But none of this matters if you don’t care about the actual world of Amalur. Renowned fantasy author R.A. Salvatore, the game’s writer, said it himself: "When you ask someone to save the world, you want to give them a world worth saving." And a world worth saving it is. Salvatore penned thousands of years of history for the world, inventing races, histories, and interesting events to populate the game’s setting. He did a good job of it, too, creating a world we cared about once we figured out what the hell was going on. It’s not a wholly unique world, and it definitely borrows from other popular fantasy literature, but it’s unique enough to feel fresh.
Above: That wolf monster is about to get sliced and diced
Look unique, on the other hand, it does not. Amalur has a nice, bright, vivid style that’s starkly juxtaposed by the bloody combat. That said, it just… looks like World of Warcraft. There’s seriously no other way to describe it. The characters all look like Blizzard characters dropped into a new world, and the graphics simply aren’t as strong as other games in the genre. It’s not that big of an issue, but it’s definitely a shame that it doesn’t perform as well visually as it does in every other aspect.
It’s also a little too linear due to the fact that the characters are all stuck to the ground. Though Amalur is a very big place, it’s nowhere near as 3D as a game like Skyrim, and our player was forever glued to the ground without the ability to jump over even the smallest obstacles. This definitely shrinks the world down a good deal, and makes it feel significantly smaller than it actually is.
Above: Quick! Someone tell Blizzard that its monsters are escaping
Still, we’re happy that the game has created a world we actually cared about full of unique characters and interesting monsters. Though we didn’t fall in love with how the world looked or how we interacted with it, we bought into the world itself – which is undeniably more important.
The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim? No. Not really. It does a lot of things better, like combat and skills, but Skyrim’s world is simply more enjoyable to explore. There also aren’t that many dragons in Amalur, so that immediately knocks it down a few pegs.
Fable III? Yes. Fable III was a marked step back for the series, dropping many of the elements we loved in the second game in favor of… being a king or whatever. It seems to have lost its heart from II to III, whereas Amalur’s is beating out of its chest. Amalur is also more focused, lacking many of the superfluous elements (again, being a king) in favor of keeping things tight.
Dragon Age II? Yes. Though we were adequately impressed with the first game, the sequel never managed to feel sufficiently epic, and that’s a problem Reckoning never has. Reckoning is simply a more satisfying experience, with a better combat system that doesn't feel as confused or conflicted as Dragon Age II's, which landed in an awkward spot between action RPG and traditional RPG.
Amalur does a lot of things better than some of the best out there. The combat is stronger than Skyrim’s by a long shot, and the world feels more alive than games like Fable. It tells a good story well, and lays the foundation for a series we hope to see more of in the future, fate be damned.
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