Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Review for PC

On: PCXbox 360PS3

An epic, open-world role-playing game set in Amalur, a mysterious and magical new fantasy world.

Review Verdict Read Review
8Out of 10
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Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning screenshot
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning screenshot

The conceit of fate continues straight to the belly of the game in the shape of Reckoning Mode - the title's heavy-duty time dilation ability that has you "unravel" the destinies of enemies when fully charged.

Similarly, Amalur's emphasis on flexibility means crafting allows for old armour to be broken down and recycled into constituent parts to be reused for new designs if you ever decide to see a Fateweaver to reset your ability trees and have another pop with a different style of character.

Each zone has its own role call of fauna, ranging from ogres to variations on traditional supernatural fare like goblins. The wildlife is more fantastical than what you stumbled across in Skyrim, but there's still a degree of naturalism to the world of Reckoning when you spot certain species fighting against each other on road sides as if battling for territory.

This all combines to make up a main quest line that lasts over 25 hours, and Reckoning is bolstered further with hundreds of side and faction quests.

Still, somehow despite all this life the various kingdoms of Amalur are largely characterless. There's a pervasive sense of impersonality to the world: NPCs are wooden and strange, often unblinking and corpse-like during cutscenes. Their conversations can seem awkward in the context of the scene - my ageing, moustachioed hero has been referred to as "young one" enough times to baffle. Reckoning is more Westworld than Skyrim, a game that can feel more automaton than lifelike.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning screenshot

While Todd McFarlane's work as art director helps provide some limited level of comic gore and style to the fight sequences, overall Reckoning still seems to hearken back to an all-too familiar art direction particular to Blizzard, with its palette of primary colours, vaguely cartoon style, and even quest hubs and exclamatory markers that wouldn't look out of place in World of Warcraft. Add into this some basic BioWare-styled conversation wheels and you begin to get an idea of the difficulty of seeing the essence of Reckoning through its myriad slate of references.

Look deep enough and the spirit is there, however, with a mix of mechanics and lore that successfully ties Reckoning's ruminations on fate to the workings of the genre.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning's wholly undiluted overview of Western RPGs often amounts to a beige concoction of a thousand blended fantasy worlds, but it's also a testament to 38 Studio's inherent knowledge of the genre. It's a workmanlike interpretation of what makes an RPG tick, placing a spotlight on all the right mechanics and features that most titles struggle to perfect. Regardless of the game's bland exterior, Reckoning is considerably well crafted.

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FantasyMeister's Avatar

FantasyMeister@ Wido

First dungeon on the right? Tick it off the list, although I'll be venturing back there later as I'm going the Detect Hidden skill route so can check it for hidden doors as well as logs and rockpiles.
Posted 08:06 on 11 February 2012
Wido's Avatar

Wido@ FantasyMeister

Played the game earlier with Clockpunk in the party who was playing MGS2 at the time. Already amassed 2hrs on it thus far. Wearing my Shepard's N7 armour and heading down the Mage/Warrior route like I did in the demo. The gameplay is very well balanced and I like the quick access of going between all classes, offering you those safety nets against the enemies on the screen. I can see KoA being in the Xbox more than the other games I am playing at the moment this weekend.

FM, did you go into the first mine after the first part of the game? A Static bow with 20 damage + additional damage. Tough enemies in the mine by the way, but easily killed when you drag 1 or 2 away from the packs. A Iron Longsword can also be found, so it can get rid of the Rusty Longsword you get in the first part. Saying all that however... Seeing as you are 5hrs in, I guess you have? :laugh:
Posted 23:42 on 10 February 2012
FantasyMeister's Avatar

FantasyMeister

I'm 5h 31m in and haven't really touched the main quest yet, I'm getting distracted by the exploration - fog of war in particular is really well implemented encouraging further discoveries - and I've got a whole bunch of quick travel locations opened up that I've yet to delve into.

Very pleased to have this in my collection, got my money's worth for sure and should be playing this for a few weeks to come.
Posted 21:47 on 10 February 2012
Darkr8zor's Avatar

Darkr8zor

Can you play a gnome in this? *crosses fingers*
Posted 21:41 on 07 February 2012
Wido's Avatar

Wido

Good read Emily. Have a bottle of red wine or Jagermeister on me, as this review has made me want to buy the game.
Posted 19:13 on 07 February 2012
Clockpunk's Avatar

Clockpunk

Damn it! I posted a reply an hour ago, but the forums seem to have eaten it! :-/

To paraphrase - I feared the setting was rather bland with no distinctive setting characteristics - precisely why I am highly anticipating Risen 2: Dark Waters despite its questionable lineage... much more so than this.

I shall give the demo another run through as a female character, but... well, I didn't have any hopes of being a 'convert', and given the importance of a setting having a unique spark - which seems to be lacking here - I can't see it happening.
Posted 18:55 on 07 February 2012
andyb2610's Avatar

andyb2610

A good read Emily, but think I will wait for this to drop in price as still engrossed in Skyrim with ME 3 almost here too.
Posted 17:32 on 07 February 2012
Endless's Avatar

Endless

Well if WoW is proof that with in enough polish you can actually buff anything to a shine then this should do fine! If it turns out to be a sleeper-ish hit like Darksiders that'll make it more than worth playing!
Posted 13:00 on 07 February 2012
MrGloomy's Avatar

MrGloomy

Good review (as ever). I'm looking forward to Reckoning quite a bit as it's refreshing to have a new IP, even though it might be treading the same tropes of other well established rpg's. I hope Reckoning does well with it's sales, as that's what seems to be more important these days.

I really admired Vigil Games' approach to Darksiders, and I get a similar vibe with 38 Studios approach to Reckoning, with it's use of tried and tested rpg mechanics. Good luck 38 Studios and well done for trying to meld free-flowing combat with old-school rpg-ing. I can happily say that I can trade in my MW3 without a single regret. Problem now, is that I'm still plowing through Skyrim without a hint of boredom.
Posted 12:48 on 07 February 2012

Game Stats

System Requirements
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
8
Out of 10
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
  • Massive explorable environment
  • A thorough knowledge of the genre
  • Struggles to develop its own identity
  • Highly cliche’d
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Release Date: 10/02/2012
Platforms: PC , Xbox 360 , PS3
Developer: 38 Studios
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: RPG
No. Players: One
Rating: BBFC 18
Site Rank: 371 37
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