PS3 Reviews: Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Review

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Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Review

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Overall Rating:       7.7



Online Gameplay:

Not Rated




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I’ve been struggling to answer a key question concerning Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning and unfortunately, I’ve been unsuccessful in finding an answer. The question is a difficult one— Is a game that attempts to blend multiple gameplay elements ambitious and innovative, or does it lack a sense of identity? In so many ways, I love the addictive combat and colorful lands in this RPG and in others, I think it could’ve been better had the designers settled on one particular style.

As I mentioned during my demo impressions write-up, Reckoning features an attractive blend of rich, lush visuals that reminds one more of Fable rather than the grittier, grayer Elder Scrolls franchise. Granted, the world of Amalur isn’t as refined or meticulously detailed and some graphic aficionados may scoff at this, but you can’t help but be swept up in the fantastical presentation. It’s another contrast, really: a game that doesn’t necessarily excel from a technical standpoint is just so pretty.

The sound benefits from a huge cast of solid voice actors, crisp effects, and a fitting soundtrack that accompanies our adventuring. Once again, no one element stands out and makes us go, “now that’s something special," but the end result is cohesive and oddly enticing. Perhaps it’s vague to say this title has a certain “quality” about it, but in my eyes, it’s an accurate description. The audio is much like the graphics, in that they do their jobs but they don’t often make a big fuss about their accomplishments. I like the voice acting, effects, and music…I just don’t love any of it.

First and foremost, I have to clarify a point that may disappoint some hardcore role-playing fans, especially after Final Fantasy XIII-2. In my review of Square Enix’s sequel, I said we actually play the game for the action, as the story and characters take a back seat to the surprisingly in-depth combat mechanic and open-ended exploration. Well, same goes for Kingdoms of Amalur so if you’re looking for a story-driven RPG with lots of cinematics and linear progression, look elsewhere.

This is more about a combination of crazy fun combat and as deep a leveling mechanic as will be found anywhere. Therefore, if you lose yourself in the seemingly endless process of slaying enemies, completing side-quests, and powering up, this game will absorb a fair portion of your life. It really will; there’s a lot here. There’s a huge amount of lore and there’s always someone to talk to, and always somewhere new to explore. There’s plenty to think about and it typically involves the advancement of your character, so micromanagement buffs are in for a treat.

Speaking of your character, without giving away anything plot-related, you actually start the game dead. Then you’re resurrected by the Well of Souls and your adventure begins; it’s a quest that involves intriguing concepts like fate and destiny (mixed in with a gigantic amount of fairytale goodness), but above all else, it focuses on player choice. Like many good RPGs, freedom of choice is a central component and your actions will definitely speak louder than words. The problem is that the somewhat bland storyline almost forces you to focus on the action.

But despite the generic nature of the story, the facelessness of your own character, and dialogue that can grate (many civilians take a long time to say very little), any time you’re in battle, you’re happy. Side-quests and other jobs and errands can be a little tedious and rarely feel inspired or fresh but again, it’s that drive to fight something else that keeps you going. And you’ve got such a robust character advancement and customization system that hours can disappear fast.

The control is good, as the lock-on mechanic works well and the enemies are varied and pose a decent challenge. There’s also great variety in the magic and other diverse abilities that you obtain, depending on the path you choose. The only issue I had involved the camera, which feels a tad loose and doesn’t always keep up with the hectic action; it can be extra annoying in tight, cramped areas. It was one of those eccentricities that didn’t cripple the gameplay; you just have to deal with it.

Here, I have to return to the introductory point: what is Reckoning? It’s clearly role-playing but at the same time, there are action-based gameplay aspects that you don’t typically find in any RPG. Furthermore, with such a heavy focus on combat and sort of a ho-hum main storyline, you almost feel as if you’re playing an extremely deep action game amidst a large fantasy world. I just hope it can satisfy the RPG fans who might’ve expected something a bit more traditional.

Not only does it look a little like Fable, the action/RPG combat is similar as well, although Reckoning definitely offers more depth, variety and customization. This is the reason I kept playing; it wasn’t due to the admittedly alluring scenery or the heavy amount of folklore worked into the presentation (I speak of lore outside the primary story, which isn’t all that great). No, I kept playing because the combat is plenty of fun and growing your character is a blast.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning does a lot of things right. It provides gamers with a beautiful world full of mystery and intrigue, and offers a battle mechanic that never grows tiresome. But any traditional role-playing traits seem underwhelming, as if some sacrifice was made for the sake of focusing on the rousing gameplay. The world itself, from the inhabitants to the design to the music and effects, is compelling and immersive. The depth is definitely there. It’s not technically superior but it’s competent on all levels. Therefore, it's a solid production.

But the end result feels…I dunno, split, I guess. I still can’t decide if it suffers from a lack of identity or if it successfully blends various traits and styles. I do know the storyline and quest objectives could’ve been better, and I know this super fast-paced action may cause RPG purists to go, “uh…this is an RPG?” Yeah, it is. One you want to play? Well, one you want to try, at least.

The Good: Good, colorful visuals. Nice sound and music. Combat is great and addictive. Always plenty to do and somewhere to go. Depth and character choice/freedom is top-notch. Immersive, enveloping world.

The Bad: Nothing really stands out besides the battle. Story is a little lacking despite great background lore. Camera can be iffy. Will RPG purists like it…?

The Ugly: “Nothing ugly, unless you say mundane, trifling side-quests are ‘ugly.’”

2/9/2012 Ben Dutka

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New Comment System

Legacy Comment System (31 posts)

Thursday, February 09, 2012 @ 9:45:16 PM

Played the demo and was somewhat entertaining but only that.I would go with Dark/Demons Souls over this any day.

Last edited by Oxvial on 2/9/2012 9:45:36 PM

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Thursday, February 09, 2012 @ 9:50:55 PM

I'll have to try the demo, but it sounds like I'll be waiting for the bargain bin if I get it. Just not enough free time to really justify it.

Agree with this comment 1 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Thursday, February 09, 2012 @ 10:02:52 PM

I've been seeing this game get 9+ scores and I personally didn't get it. It's not my type of game though so I'm biased. I prefer story driven games. Though I must say I'm enjoying XIII-2 and I don't mind the soundtrack except that stupid screamo boss music.

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Friday, February 10, 2012 @ 9:42:02 AM

I haven't played it yet. Is it anything like that music early in FFX when Zanarkand bites the dust during that CG scene that starts with the blitzball game?

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Friday, February 10, 2012 @ 1:16:14 PM

Wow, I forgot about that song. I'd say it's not as bad as the song in FFX. At least the song in XIII-2 has a decent beat.

Agree with this comment 3 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

Thursday, February 09, 2012 @ 10:43:57 PM

Never have I understood more than now that when someone reviews a game it's based on their own personal experience with a game. They don't speak for all the gamers. It's just their personal opinion.

With that understanding it was a very nice review Ben as always. I am 10 hours in and I just adore this game. It's just FUN! So far I haven't experienced a hiccup of any kind, it's been technically perfect. Well, I fixed my camera woes by lowering the sensitivity so that doesn't really count as a technical problem since it is now fixed for me. It is truly the jack of all trades for RPGs. They really have created something special. Does it have problems yes, no doubt, but so does Skyrim. Skyrim is a great game. KoAR is a great. They cannot really be compared. They both stand on their own 2 feet.

I love the combat, oh the combat is exceptional! The sound, graphics, control, story/lore are wonderful. The graphics are gorgeous to my eyes. You have beautiful colors and dark dungeons. The world map looks huge! I am reading more books and scraps than I usually do in an RPG. I am very interested in the history of Amalur. Salvatore has done a wonderful job. There is always something new going on. There are a ton of quests. The leveling system is great. I am really enjoying the Alchemy, Blacksmithing and world itself. The Fateweaver is a great idea for tying massive character fate alterations into the story. The loot is huge and prevalent. I have found many items that upgraded above what I was currently using. The enemy design is second to none. You can see Todd McFarlane's genius here.

There are problems and they are in the design. I didn't like how the hero didn't speak. Reminds me of Half-Life yet I didn't mind that Gordon didn't talk. But seeing my character stand there with no real emotion reminds me of someone who isn't quite right or has some sort of deficiency. The NPC lip syncing could use some work as well. The magic shield appearing out of no where bothers me too. I also don't like how my warrior sheaths his weapon so fast after killing an enemy even though other enemies are around. Also, the camera needs to be adjustable so you can make it farther away from your character. I believe that these design decisions can be fixed in a patch if the Reckoning forums are any indication of how much it bothers players.

I cannot wait to pour more time into this special game. I can only hope it sells well so that they can come out with a sequel. I won't be interested in the MMO offering. However I am so very impressed that this their first game! Unreal, that they could hit a grand slam like this with their first offering.

If you are on the fence get off and give this a try. Right now this is my 2012 GOTY! I am not sure if it will hold up with Mass Effect 3 less than a month away.

Edit - I am going through KoAR on Hard.

Last edited by CrusaderForever on 2/9/2012 10:58:10 PM

Agree with this comment 8 up, 2 down Disagree with this comment

Thursday, February 09, 2012 @ 11:01:14 PM

Picking this up along with Fallout: New Vegas GOTY this weekend, so thanks for making me more excited :D!

I recently beat XII-2 (shame it went by fast, although I will definitely come back to it and get different paradox endings) so I have more time for other RPGs ^^

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Thursday, February 09, 2012 @ 11:08:48 PM

Your welcome it was an easy mini review to write. This game is truly special. I can see myself pouring over 100 hours into this game easily. I don't usually do that.

I was so on the fence about whether I should buy KoAR or FFXIII-2. I am glad I chose KoAR but every time I see FXXIII-2 articles I know it will be mine right after Mass Effect 3! Cannot wait to play XIII-2 as I loved XIII.

Last edited by CrusaderForever on 2/9/2012 11:09:16 PM

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Friday, February 10, 2012 @ 6:24:38 AM

I still need to get this game, I have Mass Effect 3 on pre-order, and so many other games I need to get. :/

I absolutely loved the combat though, my friend lives stream KoA a lot and I love that the combat is very deep, I'm definitely going to get this game when I can.

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Friday, February 10, 2012 @ 9:19:02 AM

I'm curious as to whether they fixed the delay between actions and animations. In the demo there was a delay between hitting boxes and the boxes actually breaking. Minor quirk, but still annoying to me. That and issues with textures loading make me very hesitant to buy this game. If the actual game has that fixed, I might end up buying it.

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Monday, February 13, 2012 @ 3:28:02 PM

"Also, the camera needs to be adjustable so you can make it farther away from your character."


I only played the demo, and thought it looked like it could be a great game, the only thing that really annoyed me was that the camera was way too zoomed in, and the first thing I did was go to the options menu to see if there was a way to change the zoom level of the camera, which I didn't find any.

I set the sensitivity level to lowest, and the camera was still moving like crazy in those tight dungeon areas where most of the demo plays out (definitely the WRONG place to put the demo! You'd think they would've noticed?!?) and I was hoping this was fixed in the final game, but it doesn't look like they have...

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Thursday, February 09, 2012 @ 10:55:38 PM

If this game does well, they're supposedly going to pick other dates along that same 10,000 year time frame from their future MMO too, & make more side games spun off of it.

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Thursday, February 09, 2012 @ 10:58:53 PM

To be honest, I never thought once that Reckoning had an identity crisis. It's a new IP that I've been excited about since I first heard about it, and since I don't play MMOs (never got into them), it's been a while since I've played in such a bright, colourful fantasy RPG.

I believe it just takes the best from some of the great games we love and that many people know (God of War and Skyrim to name an obvious few :P) and just innovates on those concepts.

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Thursday, February 09, 2012 @ 11:12:56 PM

The blend of this game is what drew me in. It's what I really enjoyed of the demo. I havnt got the game yet but I certainly plan on it. Thats also what I liked about two worlds is the combat, it saved that game for me, this is even a step above that from what I played and the mixture of it is the best part for me.

I think it's great when there's genre blending going on and a game succeeds. Everything I've read on this game, and playing the demo proves it did just that. Would it have been better of it was one or the other or this or that, I really don't think so. Well see like I said I'm going to pick it up, but I certainly am convinced the developers did a good job.

I feel like there's some personal preference in this review, and maybe there's some things that the "hardcore" or "traditional" rpg fan would have liked to have seen some things done differently. But even playing for the length of the demo proved a great, fun, and addictive game was developed.

Last edited by bigrailer19 on 2/9/2012 11:17:58 PM

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Friday, February 10, 2012 @ 12:49:09 AM

Hmmm... Disappointing. Seems I have to take a long, hard look at the demo. I'm not into fantasy either. I do enjoy character development and micro management though.

Anyway, with ME3 coming up and still an endless ocean of things to do in Skyrim there will be no problem waiting for the bargain bin with this one.

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Friday, February 10, 2012 @ 1:10:18 AM

I was underwhelmed, but it did have this singular kind of charm that made the demo feel like a cross between Fable and Dragon Age 2. While neither are the greatest RPG of all time, they mix kind of nicely into a low budget Dragon Age that has a lot more to it.

I plan to pick this up cheap when my backlog is done.

Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 2/10/2012 1:11:34 AM

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Sunday, February 12, 2012 @ 2:07:49 PM

That's not a bad comparison!
I got the full game now, and so far so good.

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Friday, February 10, 2012 @ 2:29:52 AM

2 main complaints i have with this.
1 it feels like a cheap B grade cheesy movie.
i was expecting a RPG with the production values of skyrim, but a more fantasy story and more in depth combat.
basically a high budget high quality LOR game.
but what i got was a cheap low budget poor story LOR game!
the game just feels poorly put together.
the graphics are crap, the lip syncing is all over the place!
the story is as muddled as a abandoned quarry!
just feels like a bunch of high school students put it together in their free time after school.
not the production of a high budget production studio!
then the asking price of normal AAA games.
sorry, but i dont pay ferrari money for a suzuki!

that brings me on to my 2nd complaint.
it DOES NOT feel like a RPG!
it feels exactly like LOR, a adventure game.
the lack of story only compounds that feeling too, simply because, as ive said many times, a RPG is NOTHING without its story!
same thing FFXIII-2 suffered from.
for a RPG story is everything, poor story, no RPG simple as that!

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Friday, February 10, 2012 @ 11:42:01 AM

It doesn;t feel like an RPG, it feels like an action adventure. I still think it plays and feels a lot like an R&C clone with wRPG styling. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but I understand your complaint about the story.

Last edited by TheHighlander on 2/10/2012 11:43:16 AM

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Friday, February 10, 2012 @ 6:15:33 AM

this game reminds me of darksiders. a collection of ideas from different game. i absolutely loved darksiders and i am loving koa:reckoning.

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Friday, February 10, 2012 @ 7:09:15 AM

I haven't and love it but Ben is right it's all about the combat, which flows, is vicious and responsive. The customization around is impressive as well.

Unfortunately I can't seem to care for other characters even the slightest - sure I'm not very far into this huge game, however most of the time I'm not looking for people to talk to but to find bandits to backstab in the forest.

The other issue is I'm not sure what actions give exp ( quests and killing enemies is evident) but lock picking, alchemy and blacksmithing doesn't seem to reward you all that heartily. Maybe I'm just oblivious to it.

Well good on 38 Studios - this is their first on the ps3 right? Or at least the first I've heard of them - this open world genre takes a while to gain the proper experience in.

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Friday, February 10, 2012 @ 7:19:51 AM

It's their first game ever (as a studio--team members have built many games).

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Sunday, February 12, 2012 @ 10:42:35 AM

... And the fact that it's their first game only adds to the charm of this game, imo!

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Friday, February 10, 2012 @ 7:36:41 AM

Koa is very a well done game, yes it reminds myself of other games...or is it just the opposite? oh well im enjoying Koa and Ben take sometime and enjoy the game.........

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Friday, February 10, 2012 @ 11:40:30 AM

Hmmm.. Well, it sounds like the demo gave exactly the right impressions.

I played the demo all the way through, actually hoping to like it. There are pluses and minuses, and in the end, It just didn't grab me by the throat and order me to buy it immediately. But then, that's because I'm still working on another game that I think looks and plays better.

Graphically, I thought that the game world was excellent, on par with the kinds of graphical excellence we see in action games like the R&C games. It wasn't platforming, but then a lot of Ratchet's time is spent running or riding around an environment killing everything that moves with a variety of great weapons. It was this impression that remained with me through the whole game. great landscapes and environment, tight combat, weapons that can level, skills, and character growth, new armor. But it really was about roaming around and spamming various attacks.

The NPCs ranged from plasticine looking ugly to annoyingly rendered cliche and occasionally to something that approached the kind of graphical standard the environments set. The voices did this too, I really wasn't impressed by the voice work, and the dialog was annoyingly slow. I turned the volume up a bit and was surprised to hear every piece of NPC dialog delivered with the same, slow deliberate pace. Almost as if someone was patiently reading with feeling from a card.

Finally your character. Since I am well used to the kind of character customization you have with White Knight Chronicles and am frequently told how that game offers inferior options for customization, I was expecting a massive leap up from WKC2. What I got was a substantial downgrade. The quality of the character's rendering was disappointing except in a few cutscenes, and the amount of choice was really quite poor. In WKC2, I can completely redesign the face and physique of my avatar. choose from more than a dozen voices and so forth. In WKC2, the hair on the avatar flows, and the outfits are similarly flexible as you move. Amalur by comparison looked like the character was wearing molded foam pieces, including the hair piece. I was singularly unimpressed by this element.

I had hoped that by the release of the game, we'd find that the demo was an early version and the gold version had much more polished graphics. But based on the review, I'm not so sure.

Now, overall, the game was pretty good. I did enjoy the combat and collection aspects of it. But overall the game reminded me of Ratchet and Clank with the exploration, combat and collection mechanics. Character and weapon advancement are clearly deeper than a title like that, but the gameplay is on par with it which makes it pretty good. That said, R&C is extremely fluid in play, more so than KoA.

In the end I felt that the game was kind of like someone took the gameplay from R&C and dropped it in a blender with the rich and colorful worlds of R&C the character and art style of a wRPG, along with the character development and skills depth of a decent RPG and put it in high speed blend. The result was then given some nice music and a decidedly average voicing.

Ben's review I think hits that right on the mark graphically it's just weighed down by the character rendering. The sound loses out to the voicing. The combat is fun, but not quite as fluid as something as simple as R&C. But the game does have a lot to praise. The combat is still very good, it's a lot of fun to run around and collect and beat up bad guys and collect more stuff, and upgrade stuff and upgrade your character, build their skills and so forth. All of that is fun. So the game overall is very good, but it really isn't excellent in any one department.

That all said, it's a game I'll probably buy, but not right away. It isn't competing at all with my current game addiction.

As for the Good the Bad and the Ugly... Ben, the ugly has to be all those terribly designed NPCs in the opening hour. My god they are ugly creatures.

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Monday, February 13, 2012 @ 5:14:50 AM

Good review. :)

Last edited by Beamboom on 2/13/2012 5:14:57 AM

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Friday, February 10, 2012 @ 1:16:21 PM

I will probably pick this up later when it's cheaper because I did like the demo but I also want to finish my backlog first which isn't easy when i can't stop playing WKC2

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Saturday, February 11, 2012 @ 7:27:57 PM

I am enjoying it. The only thing I could possibly complain about is no jumping function for the combat. I think if I were to make the a top 10 action rpg list this would make it in it, but Kingdom Hearts of course would be number 1.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012 @ 3:29:36 AM

To hell with what the pompous, nose-in-the-air "purists" have to say. Their lot can never be satisfied and are only happy when complaining. What ever happened to playing a game just to have fun? Reckoning is VERY fun and if you wanna have fun that's all that matters.

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Friday, February 24, 2012 @ 1:23:24 AM

"So the game overall is very good, but it really isn't excellent in any one department."

I think everything is good to great ( just like the graphics good most of the time and great in some places ) so it is excellent in one department and that is in the game as a whole .

As for the review i think it is pretty good one apart for the score in certain department . To be more precise , graphics and control .

To me 7.3 for the graphics is just ridiculous ( the attention to details too high to get such a low score, my opinion of course )and controls are definitely worth more ( guess the camera bothered you Ben more then you let it seem in the review ) .

Anyway , one thing for sure , any rpg/wrpg fan should get it at some point . There are hate it or love it game out there but that one i feel is more like , at the right price you ll love it .

Last edited by berserk on 2/24/2012 1:27:04 AM

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Friday, March 09, 2012 @ 7:50:14 PM

I'm about 11 hours into the game now and I'm loving it. Sure there are some issues like the old style UI and the NPC conversation animations are weak, but the size and gameplay with great controls brings me satisfaction to no end. I heard nothing about KoA until I read some reviews, tried the demo and bought it right away. I haven't been so vacuumed into a game since borderlands. Give it a try with an open mind, forget about comparing it to majors like Skyrim. You'll have fun. Its a great start for a new IP.

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