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Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Preview

As an open world, high-fantasy adventure, the release of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is certain to draw comparisons to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. After all, it’s been less than two months since Bethesda published their magnum opus. Despite a richness that permeates both the lore and visual splendor of both titles, scrutiny reveals that the games are substantially distinct, offering two dissimilar interpretations of sword and sorcery archetypes.

One of the most conspicuous elements of Reckoning is its handling of combat. Although the game is still crunching statistics such as hit points, magic resistance and effectiveness of weapons, all these calculations are well concealed from players. Instead, gamers are encouraged to become absorbed in the visceral, dynamic combat which has the responsiveness and tempo of a refined action title. Whether players lean toward ranged, melee or magic weapons, Reckoning sidesteps the immersion-breaking clumsiness often associated with switching arms and aiming, perceptively focusing on the nearest threat. Like Skyrim, the title also abandons the rigid character classes of fantasy lore, allowing players to cultivate satisfying hybrid equally adept at sword as well as spell.

Complementing the game’s formidable weaponry is Reckoning’s skillful AI, which can often challenge a player’s mastery of blocking and parrying. While low-level experience fodder abound, the title’s more aggressive foes are particularly interesting, exhibiting conspicuous attack patterns (like the pack of wolves which encircled to prohibit escape, then attacked at opposing sides). Likewise, antagonists have a mind of their own, fleeing when critically injured or occasionally directing their ire at an unfortunate NPC.

Beyond combat, blacksmithing and potion creation are capable of seizing a gamer’s attention. The former task simulates vocational expertise as players gradually learn how to construct new, more robust weapons and armors after successfully crafting rudiments. Gratifyingly, players can reclaim the best components of two similar items- creating a more powerful tool with Reckoning’s salvage mechanic.  With a myriad of functional flora growing around Amalur’s realm, alchemy can be an absorbing trade- especially once player sink points into the skill which increases the likelihood of successfully harvesting ingredients. Hardcore potion producers may want to pre-order the game, as a diving rod capable of seeking out reagents is one of the perks for locking in a purchase.

Although much has been written about Reckoning’s synergistic pairing of R.A. Salvatore and Todd McFarlane, some remarkable nuances have been overlooked. Whereas most western role-playing characters are notably static during conversation, the Amalur’s personalities continue to display life-like traits, exhibiting suitable facial expressions and occasionally allowing their body language to divulge their demeanor. Pragmatically, the game’s engine is capable of articulating the land of Amalur- which except for the sporadic framerate sputter when a crown of enemies attack and slightly truncated draw-distance, keeps the action consistently engaging.

Building on the experience gained from crafting PC pleasers such as Rise of Nations and the Asian Dynasties expansion for Age of Empires III, Big Huge Games and 38 Studios have undoubtedly taken on an immensely ambitious project. Yet, the recent Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning demo demonstrated that this rich amalgam of talent could pull off the unprecedented, and deliver an elaborate, satisfying sandbox capable of bewitching the most fastidious fantasy fanatic.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert ‘DesertEagle’ Allen is Tech-Gaming’s resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

30 comments

  1. I really liked the demo, even though it froze up on me 3 times.

    Nice feel to the combat.

  2. Am I the only one who didn’t follow the storyline? It was a little confusing for me.

    Other than that I liked the feel of the game. Dialog was good and mostly optional. I’ll probably pick this one up.

  3. Glowing previews lead to ‘just ok’ or ‘bad’ reviews. I’ll wait before dropping any money on a preorder.

    • From the demo, I’d say this won’t be getting less than 80, 8.0 or B’s from most outlets that care about fair reviewing. Which means if D-toid needs hits, Sterling could get all 3.0 on Reckoning.

      • Someone is going to complain about it using the same fantasy stereotypes, I can just feel it.

      • If you’re taking Jim Sterling (or Destructoid) seriously, then you’re doing it all wrong. Its suposed to be irreverent and HUMOROUS.

    • Hopefully, you guys will reviw it before it luanches.

  4. The action felt a little too arcadey too me. Ripping through boxes and crates felt too GoW.

  5. Skyrim seemed to want to create this realistic world where dragon and magic happen to exist. Amalur just says, “Fuck it” have fun. That’s really promising.

  6. “Building on the experience gained from crafting PC pleasers such as Rise of Nations and the Asian Dynasties expansion for Age of Empires III, Big Huge Games has undoubtedly taken on an immensely ambitious project.”

    What about 38 Studios?

  7. I’m really rooting for these guys to deliver in a big way. I can wait until Feb. 7th.

  8. I picked up Dark Souls this weekend, after hearing the whole industry gush about it. I might well be a great game, but it’s not FUN to play. I should have put the money toward Reckoning.

    • Yeah, I feel the same way. I’ve tried picking it up at least 4 times and getting frustrated each damn time.

  9. say what you want about draw distance, but the camera is the demo was actually pretty good and barely got in the way.

  10. I haven’t played the demo so excuse the ignorance.

    How does leveling work in Reckoning? Do items gain experience?

    • From what I could tell it was pretty standard. Killing things gave you XP. New levels meant more skills. Skyrim’s system has yet to be beat.

  11. I haven’t read a single R.A. Salvatore book. (don’t judge). Looking forward to this, I want to read one. Are there any that go along well with Reckoning.

  12. Does the main character talk in later builds?

  13. I noticed on your carousel that you have 3 RPGs (out of 5). Have you guys ever had 5/5?

  14. Tim the Enchanter

    Thanks guys. I wouldn’t mind a weekly preview from you in addition to the reviews.

  15. Wasn’t expect much from the demo, because I barely heard of the game. Figured it had mages and rangers and stealing which is good enough for me.

    Tried it and really liked it. Combat feels real good and more importantly it’s fun. Never really like Skyrim’s battles.

  16. I’ll be be grabbing this on launch day. I can’t wait.

  17. Cybernetic LoveElf

    How recent was the demo. I liked the game but if definitely bad a few graphical issues. Nice long demo with lots of giveways attached is a great way to get your name out there.

  18. Downloaded the demo last night and two hours later, I’m sold. Great combat, good voices, and pretty decent graphics.

  19. Just put $5 down last night. The Gs clerk didn’t know anything about pre-order bonuses 🙁

    Can you tell us more about them?

  20. I could be in the minority here, but I thought the conversations slowed things down. Its clear they tried to make combat faster without become the button mash-mess that was Dragon Age 2 but dialog just isn’t that fun. Selecting options just alters the flow of info in most cases. It would be fun if you could really offend NPCs and maybe pick fights or get them to join you.

  21. I really hope the IRS gets my refund to me so I can buy this.

    Pitting my faith in the speed of the government seems like it might end in failure, though.

  22. You may not compare it to Skrrim, but your “You might also like” widget does. Hmmm.