What happens when you take Baseball great Curl Shilling, award-winning fantasy and sci-fi author R.A. Salvatore and brilliant comic-book author, and artist Todd McFarlane along with a design studio purchased from THQ called “Big Huge Games” (Creators of the Rise of Nations trilogy of games as well as Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties) to create Mr. Shilling’s wet dream come true: a fantasy-role playing game he and his children would enjoy playing? The first product from such a collective is a single-player action RPG called Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, and despite the concerns of many other critics comparing Reckoning to Skyrim or The Old Republic, I found myself engrossed in a deep, action-oriented environment. Sure, it may not have the free reign or will to move all over the map as you can in Skyrim and the like, but this reminds me of more classic RPG titles such as Might and Magic VI or even The Elder Scroll’s II: Daggerfall where you don’t have an open world to run around in such as Grand Theft Auto (insert number here). On the plus side, you aren’t tied down to specific locations either, and can travel between cities moving as you wish and choosing which quests you wish to further your character along.
Reckoning starts by dropping your dead body into a hole – a “Well of Souls” the gnomes in the local keep have tried to perfect for reanimating the dead. It has never worked… until now. Instead of turning into a zombie, your character climbs down from the pile of corpses and starts on a path to find out what the hell’s going on. She/he’s in the dark about everything and needs to have her hand help so she can fight, learn how to dress and figure out how to pick up crap lying around the castle. Treasure hunters, and you know who you are, this is a game for you.
If you’re a fan of similar games such as any of the ones italicized in this review, then you already know how to play the game long before perfecting any form of skill or magic. The game holds your hand as you battle your way out of the keep and into the woods as the Well of Souls is disintegrated by the invading war party called the “Tuatha” and the gnomish keep implodes upon itself (no spoiler alert since this path can’t be avoided). Then you sit talking with people who tell you what to do next.
The game play in Reckoning is the same game play you find in any action or RPG game, which makes sense. You can block by holding up your shield; you can also shield smash by running into a mob and hitting them with said shield. Switch to daggers and enter sneaking mode, which works as well as you could expect at the lower levels (not at all), however is nice when you pull off a secret back attack and slice someone’s head off. Switch back to your giant broadsword and swipe for gobs of damage or pull out a bow to target bad guys across the bridges and further down the path. Magic performs in similar fashion: grab your staff, (not that one, perv,) and start shooting lightning bolts or fireballs as you wish. The best part of the game I’ve found is the versatility between the different fighting styles. You can do everything I’ve said in the above paragraph while fighting without having to change menus or switching anything goofy during combat sequences. Add the fact that you can hit a quick button and gulp a potion when your health starts to become lower than you’d like and combat is as perfect as I’ve seen in any action game or RPG out today.
As you progress through the game, you’ll level up your character. You also add skill points to any non-combat tree you like for professions such as blacksmithing, alchemy, or treasure finding, among a host of others, while each level also gives you one card to give you super powers (I haven’t used any yet as I’m only 20+ hours into a 100+ hour game) and your skills give you the abilities for a warrior, rogue or mage. I chose a little of all and still found it easy and versatile to do what I wanted to do within the game. If you feel you made a mistake, find a Fateweaver in one of the larger towns and you can have them reset all your skills for you. I find no matter what I end up choosing, I’m still overpowered for whatever level I’m doing and the mobs I’m targeting.
One annoyance I’ve found is that all the quests are voice acted, like Star Wars: The Old Republic, except for one fatal flaw: you don’t speak. Ever. During quest dialog, or speaking to the innkeeper, options like Mass Effect show up on your screen to determine your attitude. However, your character never speaks a word. I agree it is a bit disjointing to have a conversation while you won’t talk. It is kind of odd.
If you don’t believe me and ignore everything I’ve said to get to this point in the article, go download the demo for any system and play Reckoning.
Bottom Line: If the Kingdoms of Amalur MMO is 75% as good as Reckoning, I’m going to end up divorced and homeless holding a sign which reads: “Will rite for internets?”
Rating System: (0-10 ranking)
|Graphics:||Gorgeous graphics which pull one into the world and make you want to stay in the lush forests and creepy dungeons for hours. Wait, I did that. I’ll do it again in a heartbeat.||10|
|Storyline:||Reckoning takes more of the Skyrim route of the “Main Quest Line” and adds the “Secondary Quest Lines” underneath so you can choose which quests you want to focus on and follow. Like in Skyrim, it’s easy to end up in the middle of nowhere doing a quest which sounded more fun than it actually is. Only great storytelling can do this.||9|
|Controls:||Very simple to understand and control. I played on a PC and tried the beta on PS3. I prefer the keyboard and mouse, and yes, the camera being controlled by the mouse is a big strange at first, however after the first two to three battles, you end up using the mouse to your advantage, swinging your sword around you and swiping three mobs at once.||9|
|Replayability:||What’s an RPG if it can’t be replayed? This can, and will, Diablo-style.||10|
|Value:||$60 for any platform, single-player game which means no monthly payment and 100+ hours of game play? These are stupid questions or you failed math. Get this game now.||9|
- Chris Tallant