Released earlier this year, this single-player action role playing game for PS3, Xbox 360 and Windows computers, turned out to be a bit of a disappointment despite the pre-release hype.
However, a couple of features, the character advancement and combat that exists with Kingdoms of Amalur:Reckoning are good enough to cover up just how bland the rest of the game is. Even the best ofthe role playing games haven’t necessarily been recognised for their excellent combat, with reviewers tending to focus on their complex stories, ambitious worlds and the elements of choice they contain.
When discussing your favourite RPG’s it isn’t often that the combat is the stand out feature, yet that is probably very much the case with Kingdoms of Amalur. The combat in this RPG is of such a standard that it wouldn’t look out of place in an out and out action game. As far as swordplay, looting and levelling are concerned, the Kingdoms of Amalur is as good, if not better, that any other RPG in recent times. This is exactly the RPG you should be playing if your primary concerns in a game are exemplary action sequences and progression. It might be wise at this point to not get totally carried away and point out that there should be more to an RPG than flinging swords around, and the best of them should be described as experiences rather than just games.
They are parallel universes that you enter, encountering unusual characters that mill around, invite you into their homes, promise you treasures beyond your wildest dreams and then protect you from unimaginably horrific monsters and beasties. Unfortunately, it is in this area that Kingdoms of Amalur doesn’t as much falter as grind to a standstill. It looks nice there’s
plenty to do, but everything is very much the same. Take Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for example, you stumble across a coven full of
cannibals and converse telepathically with a dog, and in Mass Effect 2 you are privy to a troubled young woman’s painful past and witness the ultimate conflict between a mother and her daughter. In Kingdoms of Amalur, however, you kill things and have to listen to nondescript characters spouting endless lines of spectacularly boring lore. There is a ridiculous amount of dialogue, and much time and effort has clearly been put into it yet the games still fails to gain any kind of identity. There is an awful lot to tell, but nothing to show, although you do start off with a pretty good premise; you are dead. Well, you were dead, but a cleverly named device, the Well of Souls, brought you back to life.
When you reawaken, you find yourself in quite a quandary, as you have no fate, and seeing as you are no longer bound by the laws of fate, you can change destinies at will. You can kill enemies, save the lives of the innocent and choose to be a jerk or an angel, or both. Kingdom of Amalur allows you choose occasionally, but as you are effectively a blank canvas,
you are able to progress as you see fit. Now most of you will be thinking what a brilliant premise this is for an RPG, but it’s just a great pity that the creators didn’t seem to have a clue where to go with it. You slowly learn about your self titled blank canvas character, but it is infinitely more exciting to battle than develop. You can seek people out and talk to them if you really want to, but it is not really worth it for what you get from them. Conversations of this length belong in books, they add to the story in that medium but there is far too much dialogue for a game here. You want to embark on the adventures yourself not be regaled with the tales of someone else’s. There is the odd decent narrative however, the conversation where the woman is furious that the church has outlawed women from becoming clergy, but most of it is more wooden than the background forest.
There are many decent RPG’s out there that don’t have a great central plot or much superior dialogue, so the humdrum storytelling might not bother you too much. It’s a shame that the side quests don’t pick up the slack however, as there is little real variety in them. Kill a spider, find a missing person, find this item or that item etc. There is the odd spark of creativity in these but they are few and far between. Some reviewers have compared Kingdoms of Amalur with the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, but in all honesty the only way they even remotely resemble each other is in that they are both fantasy open world RPG’s. Even the open world in Amalur is of a rather pedantic style, yes its big but it isn’t huge and is more like a group of areas both linked and separate by winding corridors.
If you want a no-brainer RPG with no really story but brilliant combat, then kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning will be right up your street. If you like your RPG’s with grit and integrity, give it a wide berth.
Article courtesy of Gizmophobe Technology Blog