The gameplay mechanics are there, but the essence and soul of a true RPG, is absent. The world is beautiful, but somehow feels like you've been there before. Whether this is because the art style draws inspiration from Blizzard's Warcraftuniverse or Lionhead Studios' Fable, or something else, we don't know. Maybe it's just because of the incredible amount of generic content and the dreary story. We do know that it's not enough for us to take an interest in what's going on in the world of Amalur. The storyline and quests don't require you to think, they merely require you to finish one straightforward task after another. No plot intricacies or tough moral choices. Even with its impressively gigantic world, cool combat and heaps of RPG delights, this game just doesn't feel unique in any way, which is amazing considering how many experienced and talented people were involved in its creation.
Had Amalur been stripped down to its bare essentials it would be a much easier game to recommend. This would make for an excellent 12-15 hour action game with its cool combat and fun player progression and a main story that’s certainly no worse than most other videogame fare. However, as an especially long RPG masquerading as an open world design it simply overstays its welcome, it feels soulless, and tries to juggle too many balls at once.
Story complaints aside, I feel like KoA is mechanically a title update away from excellence. At 15 hours in, I'm well past the point of commitment for the game, and obviously will be digging into it at least through the endgame. It's a very strong showing for the team at 38 Studios, and I hope in the future they're able to articulate on and flesh out the vision here.
It might not change the face of RPGs forever, but Kingdoms of Amalur really delivers everything it sets out to regardless. The combat is brilliant, fast-paced and engaging with a good amount of depth thanks to the wealth of weapons and abilities to choose from. But while it’s definitely the combat system that makes KoA stand out, the rest of the game does its job too. The world is large and beautifully designed, and there are tons of side quests to keep you busy. KoA perfectly fits the gap between huge and deep games like Skyrim and flashier but shallow games like Fable. It’s big, entertaining, and highly accessible to newcomers.
At any rate, Reckoning is what it is: a way to get people who never read the books interested in the world, and hopefully encourage them to play the MMORPG when it comes out. It’s not a bad game – but it’s not an amazing game either. Had they left out half of the garbage quests that they put in, the game might have ended up a lot better. Hell if they would have just worked on the stories for a tiny bit longer on those things this game would have racked up there in the amazing category. Fort what it’s worth though, Reckoning is fun to play, and while it may not be a grab for a lot of people at full price, I would definitely say not to let this one slip by once it goes on sale.
Ultimately, and unfortunately, there’s a fairly yawning chasm between what Amalur promises and what it delivers. You might look at the marketing for the game and see what appears to be a huge, sweeping RPG experience in the finest traditions of the genre. With glamourous visuals, fantastic-looking combat animations and big (huge?) names like R.A. Salvatore and Todd McFarlane, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you were already being treated to the future RPG of the year. Instead, what you end up with is a strange mishmash of different takes on the RPG genre, that somehow ends up being less than the sum of its parts.
There are some obvious faults with Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning; some dull dialogue, often uninteresting side-quests, and a slightly dated menu/inventory screen, but it’s high-contrast visuals, customisation and extremely large play-time (200+ hours if you want it to be) definitely make it worth trying. If you thought Fable 3 was a washout, this could be its saviour, and if you’re new to RPGs the easy to understand combat, questing and levelling could help you find your role-playing feet.