Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning - The Legend of Dead Kel Review

23 Mar 2012

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:Electronic Arts
Developer:Big Huge Games
Release Date:2012-03-20
Genre:
  • Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Third-Person
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning has been one of my highlights this year as far as RPGs go - it had smart character building and some of the best action-RPG combat I'd seen to date. Although I did have my fun with the game, it did grow a little bit tiresome and repetitive after a while, suffering from too much padding and a lack of variety in enemies to fight and locations to explore.

38 Studios and Big Huge Games weren't content to rest on their laurels, however. With "The Legend of Dead Kel", Reckoning has received a large chunk of all-new content, complete with its own storyline, dozens of side-quests, shiny new items and equipment, and some new gameplay additions that definitely spruce things up. Although it's ultimately more of the same, pound-for-pound "The Legend of Dead Kel" offers a better gameplay experience than the original campaign did.

Pirates Are the New Black

Perhaps taking a page from Risen 2, the theme of "The Legend of Dead Kel" is pirates. The DLC starts out with your character undertaking a near-suicidal mission to rid the seas of the dread pirate Dead Kel, who is made all the more threatening by being, at least according to legend, immortal. Setting sail under the banner of quite possibly the most laughably incompetent sea captain I've ever seen, you shortly wake up shipwrecked (of course) on Dead Kel's mysterious island fortress, Gallows End. Funny how these things always seem to work out.

Upon arriving, you'll quickly discover that the island isn't uninhabited. A group of shipwreck survivors have banded together to form a small community. Protected from Dead Kel's influence by a god they call Akara, they're a pious lot and, as usual with religious people in videogames, things are not quite what they seem. Though the story never strays from its central goal of killing Dead Kel and leaving the island, there are enough twists to keep things interesting for the 10-odd hours it should take to finish the DLC.

Beyond the story, the game has also received a sizeable injection of pirate-themed everything. While Gallows End isn't quite a tropical paradise, there are about five brand-new outdoor areas to explore, all roughly comparable in size with those in the base game's, and all are fairly distinct - from the wooded areas deep inland, to the shipwreck-filled beach at the east end of the island, to the maze of walkways and docks at Dark Harbor, Gallows End's new environments are both quite pretty to look at, while also having a personality distinct from the locations in the main game.

Meanwhile, there's plenty of new pirate gear to find (several new item sets and about two-dozen unique items), buried treasure to uncover (of course), and, one of the more interesting additions, Gravehal Keep. If you've played Baldur's Gate II or even Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening, you'll likely be struck with a sense of deja vu - aided by an almost-too-helpful gnomish architect, Gravehal Keep can be rebuilt over the course of the DLC and stocked with new inhabitants and utilities. Seeing it get bigger and more populated over the course of the storyline is one of the more rewarding parts of "The Legend of Dead Kel".
 
 

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