Past Blasts

Looking Back at Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning

You were given the chance to choose your destiny...

Do you remember the good old days, when video games put fast hack-and-slashing combat sequences and extensive levelling systems first and a deep narrative with memorable characters second? BigHuge Games certainly banked on gamers holding some kind of nostalgia for those titles of yore with their fantasy RPG Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning. However, depending on your preferences, their ambitious open-world title may appear to have backfired in its retro homage.

You need only sense the feeling of lacking innovation that pervades Reckoning’s storyline to see just how much emphasis it places on its gameplay- you’ll find your character resurrected from the dead into an ancient war between the mortal races and their immortal tyrants, and thanks to your selective amnesia, in essence, you’re given the chance to choose your destiny, branching off into any skill set and reputation that suits your play style. Various fantasy stereotypes like the intimidating wise councils, the ancient royal families and their descendants are employed constantly and regularly, to the point that you’ll find yourself almost completely devoid of empathy or emotive connection to any of the identikit races that you come across.

This sounds like an exciting premise at first, but it’ll quickly become apparent that the supposedly limitless choices at your disposal are markedly more finite than they are in Skyrim. Far from being able to forge your fate and have your name become either one that instils fear or pleasure across the kingdom that lies before you, all of the separate towns and villages just feel like isolated mission areas whose population only have an inclination to you based on the pre-determined actions you perform throughout the entirety of the forty-hour campaign and the various (repetitive) side missions.

The moment that it becomes obvious that your actions are having very little major change on the game world around you is precisely the point at which you’ll realise that Reckoning is far less immersive and compelling to blitz through than any recent RPG legends.

That the game’s graphics are sub-par at best- unlikely to have looked out of place on the PS2 or the original Xbox in a similar vein to Fable– doesn’t help, either. Electronic Arts didn’t place much faith in the Kingdoms franchise based on the underwhelming locales and character models that must surely be the result of a restrained budget.

The game’s one saving grace is undoubtedly its fine combat- harkening back to classics like God of War, it’s fast-paced and dynamic (even more so than Skyrim at times), boasting a genuinely arcadey style that is easy to pick up and develop on as you progress your character’s skills and abilities. If BigHuge could have worked on making every element of the game experience as refined and unique as this, we might have ended up with a more satisfactory overall product than we got with Reckoning.

Everything about Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning feels a little dated, its woefully recycled plot suffering the worst in a period where video gaming narratives had evolved to become such deep and engaging experiences. Although if I’m being nice, you still may be able to get some fun out of this.

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5 comments

  1. I played that game for over 130 hours total! And for $12 bucks (bought it used last year) it’s one of the better games I’ve ever bought. They don’t make one-player games like that anymore…

  2. I can understand complaints of a repetitive nature, but even in that circumstance, you can run through the main story and exist the side missions and quests. Other than that, I’ve just never understood the hate this game can get. I feel like it’s either short-sighted or off-genre gamers ripping it, and they probably wouldn’t have appreciated it, anyway.

    First, the game is gorgeous. Rip the graphics, if you like (saying they’re be in place on a PS2 or an XBOX is hyperbole, writer), but the world that was created was beautiful. The music, the scenery, and the attention to the experience you’re given is notable. Sure, dungeon areas can feel repetitive, but as big as the game is, asking then to sink that much time and money into them is more than needed.

    Anyone who says the fantasy tropes feel stereotypical isn’t paying enough attention. The concept is that you’re in a world bound by fate, and your destiny can change its very fibers. The Summer and Winter Courts with the eternally repeating stories was one of several great applications of this, and details that convinced you of a larger story and world. The world itself, for those interested in lore, is pretty expansive and deep. Deep enough that I’ve created an entire world for a D&D game largely from it’s inspiration.

    The items and weapons we’re unique and interesting, and the ability to craft new ones meant you’d have an awesome looking sword in your hand, with badass looking armor, and all at your customisation. Again, not unique, but very cool, and better than what you get in a lot of offerings.

    Is the game exemplary? No. But damnit if it’s not worth a play and the time. Anyone who appreciates the game’s strengths is thankful for it. Those who don’t probably wouldn’t have liked the game, anyway. Hell, the reviewer, at one point, seemed to imply that Skyrim’s combat was notable and enjoyable, using it as a benchmark against this game’s. Skyrim’s combat is downright awful, and largely unwieldy. That didn’t give me any confidence in the reviewer’s perspective or taste.

    Play the game, if you’re reading this, and fantasy open world games sound appealing to you. The combat is awesome, the lore is engaging, and the game itself is beautiful. I’m not saying it’s for everyone, and it’s definitely not perfect, but it’s way more than its given credit for.

  3. Uhm, no. “it’s fast-paced and dynamic (even more so than Skyrim at times)”…..Maybe I played a different Skyrim than you. Nothing in Skyrim is fast or dynamic lol. As for Kingdoms of Amalur, it’s one of the most enjoyable rpg’s I’ve played in a long time.

What do you think?