Review: Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

So another RPG hot on the heels of Skyrim.  When I got given Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, from developers Big Huge Games, I was not really holding out much hope due to the fact that it would take a lot to knock the crown off Skyrim, so with some trepidation I sat down and started to play it. The polish on this game is amazing, from the moment the intro started to play. But for me any RPG worth its salt is tested in the character creation, and I was not disappointed. It was all done within the intro to the game which I really liked.  It’s the same sort of thing they did in the first Halo, with checking the movement and such like. As I played more and started to understand what I was doing and understanding the story, the game really started to grow on me and it compelled me to play more.

Questing in the game is not really a problem.  Like most RPGs, you have your quest hubs for the main quest line, but you also have side quests, and there are a lot in this game. The first town I made it to had a really good amount of side quests for the first section. Some of the quests are very generic RPG quests but they’re wrapped up in a modern way, so even an established RPGer will not get bored. As I quested I didn’t find myself getting disinterested like I have done in the past with other games like this.  Normally I find as I play through an RPG the quests will repeat themselves, I’m sure some developers think we’re mindless drones and will not notice. Newsflash: we do! I found the quests within Reckoning flowed nicely and I did never got that feeling of rinse and repeat, either that or I am a mindless drone and the developers have won this round!

Crafting is a big part of any RPG and again I found the system in Reckoning very simple and well done.  Put simply they have a salvage system where you can strip your old armour and weapons for usable parts, which can then be used to make newer, better, more shiny items. Armour can have gem slots, which let you add extra damage or resistances to certain things. There is also gem crafting and herbalism. Herbalism is a great way to make potions to heal yourself or give yourself resistances to other types of damage and death among other things. Gem crafting is really what it says on the tin: it lets you make pretty gems to embed into your armour and weapons, this in turn gives you bonuses to some of your stats.  I’ve always liked this kind of thing in RPGs, it just gives you that freedom to tailor-make your character. As well as all this you also get experience points.  The levelling system is not really any different to what you get in most MMOs and RPGs; you complete quests and you get XP, huzzah!  If you kill the bad guys you get XP, huzzah!  Once you reach the next level you get stat upgrades as well as ability points to spend.

Graphics in the Reckoning are amazing.  I found myself just walking around for ages, forgetting the quests and exploring the map.  The landscape is great, you can be walking around a woodland grove and then next you can be in the depths of a dungeon.  The textures and detail to everything you see in this world again are amazing. If you have ever seen World of Warcraft that’s the sort of art design style this game has, but with a far better graphics engine. Weapons are not to be left out, the style and look of the weapons look as if they could be real. Don’t get me wrong there are the oversized war-hammers that you can pick up, but still they look great.  It’s also worth mentioning spell effects, which look how you would expect them to look, and again they feel like they would do some damage if they were real.  Letting off lightning bolts to obliterate your enemy is a great way to see the engine in full effect, and gives you a great sense of satisfaction watching your enemy sizzle.

Talking of obliterating your enemy, I have to say the combat system is great.  It’s not overly complicated and everything is where you think it should be.  Pressing one button will switch you from your melee weapon to your ranged weapon.  Holding down two buttons and pushing in a direction will fire a spell – Boom!  I really enjoyed how well the combat system flowed.  When you’re in combat you get that ‘I’m a great hero’ feeling,  as you shoot them from a distance and they get closer, you switch to your sword and finally charge them down or use your staff to turn your enemies into ash.

Another feature I really liked is the ability to (kind of) duel class.  My character was a warrior but I backed him up with magic, becoming a battle mage, if you will. The game gives you a lot of things to play with; I really enjoy having the feel of freedom in a game, especially an RPG game.

Overall Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a great game.  It takes some of the things from other RPGs and gives them its own twists, which I really like. If you enjoyed Skyrim, and you still want your RPG fix, Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning is the game for you.  It’s a classic RPG game, with a modern look and Big Huge Games did a great job.

Reviewed on Xbox 360

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