Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

There's A Mage Up Ahead, Turn Left!

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a massive game, so prepare to call in sick.
Author: Kirsten Weaver
Published: February 15, 2012
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Another large issue with enemies has to do with groups and controls. The controls are unwieldy when it comes to enemies and the camera has a mind of its own. The camera literally goes where it’s preset to go with no lock on button for enemies. There were a couple times when I was forcing the camera to see enemies and got lost in the geometry. More times than not I was forced into praying that my general range of attack would hit the enemy I wanted to kill. The other issue I had with the controls was dodging. When I press dodge I would love to have my character dodge an attack not just pause like they’re thinking about it (“You want me to do that right now? Oh fine.”). After a nice large pause my character would dodge right into the enemy’s open arms, and by that I mean "really large attack that takes out half of my health bar." It was not a pleasant experience.


Moreover, these pauses are not delegated solely to dodging but any action at all, including taking hits from enemies. There was a significant pause for recovery with my character every time he was hit and I was rendered unable to do anything. This is not an exception when it comes to group of enemies and it makes the game terribly frustrating. A group of lower leveled mages with some foot soldiers can easily kill off your character if you are not careful. By the end of the game, I had to run in at enemies and run away to single out one enemy at a time. This became an extremely useful strategy when fighting melee enemies that take out a large chunk of health in one swing with mages backing them up.

There is nothing memorable about the music and it’s better that way. Watching enough movies, TV and games, everyone knows when there is a big battle coming up with the dramatic music slowly becoming more pronounced in the background. Reckoning was nice enough to spare the dramatic music and kept it minimalistic -- of course the big bosses have their own music but it’s nothing overpowering. To make up for the lack of background music the sounds in the game were very accurate. Striking an enemy with a sword equipped with lightning causes crackles, for instance. The only problem with the sounds is that mages, when casting a ton of spells, can get very loud and more than once the game needed to be paused to turn down the volume.

After about 30 hours into the game and finishing up the story with some side quests thrown on top, there are still plenty more quests to go back and do. One note I made during one side quest was that there was an issue with talking to a caged NPC that needed to be freed. When my character was done asking questions and I came back out of the chat poor Hulk was stuck in the cage with the NPC. Somehow the game had warped him into the cage and there was no way to get out. I must admit it was too tempting to just yell out “cage fight, round one.” Needless to say I had to reload my save and redo a battle with two large melee characters, two mages and two very quick enemies. This is one of the times where it was very tempting to chuck the controller across the room and take a walk. Thankfully, the next time I tried to start the quest, it went off without a hitch.

Overall, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a very well thought out game but there needs to be some minor adjustments to the controls and enemies to make it more enjoyable. Though the flaws can be downright frustrating at times, don’t be surprised when you look down at the clock thinking you’re only an hour into the game and see that it has been three or four instead. Considering that this is 38 Studios' maiden voyage out into the world of large RPG’s they did phenomenally well in hooking even battle hardened RPG enthusiasts. We’re looking forward to the next installment but in the mean time we have no qualms with journeying back into Faelands and the Plains of Erathell to tie up some loose ends.
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The Verdict
8.5

Reckoning does a lot of things right. 38 Studios should be proud of their first title. Hopefully with some revisions, especially with the camera and difficulty balancing, we'll see an even better title next time.

9.0Graphics:

Wonderful depth and lovely environments make for a very pleasant looking game. Battles have a tendency to break the graphics.

8.5Sound:

Swords and spells have amazing audio effects and background music is appropriate but be prepared to turn down the volume when encountering mages.

8.0Control:

The controls can work against you at times, especially the camera. Sometimes inputs don't seem to go through and other times they can lag. However, after getting use to them and making use of the dodge and roll buttons, you'll get the hang of it.

9.0Gameplay:

It's a testament to how good this game really is that the gameplay manages to outshine all of the frustrating aspects. No matter how frustrating things got, I always wanted to continue forward.