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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

Welcome to Amalur

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.

Is it better than...

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.


For those who skipped straight to the end

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.

More Info

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

Topics

Amalur Kingdoms of

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  • larkan - February 7, 2012 12:14 a.m.

    Makes me wish this game could've been released years ago as "Fable II", oh well, better late than never right?
  • GAYMER - February 7, 2012 12:24 a.m.

    "It's the fate of the world" By the power of Azmodius, I see what you did there ;)
  • anchgu7 - February 7, 2012 12:33 a.m.

    Another 8. Another great game. Because as we all know, 8 is great. Can't wait for my pre-order to arrive in the mail. Oh, and great review Coop. I can really tell you took a lot of time playing and understanding the game as well as trying to write a review that conveys what you felt while playing. I give this review an 8, which remember, is great.
  • ScrEAMaPiLLar - February 7, 2012 12:47 a.m.

    "Graphics look dated" Hmm nothing a few mods couldn't fix.
  • KnowYourPokemon - February 7, 2012 5:21 a.m.

    I find it funny that "the graphics look dated" is listed as a con for this game but when it comes to games like MW3 still using graphics from 3+ years ago and using all the shades of brown in the colour wheel it's ok. Also how "the grindy MMO quests" are a downside but never a mention of all the "Kill X bandit" quests in Skyrim, the horrible combat, and the lackluster story during Skyrim's review. Now don't take it the wrong way I'm not calling out either of those games as horrible and an 8 is still an awesome score but it's funny how those things aren't a con for those big AAA titles but not for this.
  • Slayer11496 - February 7, 2012 12:50 a.m.

    This game looks wonderful. Comparing it to skyrim? Yeah, it had to happen but is the game even aiming for skyrim? Linear i've learned is a good thing to an extent. Mass Effect? linear. Fable II? linear. MGS series? linear. Skyrim is son damn non-linear it's hard to find the things that bethesda really took the time to make cool. Not that i'm saying that skyrim sucks or even that KoA:Reckoning will be better, just that linear isn't something to to be sad about.
  • ChaseByKO - February 7, 2012 12:59 a.m.

    Combat is better and, from what I've read, the set-pieces are grander. I don't mind the characters being a bit more like characters and less realistic. Then again, I don't play World of Warcraft, so I don't know how much that grates on diehard WOW players. I'm burnt out on RPG games, tho. You can thank Skyrim. If I do buy this game, it'll be when it's down to 20 bucks (which shouldn't take too long).
  • jacklop21 - February 7, 2012 1:32 a.m.

    Skyrim's side quests were mostly fetch/random quests that didnt motivate or drive you. Amalur has better combat. I would say it's equal, maybe even better. Been playing for 4 hours now :}
  • HitmanSB07 - February 7, 2012 3:09 a.m.

    Come back when you reach 70+ hours and tell us what you think :P
  • jacklop21 - February 7, 2012 1:34 a.m.

    Oh and i read an article saying Amalur has 150+ dungeons, that's more then skyrim. He skipped a lot of side missions so maybe he missed them.
  • Shadow Of Death - February 7, 2012 3:16 a.m.

    I played the demo for hours yesterday... The only issues I really had with it are: 1 - Graphical glitches (occasionally defeated enemies would produce giant stretching geometric shapes like triangles or something, and the textures were stretched too) 2 - The faces, the faces! They're all so stiff and dead, like wax museum pieces...Makes Oblivion characters seem lively in comparison ~_~
  • Mezolitik - February 7, 2012 3:26 a.m.

    I've been really surprised with the reviews for this game. I thought the demo was atrocious. The AWFUL camera, the generic setting, the game-breaking bugs, the click-fest combat. The whole thing reminded me of an MMO; cartoon graphics and endless click-click-clicking. I'm intrigued now, but yeah...the demo puts me off. And the fact that I couldn't get the ME3 goodies because it was a mangled wreck makes me even more determined to avoid it.
  • Manguy17 - February 7, 2012 4:10 a.m.

    Did you play out the whole demo? I hated it to start with but once i was done i wanted to keep playing..
  • Mezolitik - February 7, 2012 4:23 a.m.

    Naw, I could only get about ten minutes in because of the bugs. The game freezes whenever I pick up certain items. I might give it another look when the price drops. I really hope they've altered the camera for the final release though.
  • mothbanquet - February 7, 2012 6:26 a.m.

    I thought exactly the same thing but by the end I was actually impressed by the scope of depth on offer, especially with regards to tailoring your character. Sure, there are problems but let's face it, it's not like Skyrim didn't have bugs...
  • spirals - February 7, 2012 4:07 a.m.

    I loved the demo on 360. Thought the combat was great and I'm a sucker for loot.
  • winner2 - February 7, 2012 4:14 a.m.

    Definitely liking the separation of combat and abilities
  • WikiParazFTW - February 7, 2012 4:19 a.m.

    This looks great, I'm picking it up later, but sadly I'm working all night :( Oh well, there's always tomorrow...
  • soggysage - February 7, 2012 4:52 a.m.

    I'm intrigued, sounds like everything a Fable sequel should have been.
  • HeavyTank - February 7, 2012 5:15 a.m.

    All Skyrim-comparing aside, I couldn't get to care even a tiny bit about the story, and I didn't like the combat either (yes, I think Skyrim's combat is ten times better than the mindless button-mashing of Amalur), so the only two good points of the game are not even there, as far as I'm concerned. Then, as the review said, the grindy, MMO quests really ruined it for me.Them, and the terrible graphics.