Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Review
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Dev: 38 Studios
Publisher: EA
Genres: RPG
Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC
Release Date: 10/02/12
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Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Review

Site Score
Good: Beautiful visuals - colourful, magical, and often glittery
Bad: Waypoint questing can get rather samey
User Score
(24 votes)
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VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.3/10 (24 votes cast)

If you’ve been soldiering through Skyrim’s scenery for the past few months, now might be the time when you’ve just about finished everything it has to offer. Fancy a new RPG to get your teeth into? Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning might just be your answer.

I didn’t really want to start talking about Reckoning with a comparison, but it is so hard to get away from in the RPG genre, so I’m just going to get it out of the way and move on. I like to think of Reckoning as the game that is squashed nicely on the role-playing bed between Fable and Skyrim. It’s almost as though 38 Studios and Big Huge Games saw the mistakes that Lionhead made with Fable 3 (and some could argue, Fable 2), and developed something far better in some respects.

It is not quite the serious, technically stunning game that Skyrim is, but Reckoning brings it’s own style and fighting mechanics to give a punch to the face of the RPG genre. With a team fronted by Ken Rolston, lead designer of both Elder Scrolls titles Morrowind and Oblivion, R. A. Salvatore, fantasy and sci-fi novelist extraordinaire, Todd McFarlane, comic book artist (best known for creating Spawn, and his work on the Spider-Man comics), and Grant Kirkhope, known for writing the musical scores for some of today’s best loved games (including Perfect Dark, Donkey Kong, and Viva Piñata), Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning already had a pretty good start off the block.

Reckoning begins with a story; one of fate, fantasy, and mystery. You play as a dead person… well not technically dead, more along the lines of ‘resurrected.’ After being a test subject for some rather uncanny research, you are thrown onto a pile of other failed experiments, of which you are all pronounced dead. That is of course until you wake up stinking of rotting corpses and blue waffle. As it turns out the experiment you became a part of was one known as ‘The Well of Souls’, which was an attempt to bring people back to life, and up until now (and according to the mountain of dead bodies laying around) it didn’t work all that well.

After escaping the place you wake up in, and getting to grips with the rather nifty combat system, you emerge out into the vibrant and sparkly world of Amalur. From here you meet a beardy guy, who explains that you no longer have a set fate, which is something unheard of until your lab-rat self turned up. You are free to explore any avenue the world throws at you; choose your fighting style, weapon classes, reactions in conversations… and if you want to change your mind mid-game, you can simply find the fate-guy again, get all your used experience points back, and choose a different path (for a price of course).

There are a range of weapon classes to choose from; longswords, daggers, huge hammers, staffs, chakrams, bows, faeblades… the list goes on. To begin with my Varani female named Guinevere opted for a comically large hammer, and a pair of chakrams (circular throwing weapons) for longer distance as my secondary weapon. I also added the Mass Effect 3 armour, unlocked by playing the demo, to the mix and already Guin was a badass! The armour seemed to give me a considerable advantage at the beginning of the game, and everything I picked up or could have bought just didn’t match or better the stats my ME3 suit was providing. If you want to play this game without feeling like you’ve cheated a wee bit, I would advise trying your luck without the suit. Sure it looks pretty, and yes it was a lovely incentive for all you Shepard fans out there, but it’s a bit too much of a leap for the difficulty once you put it on, and when it’s time to find something a bit better. It took quite a while for me to pick up armour worth swapping the Shep-gear for, and after I did I felt as though the game slowed considerably, mostly because I was getting my ass handed to me.

Even though my main focus seems to be melee combat, there is always the option to go down the route of becoming a mage or a rogue. You can even mix it up and have a bit of everything. Sometimes I like to throw in a few spells for good measure while smashing the brains out of a mountain troll with my shiny hammer… you can create any fighting style you feel comfortable with. The combat feels heavy and brutal with any technique you choose, and using your ‘Fateshift’ is the icing on the cake. This is pretty much your special move, which needs to be powered up while fighting, and used at opportune moments. Everything slows down, and you get to unleash some crazy-ass power moves to any enemy that happens to be around at the time, which is always satisfying and often life-saving especially with the larger beasties you come up against.

If you fancy yourself an alchemist, or a blacksmith, you can go whole-hog and create pretty much anything you fancy to pursue that ‘ultimate’ character. Parts and ingredients can be looted from a variety of places around the game, including corpses, trunks, plants, and furniture. Be warned though, carrying too much can mean you can’t pick everything up that you might want to, so be prepared to sift through your inventory at often awkward times to either destroy or sell your not so interesting items.

As you progress through the story, your main aim becomes somewhat distorted, what with the considerably large amount of side-quests you can pick up, which are all pretty much based on waypoint searching. Walk here, talk to this person, collect this, kill that guy, go back to the first guy… job done. Sure you can just walk around the frequently beautiful landscape, but that doesn’t always mean you know what you’re doing. This could, for some people, be a good thing; it’s all about exploring and adventures after all. There have been times, however, where I got so swamped with side-quest markers I completely forgot what the main story quest was.

The good thing is you can always say no to smaller missions when they are offered to you, but then you might not level up enough to progress with ease through the principle journey. It’s a toss up between whether you want to run errands for people, and be a kick-ass warrior via the mass of experience points you can earn, or drag yourself through the main quests like a race-horse that’s been shot in the foot.

Travelling through the various locations brings with it sumptuous colours, dappled woodland clearings, luminescent flowers, cavernous… caves. Everything within the world of Amalur looks as though it has been sprinkled with a little pixie dust to make it that bit more magical. Although the art style is not remotely different to that of World of Warcraft, or an exaggerated Fable, it is very inviting, and aesthetically pleasing. There have been times, throughout my adventure, where I have found some of the characters a little underwhelming, and as I have said previously, the side-quests are often a bit dull however vital they might be to levelling up your character.

I haven’t bothered to listen to the majority of the tales that can be told by nearly everyone you meet in towns or the surrounding areas, as I don’t feel that connection with them that I have in some previous RPGs. I don’t feel as though I need to know the back-story to every person, or every area; only the bits that are specific to my quest at the time. During dialogue cut-scenes my mute Guinevere looks about as interested as I do at times, staring out into space without expression, misty eyed… then I follow the quest marker and do what needs to be done so I can be extra bad-ass.

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.

  • Beautiful visuals - colourful, magical, and often glittery
  • Great scope for customisation
  • Extensive gameplay

  • Slightly dull background stories for everyday characters
  • Waypoint questing can get rather samey

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a beautiful game to watch and adventure through, with a feeling of magic around every corner. The customisation avenues available for your character mean you can create pretty much any stylised warrior you want to, but there were a few points in which the game lacked that something special. These included the slightly mundane side-questing, however important to obtain experience points, which meant the main story was often forgotten for some time, and the dialogue between towns-folk (and sometimes main characters) was a little uninspiring. The fighting system is something that is both simple to get into, but amazing when you master it. Each blow from any weapon choice feels really damaging, and makes the combat feel meaty. For me, a 7.5 is a pretty good score, better than a 7 but just shy 8 and should leave you in no doubt that you should try out this game for the design and combat, while remembering that maybe not all the dialogue trees and side-quests are worth exploring,

Jennifer Ann

The editor and Queen of the Cosmos of this 'ere site. I've asked some important people the wrong questions in interviews. I've spoken about my muff on the DBR Podcast. I also review games sometimes, when I'm not rolling around with bunny. I'm a girl gamer, ironically.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Review, 8.3 out of 10 based on 24 ratings

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  1. Ed Wilson
    February 13, 2012, 10:39 am

    Great read Jenn :) And I’m loving the game despite only playing a few hours so far – many more to be played!

  2. Kieran Semrau
    February 13, 2012, 10:48 am

    Nice review :).

    I’ve played 20 hours on it already with the main story and now moving on to the Faction quests and recently re-spec’d my character so theirs plenty to do but the only thing that bugs me is the camera.
    So annoying sometimes but I like the game.

    Shame theirs no co-op :/

    • Jennifer Taylor
      February 13, 2012, 12:10 pm

      I’ve noticed that the camera pans out during the bigger fights, which can get quite irritating because you then have to zoom in manually to actually see what you’re doing.

  3. Joey Dale
    February 13, 2012, 10:49 am

    Nice Jenn, Very Nice.

    I’m about 20 hours in at the moment and have only really just out of the the leafy green areas. Personally i think the game is stunning although it does suffer with some slowdown issues especially when fighting a horde of enemies and you use an attack that hits all of them at the same time (Chakrams save my life!). The other thing that does annoy me about the game is the fact that your attacks can always be interrupted and you can’t pull your shield out quick enough. That’s about it though for me, I can’t fault too much else with it at the moment.

    My Battlemage is getting stronger and I am very much looking forward to putting more into this game. It would get a 8/10 from me so far.

    • Jennifer Taylor
      February 13, 2012, 12:02 pm

      Why thank you Joey!
      I haven’t experienced any slow down yet, although I did get stuck on a troll…

  4. Tony
    February 13, 2012, 11:08 am

    Maybe I haven’t put enough hours into this yet but I’m finding far too much talking and I’m just struggling to care about the story\characters.

    Leveling up and the different character classes is brilliant. Going to stick with this for that alone but I wish for more adventure and fewer mundane chats.

    • Jennifer Taylor
      February 13, 2012, 12:00 pm

      I felt that was about a lot of the dialogue too. I just skip through the bits that matter for my quest, and rarely read anything below that on the dialogue list.

  5. Lee Williams
    February 13, 2012, 11:17 am

    I’m only 4 hours in but still in the same area as the demo. I think I must be doing something wrong :/

    • Joey Dale
      February 13, 2012, 11:30 am

      I think you are doing something right! There is so much to do! I’m thinking a Game Jar Round table to get everyone’s opinions on it!?

  6. wid069
    February 13, 2012, 11:56 am

    I’m only 6 hours in and I haven’t even scratched the surface on how much this game offers, however… I’m loving the exploration and keep stumbling about tonnes of loot, new locations which looks brilliant, and fighting loads of enemies.

    Since I got to the first village I have been doing side quests, exploring ever since.

    Nice read Jennifer! I would personally give the game a 8/10 so far from what I have played. GO OPINIONS GO! =D

  7. Raphael
    February 13, 2012, 5:30 pm

    Joey get it on PC and you wont have any slow downs ;) ( Sorry im a PC Lover and it really does look amazing on PC ).

    Good read Jenn bloody amazing game however im only a few hours in at the moment. The fast pace of the fighting etc is what I love ;)

  8. Lee Williams
    February 14, 2012, 10:47 pm

    I’m a bit further in now and really enjoying it – its nice and easy… not easy… mindless… hang on that don’t sound right either :/ – I’m starting to see what you mean about the conversations now though I’ve found my self shouting “shut up give me the quest” at the telly quite often now.

  9. james bowerbank
    February 15, 2012, 5:22 pm

    looking forward to playing it but gotta wait till the day of pay!! really want this but also really want Catherine, Great review Jen!!

  10. Paul Everitt
    February 15, 2012, 8:02 pm

    This game looks just amazing! However like James I’ll have to wait a little bit longer ;-)

Comments are now closed on this post.
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