loot whores will love this game. Everywhere you go, you find new equipment and weapons to equip. Much like other RPGs, stats and abilities go into what you have equipped. The standard RPG elements apply to the equipment in Amalur: Matching sets of armor provide better stats, enchanted weapons deal additional damage, etc. The customization doesn’t end at your skill trees. Weapons and armor can be tweaked through blacksmithing and sagecrafting. You can create gems to slot in equipment for additional effects or craft your very own weapons using ingredients and pieces. There is also an alchemy ability allowing you to create potions using reagents found around the world. The game has so much to do in it outside of any questing.
The MMO aspects of the game that I mentioned before really come in the form of the quests you take on and how you complete them. When I say there’s a lot to do in Amalur, there is a so much that it’s scary. The main story quest is always there and has some very interesting tasks and set pieces that will keep you entertained for many hours. There are also multiple factions you can join that have some interesting quest lines. Of course, when you think MMO, you think of side quests and tasks to complete. Well, Amalur is full of them. This is not an exaggeration. When the developers said 200 hours to complete them all, they were not kidding. In fact, this is one of the few problems I had with the game. There are so many side quests that if you just focus on them, you will get rather bored. Don’t get me wrong, there are some side quests that have some interesting back stories to them, but more times than not, you will do a side quest that has you gathering X items, or killing Y enemies. The problem is, when you do those quests, the rewards are relatively insubstantial. You seem to get more gold, better loot, and more experience for the bigger quests that the factions and main storyline have to offer.
The visuals are stunning. The world is massive and you can tell a lot of time and effort were put into making Amalur feel unique. The colorful environments really pop and the characters and overall look of the game fit well with what the game is trying to accomplish. Amazingly enough, the game is open world and I never had a single “open world” bug or glitch. It’s really well made.
The story and lore itself is as massive as the world. If you let yourself get caught up in it, you will get a lot out of it. Books are scattered throughout the game that offer up even more back story, and many quests and dialog options will help you understand the underpinnings of Amalur’s culture that much more. For some, that’s an afterthought, but for a big fantasy fan like me, I loved all of it. There really is a ton to learn about the world of Amalur.
For what it’s worth, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is an amazing game. I can’t suggest it enough. RPG fans will fall in love with the customization of both your character and equipment, action fans will love the thought out combat and fantasy fans will love the lore and story. There’s really something here for everyone, so much so that you may be put off by it all. I would say stick to the factions and main story quest lines if you start getting a little bored with the side quests. Even just doing those will give you over 25 hours of game play. For $60 you get a lot of game with Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. Is that game good? Absolutely.
Review copy of the game provided by publisher. Primary play on Xbox 360.