Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Kingdoms of Amalur, Reckoning – Game Review

When I first got my copy of “Kingdoms of Amalur, Reckoning” I honestly wasn’t excited. As a person who thinks of himself as a “gaming veteran” I believed that the peak of RPG games was reached when the MMORPG concept was utilized to good extent (firstly) by games such as “WOW”, “Guild Wars” and then others of the genre.

"...my copy of 'Kingdoms of Amalur, Reckoning'..."
Along came “Mass Effect”, a game that shook gamers reality with its story and gameplay and it became the best RPG game some would say ever created while other will say best in the last decade… I will let you decide about that when the upcoming reviews of the “ME” series will be released.

With that in mind, I installed “Kingdoms of Amalur, Reckoning” and I was prepared to be disappointed as is usually the case with the latest RPG’s I have tested.

Boy was I in for a surprise…

"...what a way to kick start a game, aye?"
The beginning:

First off, “Reckoning” tries really hard to grab you from the moment you launch the game, taking the “character creation” a little further as you first see the opening movie telling the history of the current conflict in the kingdoms of Amalur, and the grim overall feeling that the “player’s” side is fighting a losing battle.
The opening movie ends up with you dying… which is a turning event in the fabric of the game world (And what a way to kick start a game, aye?).
Only now, when two NPC’s are walking with a corpse on a wheelbarrow, starting to catalog the covered body in their notes the player is able to create his/her character.
The player will need to choose from 4 available races that together form the only line of defense the kingdoms have against the evil Fae:

The Almain and the Varani, two human races, the Almain are the civilized, cultured and honorable side of the equation while the Varani are the wanderers, traders and mercenaries who have no kingdom to call their own.

From left to right: Dokkalfar, Ljosalfar, Almain and Varani.
The Ljosalfar and the Dokkalfar, two elven races, The Ljosalfar (the light elves) are the regal, steadfast and uncompromising who will not accept change and who will protect the lands no matter the price while the Dokkalafar (the dark elves) are mostly regarded for their magic, diplomacy and charisma (seductive manner). They mostly work behind the scenes pulling strings and promoting actions of others.

Each race starts with its own unique set of bonuses in several skills ranging from “Blacksmithing” to “Lock-picking”, “Persuasion”, “Stealth” and more.

Once a race was chosen the player is then able to customize the look of the character and once the look was completed and a short cut-scene was played the player will name the character.

Once the character is ready you start playing, waking up surrounded by hundreds of bodies inside a shaking cave, wondering “What the hell is going on?”

At this point I will stop and just take off my hat and eat it, for when the game finally starts at this point, you are unable to pull your eyes away from the amazing graphics that is the work of the Genius Todd McFarlane, mostly known for his Spawn comic books and toys. You are all advised to go and explore the amazing world of Amalur for its gorgeous and brilliant environment.

Adessa, the center of gnomish civilization in the Faelands
Court of Summer, the seat of High King Titarion.

"Now look at the sword, now back to me again... What do you think is going to happen?"
As you begin the entire first section of the game is a tutorial, teaching you everything from the basics such as movement and fighting, equipping yourself with items, casting spells and my own favorite, Backstabbing unsuspecting adversaries.

Once you complete the first section of the game you already feel as if you played the game for several years, controlling each action of your character to perfection (sometimes causing you to think you can kill mobs that for lack of a better way to say it, “Wipe the floor” with your character).

In addition to the easy and intuitive controls the game brings a different line of thinking regarding the all “classes” dilemma that holds each player when he/she is creating his/her character.
In “Reckoning” due to the way the character was created (I won’t destroy the story, you will have to play and see for yourselves) the character can learn abilities from three different class branches: Might (Fighter), Finesse (Rouge) and Sorcery (You can figure it out).

"...my own favorite, Backstabbing unsuspecting adversaries."
With each level you gain you are able to distribute three points to whichever branches you choose, making your character either a pure class (Might, Finesse, and Sorcery) or a mixed one.
At this point you will be exposed to the “Destinies” system. What this system means, put simply, is that each class you choose has several ‘levels’ of progress represented by “destiny cards” that become available for you when you invest enough points in each or several class branches.
For example: from the moment you reach level 1 and distribute your first three points you have access to the “Fighter” destiny first card called “Brawler”, providing you if you choose it with bonuses to your defense and endurance.  Once you invested 11 points in the “Might” branch abilities the next “Fighter” destiny card will be available for you to choose and receive its bonuses.

Important note: The best thing about these destinies, abilities and skills is that you are able to “re-spec” your points at any given time by going to a “Fateweaver” NPC and paying him to change your fate, giving you the option to experiment with different combinations until finding the one you love the most.

Another interesting feature in “Reckoning” is the “Lock Picking” mechanism.
I have played a lot of games, but the fun and edgy feeling I get when picking a locked chest by holding the pick while trying to open the lock mechanism, moving the pick to the right angle for it not to break while the lock gets opened… I just love it!

"...moving the pick to the right angle for it not to break while the lock gets opened… I just love it! "
There are many more great features that make “Reckoning” an amazing game, from its intuitive battle system to being able to craft items and potions. And it’s a HUGE(!) and I do mean HUGE(!) open world for you to freely explore.
But I will leave a little for you to find out yourselves, after all this is just a review and not a full recap.

At this time I think it’s only fair to bow down my head and admit that “Kingdoms of Amalur, Reckoning” joined “Mass Effect” in my private “Pantheon” of games I will always want to play again, and again, and again (…), each time doing something a little differently.

 "...a HUGE(!) and I do mean HUGE(!) open world for you to freely explore. "
For those of you who might want to know about the game, here is the link to the game’s official website.

The Good: Can’t count it all…

The Bad: Sometimes, but only sometimes, the main plot of the game is overshadowed by the side quests, causing you to lose your focus… but that’s the only thing I found.

Total Score: 9.5/10



Gabriel said...

Good to know you liked this game Cos' I got some mixed reviews and didn't even try it on for my self.
Now I think the weekend will be a "Reckoning one"

Thank you for yet another great honest review.

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