Note: Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning was released on PS3, PC and Xbox 360. This review was conducted on Xbox 360 with a copy purchased at retail.
Your character awakens in a pile of dead, putrid bodies. Struggling free, they have no memory of what has happened or who they are. The only thing that is clear, from the very beginning, is that they are special, different from everyone around them. They have the power to change the world, to act outside of their own destiny. They have been severed from fate.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (KoA) is the triumph of thematic continuity. Fate transcends the game on every level, from combat mechanics to the upgrade system, from the essence of the main character to the deep, engaging storyline. This third-person action RPG is clearly the first must-play RPG of 2012 (and yes, that was a shot at Final Fantasy XIII-2, a game that should never have been made).
KoA is a game about questing, dealing with various factions and people in the world, and solving their problems (or, if you desire, advancing yourself at their expense). Quests were available everywhere- the game certainly left you no shortage of things to do. There was a main questline, 5 faction questlines (all outstanding in their own right), and a huge number of side quests. All of the quests I managed to play through were fully voiced and well done, even if they seemed tangential to the main story. This was a world that meant you to go out and do. The quality of the writing was simply outstanding, though I could have done without the excessively outlandish names.
Any RPG worth its salt requires a good upgrade system, and KoA’s certainly fits the bill. Each level increase always you to add a point to a skill like Detect Hidden (if you want gold and lots of loot, go here) or Blacksmithing. Then three points are yours to place in the categories of Might, Finesse, and Magic, allowing you to develop your character as you will. This is all pretty standard. What’s not standard is that at any time, you can travel to a Fate Weaver, and pay gold to have all those points redistributed however you see fit. This allows you to complete transform your gameplay experience at any time, and is a feature other similar games should consider. There’s nothing like playing a game for 20 hours and realizing that you’ve wasted a third of your skill points in areas you no longer use, and having no recourse. Problem solved.
The weighty combat was very impressive. All sorts of weapons have their own feel, making you feel like a slashing whirlwind with daggers, or giving you the murderous weight of a war hammer. You can leave two weapons equipped, and each is mapped to its own button, allowing you to switch seamlessly during combat. Abilities are mapped to the right trigger, allowing you to deal death in a variety of ways without much effort. You’ll also spend a lot of time blocking and rolling, and some special upgrades make those defensive skills deadly in their own right. The combat is well paced and fun. The enemies are also well varied, and some of them are massive in comparison to your character. Some of the boss fights (while not particularly challenging) are very compelling. But, as seems par for the course in games these days, the final boss was a disappointment. The game built up to the battle so well, leaving me incredibly invested. But, after the fight, I felt let down.
The world of Amalur is massive, and there is much to do and explore. It’s not quite Skyrim in its scope, but you will find yourself still capable of sinking many, many hours into this game. There is also loot everywhere. I enjoyed how, whenever I picked up an item, I was instantly able to compare it to my equipment and equip it without entering a menu. It saddened me, though, that there was a loot cap of 70 (upgradable 3 or 4 times via backpacks you could buy at merchants). While that may seem like a lot, with your character carrying 2 weapons, 6 different types of armor, and each individual potion and item counting toward that limit, it was reached far too frequently. I’d love to see a patch with that limit increased, as I spent a lot of time leaving items on the ground, or searching my inventory for the weakest item to destroy so I could pick up whatever I had just taken from an enemy corpse.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is the game that Fable always wished it was. The game includes weighty combat, a deep, well written story, and a massive world to explore and shape with your decisions. The game includes some fantastic moments, and probes a variety of intellectual questions surrounding the nature of fate and our place in the universe. KoA is an outstanding effort, and hopefully only the introduction to the world of Amalur.
- Great storyline
- Weighty combat
- Compelling upgrade system
- Fate Weavers
- Loot management issues
- Weak final boss fight
5 / 5