The anticipation for Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning has been high for quite some time. In that time, players heard about the wide open world of endless quests and incredible story-telling with combat based action to rival other big name fantasy games. So does Reckoning live up to all the hype?
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning will no doubt be compared to other games, most notably Skyrim, and rightfully so. It has many aspects seen before and will be seen again. The question then is, what does Reckoning deliver to make it stand out from the shadows of other successful RPGs.
Reckoning delivers on its promise of an immense landscape for exploration. Viewing the map alone instills a feeling of dread as you discover that your life is about to lose many hours to this game. Reckoning rivals Skyrim’s expansive world and few will be disappointed by the vast amount of area to explore.
The entire world is extremely colorful. The best comparison I can make is to the movie Avatar. If you found the brightness and overall colorful look of Avatar appealing, then you’ll unquestionably enjoy the visual aspect of Reckoning.
There are 4 different character types, each with their own benefits. Both male and female characters are available for creation and each goes through a detailed physical customization when the journey begins. One thing that I typically gripe about is lack of expression when characters interact with others in the game. Reckoning is no different, the same ‘staring into space’ look on character’s faces is present here.
As the game progresses, characters will align themselves with different skillsets which help develop them into a player’s desired class type. Though players choose a path for their character, they aren’t bound to that path for life. Along the way, characters can be adjusted to fit a different style or combine classes to make something unique. Reckoning is very liberal in terms of manipulating the character progression, so rogues can move towards sorcery or warriors can focus on stealth, it’s all up to the player.
The skill-trees are huge. There are more than enough skills to keep anyone busy for dozens of hours. As is typical with these types of games, skills are learned through spending points awarded during gameplay. Specialized skills for each class are separated to simplify the process and thorough explanations for each skill are provided. I’m especially pleased with the explanations given for skills. Generally skills function as you’d expect, but it’s nice to know just what kind of ‘bang for the buck’ the Reckoning skills offer.
Gameplay breaks down into two parts, combat and world interaction.
Combat is fantastic. The God of War style descriptors given to Reckoning, pre-release, are on target. Players will enjoy the powerful strokes and melee combat that allows them to move around fluidly between enemies. Aspects like dodging and secondary weapons make combat more exciting and fast-paced. There is one aspect of combat that is highly disappointing for a rogue-type enthusiast and that is ranged weaponry. While it is nice to throw knives as a learned skill, ranged attacks with a bow has been dumbed down to childlike level. Ranged bow attacks are auto-aimed and there is little interaction between player and weaponry. If you’re a rogue style player, then this game will be a little disappointing.
World interaction is probably the biggest letdown in Reckoning. Discovery is a word used to describe open world games and that discovery is a large part of what makes players come back for more. Reckoning is massive, but moving through it doesn’t feel like discovery, it feels walled. Characters can go anywhere they wish, but getting there seems scripted. The best example I can give involves foliage and plant-life throughout the world. Don’t plan on hiding in any bushes or behind a tree because you can’t. The character is behind an invisible barrier which prevents such activity.
The absolute biggest pet peeve for Reckoning is the lack of jump ability. In a game like this where walking is the primary source of travel and where the world is immense, characters must have the ability to jump. As a player, if I walk up to a rock and can’t walk over it because it’s too large, then I want to jump over it not change direction and walk around it. Lack of jump is a major fail in Reckoning.
The only other major issue was the in-game map. I find it simplistic and lacking descriptive features. The map is hardly a tool and more of a compass. It will point you in a direction, but where you’re actually going is hard to determine.
While not the perfect game, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a great game with hundreds of hours of gameplay if players attempt every quest presented to them. Reckoning lacks in certain areas, but overall is crafted well enough to keep interest high. The game is beautifully designed with rich, colorful graphics that rival animated movies. Though I had some criticisms of the gameplay, there is an inner urge to play which is a good sign for any game.
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