Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning PS3 Review

Publisher – EA – Developer – Big Huge Games – Genre – Action RPG – Players – 1 – Age Rating – 15+ – Other console/handheld formats – Xbox 360

If anything, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a coming together of some very talented people. The lead creative designer of the game, Ken Rolston, has previously worked on the Elder Scrolls series, famed fantasy author R.A. Salvatore was the man responsible for  bringing to life the universe, while Spawn creator Todd MacFarlane worked on the artwork and Grant Kirkhope (known for the likes of GoldenEye’s amazing score) composed the music. Indeed, the game certainly has the talent, and thus always had the potential to be something quite special.

R.A. Salvatore’s universe sees your amnesia suffering character (who you can design the appearance of, choose the race and whatnot) get revived after he was killed in unknown circumstances before the events of the game, which brings about a nice little mystery to sink your teeth into. There’s also a war going on between mortals and the immortal Tuatha, but such is the richness of the universe, things can become a little complicated to follow. If you are a fantasy fan and you can put up with clichés, you will most likely lap it all up. For those who have grown tired of generic fantasy universes, well Kingdoms of Amalur’s own is very generic, thus you might want to skip this one.

The world of Amalur itself is vast in size, and there’s even some bright colours that really bounce out of the screen. Environments are wide open with plenty of looting and monster slaying to be done, and outside of the main storyline there’s plenty of side quests to find all over the place. You could lose yourself in Amalur for hours upon hours, and you may never want to leave it.

Looting is regularly an important element of an RPG, and here you’ll most likely find yourself developing your lock picking skills early to get your hands on the valuable items in the many locked chests that you’ll stumble across. Your character has some very deep pockets in his armour, although it’s still possible to run out of space. Handily you can destroy objects in your inventory, and you’ll even be able to get some cash from their destruction if you have the required skill. You can also move items into a junk area, making it easy to sell all your unwanted items at once, and you’ll also be able to store some of your items away eventually.

Combat is very action-based, and you’ll find yourself swinging your swords, releasing arrows, tossing magic spells, raising your shield and rolling around all very simplistic. There’s a grace to the combat that just cannot be found in some other similar games, and, as there’s typically a lot of monsters to kill, this is a very good thing. Combat also boasts the Reckoning mode, in which you can unleash when a bar is at its full charge – raising the amount of damage that can be inflicted on enemies, and during this time it’s possible to earn bonus experience by fateshifting, which happens through a button mashing mini game.

There are three combat classes, of which allow you to freely distribute experience points to. If you visit a Fateweaver, the game also generously allows you to pay up to reset all your skill points, giving you back all your spent points, which will certainly prove to be very satisfying to those who enjoy experimenting with different skills.

Weapon and potion crafting is also a possibility when you visit the many towns, cities and small hamlets that can be found in Amalur. Obviously, you’ll need the materials to craft your own equipment, although there’s something wholly satisfying about having the goods, putting them all together and, for example, creating a sword of your own. You can even christen your creation with a name of your own invention.

Visually, Kingdoms of Amalur is a relatively attractive game. It’s the art style that really captures the eye, with a similar look to the Fable series, it’s the bright colours that makes Amalur such a beautiful place. There is some framerate issues, pop-up from time to time, and characters that could have quite frankly had some more detail in them, but the game is still technically efficient enough to draw you into its world. Aurally, Voice acting is generally believable, while the sparse music does the job whenever it chimes in.

If you are wanting a fantasy universe to be something wholly unique, then the genericness won’t sit well with you, but Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a wonderful start to what is hopefully a beginning of a series. There’s hours upon hours of gameplay to be found, and enough distractions outside of all the questing and looting in Amalur. The combat is of a very high standard, and the vast world has plenty of things to see and do within it.