An acceptable RPG that’s less than the sum of its parts
An assured, substantial fantasy brawler. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning began life as an MMO, and it’s tempting to ascribe the game’s failings to this inception.
The massive, 60-hour-plus world is composed of sloping, easily navigable but actually not very invigorating basins that squirrel off into fractionally more labyrinthine dungeons, seemingly built to accommodate parties, not lone rangersPenned by novelist R.A. Salvatore, the fiction speaks to multiplayer tropes in spicy ways: it’s founded on endlessly cycling heroic tales (read: quests) lived and relived by the immortal Fae sect the Tautha. An MMO world whose static narrative structures are shifting and decaying? It’s a sharp conceit and one the script has fun with.
Respect your elders
The aesthetic scream World of Warcraft, too- cut together by Todd McFarlane, it has the same cartoony, club-footed charm- but the more sustainable comparison is Elder Scrolls, a series Amalur imitates, sometimes betters and often falls short of.
Executive designer Ken Rolston’s credits include Elder Scrolls III and IV, and his latest work kicks off like Morrowind held up to a mirror looted from Planescape Torment: your character is a lump of shrouded carrion, his or her race, physical traits and start-skewing patron god fleshed via a gnome post-mortem. Magically restored to life, you’re left to chart your Destiny as the Fateless One, an individual capable of reshaping fate- or in other words, the lead character in a role-playing game.
Before you can wrangle with Destiny, you’ll need to wrangle the sheer awfulness of Amalurs tech. The scenery, models and effects are sub-Fable, yet the engine lumbers like a mage bowed under the weight of Dragon Bones. Load times push past 20 seconds, even for simple interiors, and while the game does an adequate job of streaming the outdoor environment, tinest additional burdens come along and flatten it. Characters show up late for custscenes, architecture wriggles and minor changes to the 2 D map aren’t always immediate.This deep into the console generation, Its rather a shock to encounter something that wouldn’t look out of place on the original Xbox.
Going into battle
The cornfy vibrancy of the art offers some consolation, making a point of the low-key textures, and combat animations are smooth. Battle is Amalur’s biggest saving grace, taking the expected stew of blades, powers and tune-ups and peppering it with Devil May Cry’s cocksure adaptability and pace.
You can segue between two of the nine weapon classes in real time- pummeling foes with bolts from a mystic scepter, for instance, then unsheathing the dual Faeblades to slice and scatter them up close. There are swish combos, delayed attacks, juggles and slams to unlock per weapon, plus spells and abilities like the Flame Mark- Splinter Cells Mark & Execute with added firestorm. It’s nowhere near as technical as a true arcade fighter but few RPGs can rival this one’s footwork.
Big Huge Games aims for scale without crippling the moment-to-moment. The Might, Sorcery and Finesse unlock trees take hours to flower, but each branch you unlock prompts a modest changed in approach. You’re deluged with new weapons and gear, yet factors like elemental damage make themselves felt in the fray.
The quests are all “fetch this” or “Kill that”, but Salvatore throws in curveballs of ten enough – there’s more than one way to infiltrate a bandit camp, and more than one way to dress up a wolf.
Amalur could use a new set of clothes-its finer qualities of ten fade into forget table trappings whenever they render correctly. It rivals Skyrims’ scope but as a genre piece (albeit a smart one), it lacks its mystery- there’s no craggy elusiveness to help you overlook the more familiar elements it’s less a world you discover as one you revisit.
Did you Know TOY STORY
Todd McFarlane isn’t just Amalur’s artist and creator of Spawn He’s one of the few people who knows all about Halo 4 Mc Fairlances toy company is making seven top-secret action figures.
What is it?
A defiantly epic third-person open-world RPG.
What’s it like?
Fable with more combat and less hand-wringing.
Who’s it for?
RPG fans who can stomach bugs and clichés.
PICK A CARD, ANY CARD
As the Fateless One, you get to decide who you character is an what mystric forces preside over your actions. Hit up the Destiny menu to pick a new Destiny card. Want a teleport dodge that damages any intervening foe? Go for Archmage. Or if you need stopping power, pick a Might card like Brawler. Some cards span character upgrade paths, so dual classers won’t feel neglected.
Make your Mark
It’s wise to invest in Archemy and Detect Hidden abilities when you being the games, as without them you’ll miss out on many of the treasures and chemical reagents that litter the landscape. Don’t worry so much about lock-picking, as Amalur’s lock picking minigrame is horrendously easy, but pay attention to Dispel Ward, as fudging a dispel incurs a nasty curse.
It’s defiantly single player, so there’s nothing online save the inevitable DLC and a controversial Season Pass. The latter locks out a seven part quest line unless you enter a code included in new copies of the game. If you buy the games second hand You’ll need to buy the quest online.
Broad horizons Great, evolving combat Deep character progression A technical catastrophe Hand-me-down aesthetic
Tepid style can’t hide a fun game