Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning has had the honour of being compared to several esteemed games- like Fable, God of War, World of Warcraft and Elder Scrolls. Developers have been hyping it as the next big revolution in the RPG genre, and to be honest, I, too, was very hyped. I even wrote an article on why I thought KOA might turn out to be a better game than Skyrim. So it is that I inform you with a heavy heart that Reckoning is a massive disappointment.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning isn’t really a bad game. The things it does well, it does very well, and there’s a lot of fun to be had and a lot of hours to be spent here. But the shortcomings overcome the pros of the game in the long run, and Reckoning comes across as a lifeless, generic RPG after all is said and done.
The game world is a very lifeless one. In games like Skyrim and Fable, every place you go to has an identity of its own, and it feels alive and breathing and living. Kingdoms of Amalur’s entire game world, save a few sections, feels empty, lifeless and dull. NPCs are very few in number in most of the places, and the few times we get to see them in numbers, they come across as boring and typical. They say stuff you’d expect, give uninteresting inputs and often set you off on generic side quests. This particular thing was a huge bummer for me, because bad side quests in an RPG is a huge let down for me. And given the extremely rich and diverse history and lore of the game, this is a shame. I would have loved to take part in quests that actually matter to or were connected with the backstory somehow.
The one thing the world is full of are the monsters- and boy, is it fun to beat the hell out of them. The combat in Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is mind blowing, almost good enough to rival the likes of Ninja Gaiden and God of War. it’s flashy and action packed, with superior animations and varied and interesting moves, but it’s not just a button masher. The combat is deep, requiring you to time your attacks perfectly, equip yourself with the best suited weapons, and levelling up the way you should.
The levelling system is deep and engaging, and it isn’t much different from that of Skyrim’s. While it isn’t even half as extensive and branched out, it still provides you with plenty of choices in how you should progress your character. But nothing you do is permanent- since your character is Fateless, you can reset all his/her points and allot them to skills you think are useful at the moment. It’s flexible and lets us advance our character in meaningful ways.
The art style of Amalur is also wonderful. It’s much like Fable, but it doesn’t have it’s charm. When it comes to the mood, it’s a lot like World of Warcraft. Unlike most of the other parts of the game, though, it has a unique identity of its own and seems to have been created with lots of passion and love. Everything from the trees and houses to the environments and the monsters looks great. It’s a shame that the technical aspects of the visuals don’t match up. While there aren’t much glitches, the game has plenty of frame rate drops, and the textures are bland in many places. Character models often look stiff and jagged, and their lip syncing downright sucks, as do the facial animations.
It’s a shame then that the game doesn’t put this good art style to use- it never gives it any meaning. The world is a generic one, and it you always get the feeling that you’re either in Albion or in Skryim, but with a different look. Almost everything in this game is generic, actually- from the quests to the boring and forgettable story, from the characters to the game world. Nothing you ever see sticks out in your memory, and you come away disappointed, seeing as the developers were hyping this game to be something it ultimately wasn’t.
It’s also a disappointment that the soundtrack is rarely ever used. Amalur is a game without music, for most of the part. While sound effects are put to good use and the thump followed by all your attacks is oh-so-satisfying and befitting the weapon you used, you rarely ever get to hear any music. The few times it does punctuate the action, though, it will blow your mind. It’s a grand, epic soundtrack that would fit perfectly in the most epic of all stories.
However, what disappointed me most in Amalur was that the choices we made in the game had no impact whatsoever. The illusion we were given the frailest ever, and it broke under the slightest scrutiny. The game does employ a Mass Effect-style dialogue wheel, and the story hails you as the Fateless One, one who can change the fate of the world. But the events of the story play out exactly as they have been scripted, with no deviations, no matter what you do.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a game of contradictions. There’s a lot of things to do in the game, from exploration and questing to fighting monsters and other activities, but the game never makes you invested enough for you to actively want to play it further. And while the combat will keep you coming back for more action, you’ll want to stay away at the same time, because of the many, many shortcomings of the game. If you are looking for a game with awesome combat, a deep levelling system and an excellent art style, you should probably give Amalur a chance. But be warned that the lifeless and generic game world and the uninspired nature of the game will put you off.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3.
Excellent combat; Levelling system and looting items is a ton of fun; Character progression and advancement is innovative and flexible; Soundtrack is great whenever it is used; Amazing amount of rick backstories; Art style is wonderful; Lots of stuff to do
World feels lifeless; Generic and uninteresting quests and NPCs; Story is weak and, again, generic; Lots of technical issues; Minimal use of an otherwise very well composed soundtrack; Texture jaggies; Lacks any kind of identity or passion; Choices don't make any different whatosever
While ultimately disappointing and generic, Reckoning is a fun and deeply engaging game with one of the best combat systems around.