Eight Hours In: Reckoning
So here we are folks. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning has been out for about a week now, and it has already occupied a strange little space in my heart. Personally, I’ve been looking forward to it since before it was even announced; Curt Schilling had announced his Amalur world previously, when it was under the codename Copernicus, and the concept of a full world being developed by someone which such a love for fantasy as Schilling, along with the writing powerhouse of R.A. Salvatore, had me in raptures just thinking about it.
Now, many years later, we have the first game in the series in our hot little hands, and very rarely has such a new studio had the opportunity to wedge itself so firmly and unignorably into the Gamespace. EA has forced it into our view by associating it with other AAA releases like Mass Effect 3, but is the game worth it?
Truthfully, only you can tell for certain, but we here at Padinga can at least offer guidance. Hit the link to jump after the Break and we’ll give you our Pros and Cons for Reckoning, after 8 hours of play.
Pro #1: It’s Skyrim Lite
If you’re familiar with games like Skyrim and Fable, you know Reckoning. You’ve got crafting systems, the ability to choose from many different weapons, and a point system that lets you choose your character’s development path. In terms of western RPGs, it’s the difference between Burnout and Gran Turismo; where Skyrim excels as a fantasy simulation, Reckoning presents a faster, more arcade-feeling experience. It has more in common with Dynasty Warriors, but with a lot fewer enemies and a much broader spectrum of play styles.
Con #1: It’s Skyrim Lite
That being said, if you’ve played these games ad nauseum, you may not find anything worthwhile in Reckoning. They say that imitation is the greatest form of flattery, and Reckoning pays so many compliments to the rest of its betters, you’d think it’s trying to get laid. Most of the game draws from other sources in some fashion, even the story. While it puts everything together very well, if you’re bothered by derivation, Reckoning will drive you nuts like a steering while on your crotch.
Pro #2: An Immersive World
Reckoning starts the story off with a bang, and right away you start feeling your character’s impact upon the world. Without giving any spoilers, the story indicates that your character has a great impact upon the world just in his presence, and 8 hours in, the bodycount very innocently left in your wake draws you in and gives you the impression of truly mattering in this story.
The world itself is vibrant with color and design, a concept that many other games frankly leave out in the cold. Each area you visit feels like it has a history and a culture, which is apparently not just in the conversations, but the design and presentation of the landscape. Buildings, people, and even things like treasure chests have ornate details which belie a story behind it.
Pro #3: Voice Acting Well Done
The voice acting is of a higher quality than one would expect in a studio’s first outing, and actually goes a long way towards bridging the valley of believing that these characters are people. You’ll hear out their pleas, bring them relief for their woes, and even screw them over at times, and they all respond in kind.
Con #2: They’re All Scottish
Almost to a man (or woman). The game strives to convey a very celtic feel, and in doing so, nearly every NPC encountered thus far has a brogue of some kind, whether thick or thinly layered on. It starts to become tiresome, though for me, it later became awesome again, once I got over it.
Pro #4: Ease of Choice
The game presents you with various options in how you want to play the character, whether by brute force, quick stealth, or magical might. You can pick and choose from any and all of these options, and indeed the character I have been leveling is multiclassing between all 3 options. Something that is much needed in a game that provides such options, and is most thankfully provided, is the ability to respec (that is to say, to reset all your skills to 0 and re-assign them as desired). Like most MMOs, if you want to respec, it will cost you, and it’ll cost more each time, but at least you have the option, should you decide that your Might/Sorcery spec sucks.
Con #3: Pre-Order Cock-Up
That being said, this is where the pre-order and launch bonuses cause problems. You will receive a full set of weapons and armor early in the game, but you have a limited amount of inventory space and no place or ability to stash the items you don’t immediately use, in case you want to try them out later. Granted, these items are really only designed to be effective in the first 10-15 hours or so, but it’s frustrating to have your limited inventory space eaten alive by the very idea of keeping your options open.
Con #4: Inventory Mismanagement
Speaking of inventory, be prepared for an inventory system that is on par with the frustration levels borne of Mass Effect 1. There is no effective or fast way to scroll through your inventory, meaning you’ll be forcing the cursor through categories and massive lists of items, trying to find what you’re looking for. You’re given the option of collapsing categories, either individually or en masse, but this presents its own problems. When you pick up a new item, it’s starred in the inventory to let you know that it is new and you have not viewed it yet, but when the categories are collapsed, you have no way of knowing which category contains your new items, so you still have to un-collapse all of the categories just to find it. It’s frustrating, to say the least.
Overall, if you enjoy a good action fantasy RPG regardless of any other factor, Reckoning certainly provides. There are some pain points, but after putting in over 10 hours, I’m extremely pleased with my purchase, even to the point where I can actually set TOR aside… temporarily.