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Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Review (2012)

Kingdoms of Amular Review

 

  Today we will be taking a look at the PC version of the game Kingdoms of Amalur, the very first game developed by 38 Studios founded by former pitcher Curt Schilling. Originally planned as an MMO, development on the game eventually switched to make it a single player game.

 

  The people of Amalur lived in peace with the Fae, but one of the Fae known as Gadflow and his followers the Tuatha seized power at the winter court, murdering the current king. Gadflow believes that a new god will rise in the east and he is preparing the way for this new power by going to war against the mortal races.

 

  You begin Kingdoms of Amalur dead... well that was a quick game. Two gnomes are rolling your carcass on a cart, filling out the paper work that they need to do before dumping you in the garbage pit.

 

I feel happy

I am not dead yet.

 

  As they pull back the sheet covering your body you enter the character customization screen. The first choice you make is whether your character will be male or female; next you choose one of the following four races, gaining special racial bonuses depending on your choice.

 

Almain: The Almain are a warlike and religious nation of a storied origin. Many Almain come to the Faelands seeking freedom, while honoring the traditions of their homeland.

  Racial bonuses; Blacksmithing +2, Alchemy +1, Persuasion +1.

 

Varani: Hardened by the high seas, the Varani are just as frequently pirates and mercenaries as they are shrewd merchants. They favor swords and daggers as seaworthy weapons.

  Racial Bonuses; Lock picking +2, Detect Hidden +1, Mercantile +1.

 

Ljosalfar: The Ljosalfar are a proud and ancient people from the frozen lands of the north. Ljosalfar judge themselves fit to divine right from wrong under wind, sun, and sky, and mete an even-handed justice.

  Racial Bonuses; Dispelling+2, Alchemy +1, Sage craft +1.

 

Dokkalfar: Dokkalfar are renowned as sophisticated students of magic and diplomacy. While they do not shy from conflict, they prefer to resolve disputes subtly and with grace, or efficiently, in silence.

  Racial Bonuses; Stealth +2, Persuasion +1, Sage craft +1.

 

  Each of the races has a different look and set of appearance customizations.

 

Races Almain, Varani, Ljosalfar, and Dokkalfar

Almain male and female, Varani male and female, Ljosalfar male and female, and Dokkalfar male and female.

 

  Once you have chosen a race you get to select which of the gods of Amalur that your character follows, the choice that you make will give your character an additional bonus.

 

Gaea: Goddess of Earth.

  Bonus; +5% to elemental resistance.

 

Ohnshan: God of Air.

  Bonus; +6% to lightning damage, +6% to lightning resistance.

 

Ethene: Goddess of Wisdom.

  Bonus; +10% to mana.

 

Mitharu: God of Order.

  Bonus; +5% to health, +5% to mana.

 

Ynadon: God of Justice.

  Bonus; +10% to health.

 

  You can even select to follow no god at all and still receive a bonus of +1% to all of the experience that you gain.

 

  The next step in character creation is to select one of five different presets for the look of your character; this will take you into another sub-menu where you will be able to customize the face, hair, and accessories, that make up your characters appearance.

 

  The final step in character creation, after a brief cinematic is the choice of a name for your character.

 

  You awaken from death on a huge pile of rotting fly covered corpses (and you thought your morning started out bad).

 

Awake amongst the dead

This is going to be, a two cups of coffee morning.

 

  Thus begins the tutorial for Kingdoms of Amalur. Movement on the PC is with the standard W, A, S, and D, keys. F is used as the action/ talk to NPC's key. Camera movement is via the mouse. The camera angle is locked so you cannot scroll in or out. This can be very frustrating and furthermore you will find yourself constantly facing the wrong way when fighting or defending against enemies.

 

  Kingdoms of Amalur uses an active defense system, you can dodge out of the way of enemy attacks by holding one of the movement keys and pressing the spacebar or if you have a shield handy you can bring it up to block attacks by pressing and holding the shift key. One of the odd design choices that Studio 38 made was that your character will put away their weapons when defending with a shield, instead of sword and board style you get to fight like a non shield throwing Captain America.

 

Sword and board demotivational poster

At least cap looks awesome even when he is screwing up.

 

  Attacks are made with the left mouse button, while selected spells are cast with the right mouse button (You can switch between different spells with the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 0 keys).

 

   As you perform different combos and attacks you build up a fate meter that allows you to enter a special combat mode by pressing and holding the X button. This mode slows down the action and increases the amount of damage that your attacks can do. Once you have an enemy beaten down the letter F will appear over their head, you can move on to beat down other enemies (while still holding the X key the whole time), or press the F key to perform a mortal combat style fatality on your opponent.

 

  Another benefit of entering this mode and performing the fatality maneuver is that you will get a chance to increase the experience points that you gain by defeating that opponent.

 

 Combine the bad camera angles, active defense, and keyboard gymnastics that you will be performing in combat and you have the perfect storm of frustration. When I first started out this game, I felt like I was playing with Resident Evil 1 controls.

 

  Kingdoms of Amalur was definitely developed for console play, if you have an X-Box 360 controller handy I highly suggest using it over the keyboard and mouse.

 

Video game math Kingdoms of Amalur

Video game math.

 

  Character progression is via the tried and true leveling system of most RPG's. There are nine different base skills that your character can train in.

 

Alchemy: Allows you to harvest reagents from nodes and make potions.

 

Blacksmithing: Ability to create new weapons and armor and repair the ones you currently have.

 

Detect Hidden: One of the best abilities in the game, it allows you to find hidden treasure troves, traps, secret doors, and enemy ambush sites. Put enough points into it and these things will even be marked on your mini map.

 

Dispelling: Several chests in the game have magical traps that can only be dispelled by playing a mini game, adding points in dispelling makes this mini game easier or raises the chance of automatically succeeding at dispelling the ward.

 

Lock picking: Several chest in the game are locked requiring that you play a little mini game that uses lock picks. Putting points into lock picking makes this mini game much easier.

 

Mercantile: Increases the amount of gold that you get from selling junk and decreases the prices that you pay to merchants for items.

 

Persuasion: Sometimes you are given a small chance to change the outcome of a conversation using persuasion; the more points dedicated to this skill the greater the chance that you will succeed.

 

Sage craft: Ability to create magical gems and the ability to place them in socketed items.

 

Stealth: Helps you to sneak up on enemies to perform a coup de grace.

 

  To keep you from maxing out a single skill with all of your bonuses and choices right away, the developers split the skills up into three separate ranks (basic, advanced, and master). Each of these ranks has four slots to fill and the later ranks have minimum level requirements before you can spend points in them (advanced level 8, and master level 16).

 

  Kingdoms of Amalur uses the familiar holy trinity of RPG's but with a twist. Each level you gain 3 points that you can put into class abilities, but you can put them into any of the three classes (sorcery, might, and finesse). Much like talent trees in other games you need to spend a certain amount of points in a tree to unlock skills further up the tree.

 

Cleric Demotivational poster no room in the holy trinity

Everyone forgets the lowly healer till crap hits the fan.

 

  I love games that allow you to multi class, and in Kingdoms of Amalur you basically design the class based on how you want to play.

 

  The final step in leveling is selecting a destiny, depending on how you spent the points in the class section of leveling determines which bonuses you will have available to you in the destiny section.

 

  There are eight basic destinies. You can only have one destiny equipped at a time and can change it each time that you level or you can visit a fateweaver and pay to refund all of your skill points (both class and basic skills), allowing you to completely rework the character.

 

  The eight different destinies are;

 

Fateless One

Might

Finesse

Sorcery

Finesse/Sorcery

Might/Sorcery

Might/Finesse

Might/Finesse/Sorcery

 

Alucard?

Alucard?

 

  Everyone in the Kingdoms of Amalur has a predestined fate; you are the exception to this rule. Because you have no fate of your own your very presence and actions rewrite the fates of everyone around you. Those who should have died now live on; some who should have lived now die. The whole world is changing.

 

  The idea behind this concept is an interesting one and weaves very nicely into an epic story as you go forth to avenge your death, stop a war, and discover just what is going on.

 

  Studio 38 did not pull any punches when selecting talent to work on this game, R.A. Salvatore was brought in as part of the writing team and Todd McFarlane was brought in on the art team.

 

Kingdoms of Amalur Art

Stop... Hammer time.

 

  I cannot say enough about the music that you will experience in Kingdoms of Amalur, a lot of games recently have had me cue up my iTunes so that I could have something decent to listen to while I enjoyed a game, but that was not needed here. The music had an almost fairytale quality to it that really goes well with the setting.

 

Final verdict for Kingdoms of Amalur 8/10 A very fun game with a lot of depth, hampered on the PC with bad camera angles and controls. I would suggest picking it up on a console or purchasing an X-Box 360 controller for use on a PC.

 

~Professor

 

 

 

 

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