Reckoning: Kingdoms of Amalur - fun, but...

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Reckoning: Kingdoms of Amalur - fun, but...
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It’s also very bright and flashy. You can chain attacks, use combos, or just mash to heart’s content, and different weapons come with different attack speeds and combos. But the combat’s really only as involved as you want it to be, though it’s very rewarding the better you get at it.

The final bit of customisation you can enjoy links directly back to your unique ability to change your own fate. It’s basically a card system, not unlike a Tarot, where you choose a given Fate, and get access to some boosted abilities. However, you unlike different Fates as you advance through the talent trees, meaning you’ll usually be able to really focus on a certain play-style. Some of these even make changes to basic abilities, like turning your dodge into a damage-dealing teleport.

Choose your own
Outside of the combat, though, some of the game’s quests, and the world of Amalur itself, are quite interesting. One early chain of quests really impressed me, as it involved becoming King of a whole faction – there’s no drip-feeding here, and like the constant amount of treasure and cool gear you’ll need to pawn off, the game gives you some very satisfying storytelling rewards, too.

But as you explore the wider world, the limits do start to get annoying. We mentioned Skyrim earlier, and if there’s one area where Reckoning compares poorly it’s in terms of exploration – there really isn’t any. Instead, you’re blocked and channelled all over the place, forever seeing interesting spots that you can never get to. The fact that there’s no ability to jump from anything other than appointed spots makes this even more glaring, as you’ll constantly find a mess of low obstacles that cannot be overcome.

The game’s engine and art style are also obvious hints that this was meant to be an MMO. The environment’s very open, with obvious hubs around the place, and none of the clutter you’d expect in a modern singleplayer game. It's pretty enough, but it's hardly pushing the boundaries of game design, and if anything it all looks a little too derivitive of other big name franchises - but that's fantasy for you. There really are only so many ways you can draw a wolf or a bear or a troll.

Too, you often end up with a companion for a given part of a quest, which again makes me think of classic escort quests in MMOs. If anything, it’s the best way to describe the game is World of Warcraft without the World bit. Similarly, while every NPC is voiced, the player isn’t, which seems a glaring omission.

When it excels, Reckoning delivers fantasy action better than almost any other game we can think of – it’s a Diablo level of smoothness. And there’s a lot of content to get through, so if you’re looking for a single game to take up a mess of time, this is a top choice. But it’s not quite all there; the missing MMO part of the game exists almost like some cognitive ghost, informing and shaping Reckoning despite not being present.

But it’s not going to stop us playing – at least until the enduring pull of Skyrim exerts its frosty presence over us again!

Reckoning: Kingdoms of Amalur
4 6
Verdict
It’s a fantasy romp that’s fun, if a little flawed.
Overall
• Electronic Arts: reckoning.amalur.com
Developer: 38 Studios + Big Huge Games Publisher: Electronic Arts
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