If you’re sick of most RPGs having mediocre or even poor combat, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning might be just for you. Priding itself on fluid and intuitive combat and having a developer dream team with Ken Rolston, Todd McFarlane and R. A. Salvatore, can Kingdoms of Amalur stack up with the best?
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning sets itself up like most RPGs at the character creation screen. Here you can select from four playable races that consist of humans and elves. You then decide if you want to play as a warrior, rouge or mage by selecting skills such as might, finesse and sorcery. From here you can spend points in a vast skill-tree system that will unlock “destinies” that act as the class system in Reckoning.
When you’ve finished creating your character you are thrusted into the Faelands, one of the Kingdoms of Amalur. Surprising you’re not actually alive, you learn that you’ve actually died before the game even started. You find your body being wheeled along by two gnomes and placed into “The Well of Souls” that gives life back to you. You learn after being revived that everyone in Amalur has a predetermined fate or destiny. Breaking this destiny by being brought back from death, you are now known as the “fateless one” and you have the ability to change the destinies of everyone you come in contact with. So you set off in the Faelands to find out how and why you died. All while the kingdom is at war with the evil forces of the Tuatha.
The story in Reckoning overall is quite confusing. Dealing with fate and the Tuatha interludes, but does get confusing. Luckily, if story isn’t your thing Reckoning features literally hundreds of side quests for you to complete. Whenever you stumble into a new town the map is littered with possible quest givers. These are great as they help you on your way and give you some great rewards and loot along the way. Unfortunately the main and side quests get repetitive and turn into a big game of follow the way point.
As I mentioned before the combat in Reckoning is extremely fluid and really solid. You can have a primary weapon, secondary weapon and a magic ability such as an attack spell or a spell to enhance or give you an ability like rushing past an enemy to get in behind them. Weapons include swords, great swords, magic staffs, hammers and dual wieldable daggers and faeblades. You can have any combination to make up your primary and secondary weapons. Weapons are used with two face buttons on the controller, so you can easily switch attacks and rack up some awesome combos. If you want to use your magic just hit the trigger and select what magic ability you want to use. The combat truly is quite amazing and stands out as easily the best aspect of Reckoning.
While the combat is great the gameplay suffers from some strange decisions. The world is plastered with invisible walls. You need to be on a path or you will go nowhere. Try to drop off the path to save time and your face will be smacked into an invisible wall. It’s very strange and annoying, many times will this happen to you. Some areas look like you can get there such as rivers and mountains but you just can’t get there thanks to the invisible walls. Another bad thing you’ll soon notice is the repetition of side quests. This happens in every RPG but in Reckoning it just stands out because there are literally thousands of quests to do. Another thing is the sprint function. Your character has infinite sprint but it has to be toggled with a face button. I know these sounds like small issues but they are just extremely noticeable. Another issue is the camera. The camera seems to focus heavily on the ground and only features a small part of the sky and environment in front and around you. The camera also feels a little close to your character.
The world in which Reckoning is set by definition is open world but it’s much more closed off than similar games such as Skyrim and Fallout. Adopting a Fable style world with paths connecting all the towns with caves, dungeons and more off the track. Reckoning’s world is quite large but because of this closed off approach it seems to lack scale. The towns feature a few houses, shops and merchants and they look and feel small. Being a closed off world isn’t a bad thing, it just hurts the style and tempo of the gameplay. Regardless, the Faelands are littered with places to buy and sell, explore and cause havoc.
Like most aspects of Reckoning, the art style borrows heavily from other RPGs such as Fable and World of Warcraft. The bright cartoony graphics style is very pleasant to look at and serves the game well. The characters also look great and come with British accents. The presentation is good and doesn’t stutter often. The only issues I found was the lip syncing of characters just seemed extremely off. However, this problem was rare and doesn’t impact the gameplay at all. Reckoning also features an extensive smithing and creating aspect, where you can create your own weapons and armour. It’s very well done and is very helpful to you. Whether you plan on selling or using your creations, it’s a must try feature of Reckoning.
The Faelands are absolutely covered in loot. In caves, in dungeons on the road, name a place and it’s there. This is a great incentive to explore the Faelands but it just feels too much. Most times you finish a main quest or any other important quest the reward is normally an awesome piece of amour or a devastating new weapon. While this sounds great it quickly makes your current equipment redundant. Then, when you finish the next quest, your awesome new armour and devastating weapon are now also redundant. It’s vicious cycle that can you leave you overwhelmed at the end of it. Regardless the loot and the quests leading up to the loot are normally always a blast to complete.
While Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a great game, it just holds itself back a little with its unoriginality and strange gameplay decisions. The amazingly fluid combat is the thing that stands out and helps Reckoning make its mark. At first you may seem overwhelmed with the thousands of quests and loot system, stay with it. Once you understand the game you’ll be having fun in no time. I recommend this game to anyone and especially those who might find other RPGs hard or frustrating.