Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Game Spotlight - Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

Happy Tuesday all, I want to talk to you today about a relatively new game that I have been playing through recently - Kingdoms of Amalur : Reckoning.

Released on the 10th of February, I was expecting a lot from KoA:R; it had some great names working behind it including Ken Rolston, The lead designer of Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (a game I thoroughly enjoyed), and it had promised a lot of hours of gameplay in conjunction with a very highly spoken of combat system.

After a little deliberation with some gamer pals, I hopped on Steam and downloaded it the day after release and had the weekend to get stuck into to it.

First Impressions
I was a little underwhelmed at first, whilst there was the reasonably cool opening cinematic and scenes of action before you play, I immediately felt a little disconnected with the game. While the lore wasn't that hard to follow it seemed like the opening cinematic was more of a history lesson rather than something that gets excited and raring to go. But I shrugged that off and continued on to create my character.

Character creation
I always enjoy this part, it gives you an immediate connection to your character and helps you get immersed in the game. While the system in Reckoning isn't as detailed as something you'd find in one of Bethesda's RPG's, it still offers a nice level of customisation. You have four races to choose from and some basic face presets to begin your creation.

Not my actual character, Just an example.

Into the fray
Right, so the game begins. First off, if you are playing this game on the PC with a mouse and Keyboard and not a controller - the mouse sensitivity is outrageous, before I did anything  I had to turn it all the way down. Secondly I advise selecting press instead of hold to sprint for Left-Ctrl, believe me, your little finger on your left hand will thank me after playing for a couple of hours.

Now that's out of the way you can start to play. The tutorial is easy to follow and the combat begins, I found that really fun. The beginning tutorial also gives you a glimpse of each play style be it Warrior-type, Rogue-type or Wizard-type and you get to have a play around with a selection of weapons although not all. I felt the tutorial was done very well and helped you figure out what you will want to play.

The real game begins...
To avoid spoilering the rest of the game for you, I'm not going to describe the rest of the game in much detail, but I will give my feelings and an overview of many of the aspects.

First off - questing. Questing is standard practice in any RPG and the availability of side quests is very welcome in many to keep the game open and non-linear, which I feel is key to producing a successful RPG, however Reckoning, I think, has slightly overdone it. Aside from the main storyline there are multiple quest chains and factions available, so much so that the objectives of which seem to blur together and become very repetitive, you know, kill x amount of y, clear x area of y, go to place and activate or kill x. As other reviewers have noticed, the quest system seems more like something you'd expect from an MMORPG rather than a single player game and isn't really as engaging as I could have hoped.

Another thing I noticed is that I got a distinct feeling that the turmoil and danger in the world isn't very prevalent at all, at least in the first Three main areas - Dalentarth, Plains of Erathell and Deltyre. Sure there are nasty creatures to slay in each and people to help, but it really doesn't seem that you are making any world changing difference.

The main storyline, whilst having a couple of nice and new ideas felt very generic and wasn't something that reaches out and pulls the player in to a world of immersion, and again, especially during the earlier stages of the quest line, I felt I was doing a lot of unimportant busywork.

My Character mid-way through the game - Warrior build
Combat feels good in the game, with the option to change your speciality throughout by visiting an NPC. Playing one spec can become a bit stale after a while but with the option to change and with multiple weapons available keeping the action fresh is easily doable. Each spec has their own talent tree and their own spells to use so picking a combat style that suits you is easy - My personal favourite would be a Greatsword wielding warrior.

An example of one of the warriors' available spells 
The game does involve other features that help create the finished package, one of the most prominent would be the crafting which is quite well done in comparison to other systems I have encountered in the past, you craft gems, potions and Armour/weapons - each with a unique system. Admittedly they took me a little time getting used to, but once I had done a bit of each I had fun making potions and crafting armour.

To sum up, whilst being a game with a lot of content and good character customisation, Reckoning failed to deliver on one key point for me - I didn't feel immersed in Amalur at all. The side quests text felt so unimportant I even found myself skipping the descriptions and heading straight for the objectives - much like how I'd treat a daily or levelling quest in an MMO. However, Reckoning does provide on another front - its an easy game to get into and have fun with; the combat system was very well done and the fact that (I felt) the lore doesn't suck you in too much means I can go back and play an hour here and there.

Overall rating from me - 7/10

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