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Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Preview – Taking down the Balor

Expectations are high when it comes to Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, especially when you’re boasting an impressive team that includes Ken Rolston the lead designer of The Elder Scrolls III and IV, Todd McFarlane the creator of Spawn, and best-selling author fantasy author R.A. Salvatore. We’ve had multiple opportunities to look at this game in the past year but now that the release day is approaching, we were able to sit down and play through several quests, including some parts of the main storyline and finally confront the hulking Balor that we’ve only seen in screenshots.

 

If you haven’t had a chance to see Reckoning in action, we suggest taking a tour with the video above. We were placed two thirds of the way into the game with a well-equipped level 22 Warlock, which was described to us as a caster/rogue hybrid class. Reckoning’s fast-paced combat is exciting, and there’s no shortage of abilities that you can call upon either. Tapping the X and Y buttons on the Xbox 360 let us string a chain of combos and by holding the right trigger, another four abilities were at our disposal. Summoning a skeletal warrior to distract enemies proved useful, and laying down traps ahead of time also gave us an edge when faced with a large number of enemies.

We were given the freedom to pick and choose the kinds of quests we wanted to undertake, but the main quest seemed the most enticing, as we were given the opportunity to help free the city of Mel Senshir from the Tuatha raiders. Without going into too much of the story details, our job was to help fight against the enemy and ultimately take down the Niskaru Lord Balor, a gargantuan beast with Jabba the Hut’s figure and arms of a crustacean. It also shoots a deadly laser from its one eye. It was an impressive creature for sure, and we were eager to get down to business.

What’s great about this quest is that if you agree to help the people of Mel Senshir (you could choose not to) you are treated with a cut scene to show you just how massive this battle is going to be. A scene that’s reminiscent of a large-scale battle you’d find in Lord of the Rings, you genuinely feel like you’ve been thrust into their plight. Even though you’re weaving your way through the elven fortress, trying to fend off the Tuatha, when you do get a glimpse of the raging battle going on outside, you can see the sea of men and women fighting desperately on the battlefield. You’re also accompanied by several guards to hold the city so you’ll never feel alone. There’s also an element of choice, so by helping these people, you’ll eventually be able to freely explore the surrounding region. And if not, we could only guess.

Combat flowed well and while you could button-mash your way through everything, carefully chaining and timing your skills will take you further. When your fate energy bar is full, you can unleash Reckoning mode, which slows down time for all your opponents, allowing you to run around and deal damage to everyone. If your timing is right, button prompts will appear to allow you to gain additional experience before you close in on a flashy, instant kill.

There’s a lot of freedom when it comes to building your character as well, and not just in terms of physical appearances. Destines are the game’s version of classes, where you can change at a fate weaver try out multiple destinies to see which one you like best. As you level you choose where you assign your points, so you can dump them into beefing up your sorcery skills or assign a few to finesse. New destinies will unlock (there are 40 in the game) and you can go down a different path if you don’t like the role that you’ve been playing. We were quite happy with our Warlock though, with his teleportation powers that let us poison enemies as we passed through them. It was satisfying to get up close, poison them, follow up with our dual-blade melee strikes and maybe throw our chakrams if they got too far.

Based on what we’ve played we’re excited to see more of what Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning has to offer with its God of War-style combat and beautiful open world. Look for our review when the game ships on February 7 2012. 

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