Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Review

Reckoning is out to prove that RPG’s don’t have to sacrifice exciting combat.

After completing Skyrim recently, Reckoning provides a refreshing change in gameplay with its dynamic and fluid combat system. The combat in Skyrim was clunky and uninteresting in comparison. Nothing would annoy me more than to start a standing power attack only to have the NPC backpedal two steps to completely avoid it while my character was stuck in combat animation swinging at the air expending stamina. In Reckoning, since the combat moves are done by pushing your attack button in a particular sequence, you can interrupt it in the middle and switch tactics. Even if you keep going on with your combat sequence, there is no penalty like lost stamina. One of the great things about combat in Reckoning is that they allow you to mix melee and magic attacks seamlessly. You can pick a primary and secondary weapon for your character to best suite your gameplay style. Switching between weapons in battle is completely fluid as different attack buttons are assigned to each. This allows for your character to adapt quickly to the situation. For example, if your fighting a single opponent with your daggers, but you find yourself getting surrounded by new opponents, you can switch and attack with the greatsword you have equipped as your secondary to make large sweeping moves. To satisfy your need for finishing moves, as your character attacks they build up energy in their fate meter which you can use once it is filled to enter a Reckoning mode to inflict extra damage and finish your opponent off with a fate shift kill. There are plenty of weapons to choose from, but if you really like games like God of War, you’ll probably stick with using the chakhrams. Regardless of which weapon you choose, as you specialize in them, you will unlock additional comat moves to unleash destruction upon your foes.

Fate Shift Kill

Character customization in Reckoning implemented well with skill trees versus character classes. Your character is not placed into a specific class role, but can instead create their own by mixing skills from the three trees of might, sorcery, and finesse. The three trees basically represent the classic warrior, mage, or rogue respectively. The trees allow you to increase passive and activated skills, as well as specializations for weapons. The implementation reminds me of skill trees in World of Warcraft, where you can choose to place points into whatever tree you like, but you need to put in at least 5 points in each level before proceeding further down the tree. To ensure that you never regret your choice, you can always have your skills reset by visiting a Fate Weaver in the game. In addition to character customization, you can use professions to augment your character’s stats and gear. The Sagecraft profession allows you to create gems which you can socket into armor to enhance their stats or into weapons to give them elemental damage. Items you collect throughout the game can be salvaged for reagents or alternatively you can spend your time harvesting reagents around the world if you have high enough skill.

The world of Amalur is graphically beautiful and open, in a sense. While technically an open-world game where you can travel from location to location freely, you might be restricted by monsters if your character is not high enough level. The world is split up into a collection of zones connected together by paths versus the free roaming world found in Skyrim. Each location in the world feels visually distinguishable from each other. The art style in the game is reminiscent of Worlds of Warcraft. Reckoning has the more cartoonish art direction versus the high detail and realism found in Skyrim. Still, the visual appeal to the game is pleasing, especially during combat. The combat animations when your unleashing combos are very satisfying or when your sneaking up behind someone for a stealthy kill by stabbing them repeatedly while you keep their mouth covered.

Cutscenes and conversations in Reckoning are nicely done, but it does not stand out in my mind as much as the ones in Dragon Age 2. Perhaps it’s the lack of really dramatic camera angles used in the cutscenes or the fact that my character is standing there quietly versus having a voice of their own during conversations. Both of these elements I think help make a player more invested in the conversation, be it for the main narrative or just a random quest. I think I might be spoiled in that aspect. Other than that, the story line in Reckoning so far, which was crafted by the famous fantasy writer, R.A. Salvatore, has been very entertaining. There is plenty of lore to be discovered, which RPG’ers will love. As you progress through the storyline, the game pushes you along to explore the world, so you get a more guided experience which I actually find to be nice. Completely open-world games are nice, but sometimes the main plot doesn’t stand out as much as the side quests and your sense of accomplishment is diminished when you complete it. Reckoning provides a nice in-between for gamers who like to roam a bit but still provide that satisfaction of completing a monumental event when you finish the story.

All in all, I think Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a great game that RPG fans will enjoy, unless you prefer the more strategic, party-based role-playing games. Reckoning seem to be a great marriage between role-playing and action games, providing fun, exciting combat while not sacrificing the elements we come to expect in a great role-playing games like character development and a great narrative.

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