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Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning review

AT A GLANCE
  • Fluid combat
  • Skill and leveling systems
  • Interesting, unique world
  • Graphics look dated
  • Grindy MMO quests
  • Exploration isn't great

Check back at 1:00pm PT for a gameplay livestream of Kingdoms of Amalur with the reviewers for GamesRadar and PlayStation the Official Magazine.

When kings will be born, how they’ll die, who they’ll right and who they’ll wrong, whether or not the chef’s pastries will be burnt or come out sufficiently flaky – it’s all predetermined in the world of Amalur, a land where fate is cold, hard fact. Everyone’s fate is written in stone, and they’re destined to follow it to a T. Except you. As the “Fateless One” (a name only rivaled by “The Dragonborn” of Skyrim when it comes to coolness), you have the power to reshape Amalur and fight an evil that threatens to destroy the world.

Shocking, right? An RPG where the fate of the world rests in your hands. Luckily, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is more than an RPG cliché, and proves that there’s plenty of room in the action RPG genre outside of Tamriel and Albion.


It's the fate of the world

Above: You start off the game extremely dead

Yes. The world is at stake. There’s a war going on between the mortals of Amalur and the immortal Fae, which, as you can expect, isn’t going well for the mortals.

After being killed in battle you’re resurrected by a mysterious contraption called the Well of Souls, which is destroyed almost immediately after your revival. Your memory is erased. The gnome that resurrected you has disappeared. You have no idea what is going on. Even stranger, Fateweavers – gifted individuals who can read the threads of fate and accurately predict your future – can’t see a thing. Turns out that since your pre-destined book of destined fate or whatever was closed upon your death, you’re free from its binds, and you’re the first person in Amalur who is truly free to do… anything, really.

Which is great, because the Fae are on track to wreck up everything. Even though they’re usually peaceful and benevolent, they’ve recently been riled up by Gadflow, an evil maniac with motives that expand well beyond wiping out all mortal life. And there’s more bad news: Gadflow isn’t fated to be slain by any mortals. Lucky for the world, your character doesn’t really care all that much about fate. It’s an awesome premise, and one that plays into the story very well.


Around the world in 40 hours

We finished the main campaign in just over 40 hours of play. That, alone, is an impressively long game, but we’re going to be completely honest: we skipped a lot of side quests, and didn't complete all of the different Faction's quests. Those 40-plus hours were spent doing a smattering of missions in each town on our way through the core storyline, and we passed dozens and dozens of yellow exclamation points (denoting new quests) in each area. And there were a lot of areas.

 

Every town we visited was filled with NPCs eager to toss some coin our way to clear out a cave, take down some trolls, or to find their lost item. After a while, we had to just ignore them so that we’d actually have a chance to finish the game in time for review. If we did them all – or even attempted to do them all – we could see the game lasting two to three times as long. Easily.

There was another reason we started avoiding side quests after completing the first few, though: they weren’t always interesting. Some were narrative-driven adventures that expanded the lore of Amalur, teaching us more about the world while we hunted down treasure or fought beasts. Others were by-the-books MMORPG quests, which got old fairly fast. Kill 10 rats for no reason? Go interact with this rock pile? Nah. We’re good. Thankfully, the game’s strong combat and rewarding loot system make it so even the most mundane quests were still enjoyable, even if they just never felt all that necessary.

Above: Everyone here has a job for you

As we became more involved in the different Faction quests, our overall mission became somewhat muddled. We’d go off the map for a few hours, killing rats and finding rings for random townspeople, and by the time we’d get back on track, we’d already forgotten about Badfwhatever and the war that’s supposedly going on. The world simply doesn’t look or feel as war-torn as it should, and many of the side-missions and Faction quests don’t really involve the world being enveloped in an all-out war.

More Info

Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PC, PS3
Genre: Role Playing

Topics

Amalur Kingdoms of

62 comments

  • yaswanth - September 24, 2012 6:25 a.m.

    GOod combat but boring world.
  • nikrusty - April 13, 2012 4:57 a.m.

    Love the game :) thanks Big GAme Studios
  • Nightwalker11 - February 25, 2012 midnight

    It's a real worthy of playing game.
  • payonel - February 13, 2012 2:12 p.m.

    That is one pathetic rational for "not better than Skyrim" Basically what this unjustified review (is submitting|claims) is that it is more fun walking around and doing nothing but sight-seeing [world exploration] than actually playing the game and progressing your character [stats and combat]. Note that Reckoning does not fail in world exploration, it is actually enormous and dense in content; whereas Skyrim is enormous, yet sparse. Oh, and he has a fetish for dragons, so Skyrim wins.
  • payonel - February 13, 2012 4:34 p.m.

    That ending, "...so skyrim wins" was sarcastic, by the way :)
  • evermore9871 - February 10, 2012 12:16 a.m.

    For a second there when they asked if it was better than Skyrim I was like "You Bastards!" and then I saw "No". So I was just like "Oh thank god".
  • FinderKeeper - February 9, 2012 11:22 a.m.

    I always enjoy reading the review from the start, and guessing at what the review score will be. Before I got to the last page, I was thinking "he's gonna give it an 8." That doesn't always happen with reviews, but I appreciate it when it does. It means that the reviewer has done a good job of explaining how he sees the game. Everyone will have a different opinion, so even though the readers may think the game is rated too high or too low, they know why the reviewer gave it the score he did. But yes, AAA titles from established powerhouses sometimes (not always, but more often than they should) seem to get the benefit of an extra 5-10% (for example, a 10 instead of a 9), because of "who they are", and not "what they are."
  • FinderKeeper - February 9, 2012 11:26 a.m.

    To be clear, I'm not referring to KoA as a "AAA title" nor to 38 Studios as a powerhouse. The powerhouses in this case would be Bethesda, Bioware, and Lionhead.
  • Slayer11496 - February 8, 2012 3:28 a.m.

    Characters of KoA's world are ironically more believable than skyrims, which is strange because skyrim prefers to cater towards believability. Anyway, i've just put some hours in with this game and actually found myself engrossed and role-playing, not just stat whoring like a few other modern RPGs. If you like games like fable you'll really enjoy this. Did i mention how beautiful the world is?
  • patbateman17 - February 9, 2012 6:45 a.m.

    So I'm not comparing games because I think the comparisons are silly (just like trying to compare Dark Souls and Skyrim when they are just two great games with different takes on the genre) - but I'm a PS3 user currently debating whether to get Skyrim (patch today to hopefully fix the lag issues) or KoA. I liked the KoA demo and LOVED Fable, but I'm just not super sure. I rented Skyrim and was totally overwhelmed, but relish creating a super powerful warrior mage character that rips guys to shreds and has awesome armor (the epic mage battle youtube vids convinced me :). Any thoughts? Again not comparing the 2 or 3 games since I'm sure they are all good. I'm currently working through Dark Souls but def. want something I can play without stress haha. Appreciate any insights! Thanks!!
  • FauxFurry - February 7, 2012 7:30 p.m.

    The last "You'll Hate" bullet point was exactly what I was most worried about in the game based upon my impressions from the demo, though the second bullet point was a close second. The first bullet point was more of an annoyance than a concern for me but still, there it is. Unfortunately, it sounds a bit too much like Sacred 2 to me in that it is a game with solid game play mechanics and a somewhat interesting though unremarkable premise and lore hindered by being set in a dull,flat area which requires one to take the long way around everything due to the perplexing inability to jump or climb over anything and no real surprises to be found therein. As such, like Sacred 2, it will be a reliable time-sink until the next big RPG comes out at which point, it will largely be forgotten. Mass Effect 3 comes out next month, so that won't even take very long this time.
  • IceBlueKirby - February 7, 2012 4:56 p.m.

    I wasn't entirely sure I wanted this game, but now I think I'm sold on it. I'll probably still download the demo first, just to make sure.
  • Thequestion 121 - February 7, 2012 12:56 p.m.

    This looks great, I will pick this game up
  • pr0tostar - February 7, 2012 12:51 p.m.

    I don't blame ya'll for bumping the art/graphics, but hey that's the industry perspective. Some people will like this game because it retains familiarity of their favorite life-stealer, others like me and in another comment I saw, never played WoW;I(for one)still liked the art though. Maybe they weren't very inspired, maybe it was intentional. Comparing it to Skyrim feels like a bit of a stretch though. I'm not saying you're implying this, but it kinda sounds like you're saying "we're gonna start bumping RPGs down if they don't live up to being able to jump over rocks and free-roam out into the fields!" Again; a matter of preference. I'm playing Skyrim on occasion, because it might be a little too big for me. I get on, I wander, next thing I know, it's time for bed. The Alamur world is still huge and nice to marvel at, but with "walls" to keep you from getting overly side-tracked. I think a better comparison to this regard would have been XIII-2, which has very similar (yet smaller) zone structure. Other than that, great review and nice touch on the game's unique points. Can't wait to get it today and shove my massive gaming queue further back!
  • Zeos - February 7, 2012 12:25 p.m.

    Man I really want this game, the demo was awesome and I love R.A. Salvatore.
  • BladedFalcon - February 7, 2012 11:58 a.m.

    Hmm, interesting review, and I liked what I read so far. Honestly, the graphical style doesn't bother me as much, maybe because I've never played WoW. And linearity doesn't normally bother me as long as there is enough story or incentive to go forward. Main question I have though. How is the overall story? Mainly,t he ending? I mean, yes, I know Cooper explained that the world is well made, and the story can get muddled along all the sidequests and factions. But I didn't have a clear impression of how the endgame's story is, does it deliver? does it end in an annoying cliffhanger? Or a predictable cliche? I ask, because after spending hours in Skyrim to find that the overall quest-line stories are rather ho-hum, I currently don't feel like putting at least 40 hours into a game with a crappy conclusion. (This is also affected by the fact that I just recently played RAGE... WHo has one of the obviously most incomplete, anticlimactic endings of this entire current generation of games.)
  • Hydr0ponicK - February 7, 2012 11:10 a.m.

    The demo felt like I was playing an uglier version of Dragon Age Origins.
  • EwoksTasteLikeChicken - February 7, 2012 12:24 p.m.

    Ha I had the same thought, it made me wonder why create an entirely new fantasy world when they could have put these resources into making Dragon Age 3.
  • BladedFalcon - February 7, 2012 2:26 p.m.

    ...Because they are not being made by the same companies at all, for starters? Also... It's you guy's opinions if you compare it to DA. But seriously? Aside from the fact that both are set in a high fantasy setting, how are they exactly similar? The combat is shraply different, with DA's being more akin to a strategy game, and Amalur's more akin to an action game. The vibe is different, DA is a far more bleak setting than Amalur. Not to mention that DA doesn't really provide a huge world so much as it mainly provide stages across a map. And likewise, Amalur features no party members and thus is less focused on character relationships. Also, no offense, but if you think this game is that much uglier than DA, you kinda need to remove the nostalgia googles. Amalur is by no means gorgeous, but DA was never known for it's beautiful graphics either, which were significantly uglier than even the first ME.
  • Fuzunga - February 7, 2012 10:01 a.m.

    I am genially offended by your comments about the visuals. Are you kidding? Imagine for a moment that this was a Wii game. Would you say the graphics look dated? No, because Nintendo always makes up for it with artistic style. This game ought to be praised for it's fantastic style and vibrant color pallet, not criticized because the visuals look "dated". But the simple fact that it's on HD consoles means it has to look as good as Battlefield 3. The constant comparisons to WoW and Fable make me want to punch people.

Showing 1-20 of 62 comments

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