Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning


Written by Chris Price
06 Monday 06th February 2012

So hip-hip-hooray for an RPG that subtly imparts its narrative by osmosis while it gives you lots of odd little fantasy creatures to chop up, courtesy of the mind of Spawn creator Todd McFarlane. It might look like a Dreamcast title warmed up - Sword of the Berserk with quivering slices of Grandia 2 stuck to its sword. It revels in enjoyable sub-God of War style violence, with slow motion bits and primary and secondary weapons, but also adds in button bashing mini-segments, cleverly implemented to snaffle more experience points to level up your character. 

Ah yes, levelling up – the art of making your character tougher so he can go and fight bigger and slimier creatures,  and the timeless mark of the RPG. Well, Amalur exhibits it’s depth here. You can craft the demeanour of your character (polite do-gooder or snotty peasant-murdering rogue) through chatter and actions, but also utilising its central concept of ‘Fateweaving’ you can pick your initial class – four playable races from humans to elves, with customizable upgrade routes in strength, speed and magic; they correspond to the fighter, rogue, and mage classes respectively all with blending routes, ensuring you’re never quagmired in a class. And if you get board of wielding a staff, wizards cape and wispy beard? Reset your attributes and pile them into another class. 

With such close alignment of story and core adventure elements, its character creation is rarely a chore, and feels strangely relevant to the story from the pen of pronounced fantasy scribe R. A. Salvatore. It’s cooly logical - wizards like robes to move quickly, brawlers need better armour to absorb punishment at close range.  It’s sensible – pick up items, resign junk to a ‘Junk’ box and sell en masse. Add to this skills in alchemy for magical powers and craftsmanship, you’ve got enough depth for the more hardcore fantasy mark – allowing you to customise your hero to the hilt.

Barging in a second after a thorough rutting by Skyrim’s tumescence is a bold task, and Amalur will ultimately fall foul of a broad genre classification. But whereas Skyrim took every opportunity to shout ‘LOOK HOW GODDAMN EXPANSIVE I AM’ with it’s serious grown up voice, Amalur guides you quickly through it’s quirky yet coherent world and surprisingly easily introduces its central concept of the individuals fate of, and the art of foretelling. It’s got more brightly coloured Gnomes and shires than you shake a bodkin at, yet there’s also enough racial aggravation and moral ambiguity to keep you intrigued. 

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning just has enough to clout to make you feel like your actions play a part in something larger. There’s enough depth to be compelling, but its light and airy enough to enjoyed casually, and crucially rarely feels like a chore. 38 Studios founder Curt Schilling said that the game would be a “marriage between God of War and Oblivion”. A bold statement, but on 15 hours of playthrough, seems like the couple are settling into matrimony quite nicely. 

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is out on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.

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