Kingdoms of Amalur Reckoning is the first title from Big Huge Games and another title in the action adventure genre. KoA (Kingdoms of Amalur) as many call it is set in a fantasy world known as Amalur which was created by none other than Sci-fi/Fantasy novelist R.A. Salvatore. Just to give you some perspective on how big of a history this game has in an interview with Curt Schilling, yes the ex Phillies/Boston pitcher, he explains that Salvatore wrote over 10,000 years of history. Also, according to Schilling, Kingdoms of Amalur is just one piece of the entire history of Amalur and even only one section of the entire world written before this game was being developed. It is good to know that a new IP such as this, with a new developer, has such a strong backdrop in terms of the story in order to provide very deep content and thorough detail at that. This title provides numerous hours of gameplay, if you want it to, and may remind many people of numerous MMO titles in the way that the game looks and feels.
Kingdoms of Amalur begins with your character basically being thrown down a chute on top of a pile of corpses in what appears to be a laboratory. Now you are not sure whether or not you are indeed dead but you quickly understand that you are not and thus the game begins. The beginning area is essentially a tutorial for you to get accustomed to the game and many have already downloaded the demo and experienced this beginning area, including myself. After the tutorial you are thrust into the world of Amalur and must speak to your mentor, a fateweaver, who sets you on your journey and lays the groundwork for what is to come in the game. After speaking with him the world is yours to explore and might I add that this world is full of colors, shrubbery, enemies, and even wildlife from time to time. Now the reason I said there are hours of gameplay to be had if you want it is because the main quest alone will last anywhere from 8-10 hours. It is the side quests that can provide maybe the most fulfilling and kick ass experiences in KoA because they are time consuming and you will become enthralled by the rich content. If you decide to do side quests along with the main quests you are easily looking at 30+ hours of game time, well worth your money if you ask me. Within Amalur there are 5 zones or areas to explore but you do not want to tread onto untraveled land early because you will be too low of a level. To sum up the story, without spoiling anything, you are risen from the dead and you set out to find out why you were reborn and you discover quickly that you must save the world of Amalur from opposing forces.
Graphically, Kingdoms of Amalur is vibrant and has so many rich colors that many have compared the feel to a new age World of Warcraft ( yes I said new age because WoW is 8 years old!). Big Huge Games put a lot of detail into the world of Amalur and made sure that every town or castle you come to is flourishing with life and nature. We all know trying to perfect something can also lead to imperfections and Kingdoms of Amalur is no different. Throughout the world I did notice some screen tearing within the environment and some polish problems with parts of the world. Sometimes the textures on certain objects or characters would appear to not load at all or if they did there would be imperfections in the textures. The thing that amazed me is that even with these textural and sometimes graphical bugs it never hampered my experience with the game because I was so sucked in from the start. What else knocked me off my feet is that this game had more polish than many other games in its genre from developers who have been making these games for years, and this was a new title from a brand new developer. But I will say when these impurities were not present KoA provided rich graphics and tons of graphical detail in the major towns/cities.
Gameplay, more importantly combat, is where Kingdoms of Amalur really shines and differentiates itself in the genre where all the games have so many of similarities. The combat in KoA is very unique and is full of fun to be had once you get down the combos. Your character has three skill trees to start the game, Might, Sorcery, and Finesse, and each of these trees can be combined if you want. I chose to stay strictly sorcery and only when I ran out of ideas in my sorcery tree did I dabble in the other two. Some of the spells and skills that you put points into have the ability to branch upwards and allow for chain combos and they can even strengthen by holding down the buttons to charge the ability. For instance with the sorcery abilities I was able to shoot my enemies with ice but when I upgraded the ability/spell I then could hold down the button and it would charge up for a blizzard effect. On the Xbox 360/PS3 you are allotted four slots pertaining to each button on the controller and you can choose as which abilities you want to use. I would say of the combat this was the only gripe I had with Amalur because I constantly needed spells/abilities but I could not sacrifice them for others and thus some went unused for large portions of the games. That being said the combat has many good combination moves and the thing that intrigued me about it is with each hit the game sort of stops so you can experience the hits. To top this off you have a fate meter that fills up after each enemy you kill, ultimately allowing you to enter fate mode. Fate mode is activated by holding the back triggers down, altering the world and leaving the colors with just black and purple shades. While in fate mode enemies are easier to take down, even bosses, and after each kill you have the option to execute your enemy. The tricky part with this is that your fate meter goes down when in fate mode and you need to make sure to kill as many as you can before executing whoever you deem worthy of a proper killing. When you decide to execute your enemy you are shown an execution animation and as the animation is ending you are shown a button that you must mash constantly in order to get the most XP our of the kill, 100% XP bonus being the highest. This is one of the best features brought to this game and sets it apart from other western RPG titles. There were even times when I found myself yelling ooooh and aaaaahhh because the executions looked so amazing and were so rewarding.
Kingdoms of Amalur is a great game and is one that deserves to be played by anyone who enjoys action adventure RPGs. I realize that there will be those of you who pass on this game because it appears to be another run of the mill western RPG, but I can tell you that you are indeed missing out. Amalur provides plenty of hours of gameplay and there is already DLC title ” The Legend of Dead Kel” which was released a couple of weeks ago and adds new quests, towns, enemies, and environment to explore for hours. The only thing that I wanted more than anything out of this game was Co-Op functionality however Big Huge Games addressed this saying they would have had to cut into the single player aspect in order to get the game out in time. They ensure us that they will be focusing on multiplayer aspects in the future Amalur projects if they are given the green light for a sequel. Lets all hope.
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
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