Imagine for a second that you don't play computer games regularly and that you're just an average person who isn't a technical genius who built their own PC. Now imagine that you overheard someone talking about an RPG called Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. What stereotype would jump into your head to represent that game? Something unfashionably convoluted and fantastical?
Well, that neatly summarizes Kingdoms of Amalur. Tropey and clichéd to the extreme, it Lays before its audience one of the most uninspired fantasy worlds we have ever seen. In fact, its sheer quantity of fictional language is the only claim to originality that it could possibly muster. It's the same type of Tolkien-esque fiction you've seen several times, except humans are now called Amain, elves are called Ljosalfar and the immortal demons threatening the realm are called Tuatha Deohn. Gnomes are still called Gnomes though.
What makes the vapidity of Amalur all the more stunning, though, is that it's the product of an ensemble team that should have been capable of so much more: writer RA Salvatore, Spawn creator Todd MacFarlane, and lead designer of Morrowind and Oblivion, Ken Rolston.
In the run upto Amalur's release, Rolston's name has been the one that EA has thrown around the most— no doubt eager to capitalize on the phenomenal popularity of Skyrim, but don't be suckered in by the implied connection. Amalur may have side quests aplenty and a slew of tangential abilities, including lock-picking and smithing, but it's far more limited than an Elder Scrolls game. In fact, the closest touchstone, given Amalur's predominantly on-rails approach and constant pushing through its tedious tale, is probably Fable.
The comparison to Fable goes further than just the structure of the story as well; it also hints at the click fest nature of the combat and the laziness with which the world has been assembled. There's no attempt to aspire beyond the most outdated gaming conventions; massive glowing treasure chests litter the claustrophobic ravines that connect larger areas, and there are so many crates that even Freeman's crowbar would baulk at the challenge.
Ultimately, this lack of ambition manages to undermine even the game's most interesting elements. Forge ahead with smithing skills, for example, and you'll find a well-tuned loop of positive feedback that rewards you for making your own gear. However, when it comes to fighting with this gear, it's nothing but random clicking and occasional QTEs. It's enough to make us question whether the game is an RPG in the first place, even though the skill trees and quest chains make the answer obvious.
Yet, for all its tired plodding, Amalur is competently assembled and at times enjoyable. Large-scale fights, for example, feel especially empowering as you wade in with stave or sword, racking up your Fate meter until its ready to discharge in a blue-hewed bloodbath as a series of slow-mo super attacks. This is a simple pleasure, but it's also one you can find elsewhere and in greater quantity.
Couple that with the disappointment that such a talented ensemble has only revisited tired old clichés and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning struggles to be even slightly better than average.
Graphics comparison of Kingdoms of Amalur
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning may have Spawn creator Todd MacFartane behind the wheel on the artistic front, but aesthetically, it's far removed from the gothic comic book world. Instead, with bright textures and heavily stylised armour, it looks more like an HD version of World of Warcraft.
Unlike WoW, however, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a multi-platform game, so it isn't surprising to see that the graphics options are pulled back from what you might expect to see in a big PC-only release. You can tinker with just a handful of settings - Texture Quality, Shadow Quality, Post Processing and Vegetation being the most notable ones. The Texture Quality setting is mainly noteworthy for how little difference it seems to make.
The other settings, however, have a bigger impact. Shadow Quality can flit between Off, Normal, High and Highest, managing fully dynamic shadows on nearly all geometry and game objects it the top Level, and a flat shadeless world on the other.
Vegetation has a similar effect at the low end, where it turns off all the plants you can't harvest for alchemy reagents in an attempt to provide a faster-Loading world. We could suggest turning off this setting to make it easier to find reagents, but given that all usable items in the game already glow bright gold, that isn't really necessary.
Post Processing is the setting that has the greatest effect on the overall look of the game, however. While this setting ostensibly controls loads of effects, including motion-blur and bloom, the net result is that turning it off makes everything Look darker. This is because a lot of Amalur's bright, cartoony feel comes from saturation from bloom Lighting, god-rays and other Lighting effects.
Performance-wise, you shouldn't find Kingdoms of Amalur too hard to run if you do decide to give it a try — the recommended hardware is simply 4GB of RAM and a GeForce GTX 260 or Radeon H D 4850 or better. One requirement worth noting, however, is the inclusion of EA's Online Pass, which discourages second hand sales by blocking some content unless the game is bought new.
Other Specifications of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
Price: £29.99 including VAT
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: 38 Studios & Big Huge Games
Pros of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
- The game is excellent designed in a combat fashion
- It is accessible, stylized, and lengthy.
- The world is interesting with a plain story and is great fun to play
- The story set-up is great and narrative
- The concept is dynamic in nature
- There are a lot of options or moves to design your own character they way you want.
Cons of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
- The game is predictable and clichéd click-fest.
- It fails to live up to its expectations.
- The story-telling is turgid and lacks polish which does not build upon its own ideas.
- The combat scenarios offer very little variety.
- The beginning is way too easy which sometimes makes the game uninteresting.
- Too much of content in the game makes it tedious at times.
No responses found. Be the first to respond...