Review by neonreaper
"Devoid of personality, Reckoning needs to show more and tell less"
Quick to the point, if you just want a large world full of nooks and crannies and caves, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning has plenty of that. If you want decent third person fantasy action with swords, bows, and magic, Reckoning has that too. It's very playable, though very derivative and does nothing to stand out from other games in the genre.
There are two big problems with this game. One, you've played it before. Dragon Age, Fable, Skyrim, etc. Pretty much everything in Reckoning is basically swiped from other games, though not really as enjoyable. Dialog wheels, lock picking, right trigger+button spells, etc. Many mechanics in the action-adventure RPG genre are standard for a reason, but there is still plenty of room for a game to tread its own path, and you don't really get that here. This would be easy to overlook if the game had a great story and characters, or a great presentation. It doesn't... which leads to...
The other big problem: Reckoning has very poor presentation and storytelling. The game seeks to get buy with dialog text, choosing to explain events through boring characters instead of really connecting the player to them. One of the first things we uncover about our character is that he/she is not bound by the fates that guide all others, which leads to great freedom and potentially terrible power. Instead of expressing this through the game, we are told by an NPC. Sure, we can unleash this fateless power upon enemies, but it just functions as a sort of 'limit break' that results in bonus exp. Reduced to a small-time quick time event, this should be the element of the game that sets it apart from the pack. The NPC asks us to use this power carefully, but the game itself asks us to use it when we want bonus exp or during tough battles. This potentially terrible power should have consequences that we see early on, we should feel the weight of what we are doing, but we don't really go down that road.
The player-created main character is not compelling in any way. While other games in the genre don't give the character much personality, they do connect the player to the world through the character. An example... early in the game, you encounter an NPC who helps guide you. He's supposedly a drunk. We aren't shown that he's a drunk and he barely acts like it. It just comes up as a dialog option "Are you drunk?" and he has a dull reaction to it. He makes a few casual comments later about drinking. What could be amusing, or at least define the character, is just presented as a dialog wheel option.
Dialog wheel options are the usual good guy/bad guy ones, accompanied by any bribes or other options unlocked by invested skill points. Yup, you've played this before and the writing here isn't anything special. NPCs aren't big on personality, but you can ask them about every little topic like they are tailored little Wikipedia pages. Again yup, been there done that. This is fine for a game like World of Warcraft, but single player action RPGs should feature characters that are more interesting that simple quest givers.
If you want to roam around a nice looking world (it really is a cool world to wander around in), enjoy some competent though easy combat, and level up a character... Reckoning is fine for that. It's not really as good at it as other games in the genre, but it's decent enough for a couple dozen hours of play if you like these types of games. You will constantly be reminded of other, better games through all the copycat gameplay features. And unfortunately, Reckoning doesn't bring anything new to the party, instead relying heavily on text from dull characters. Don't be afraid to show us some personality, instead of telling us it's there!
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 03/21/12
Game Release: Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (US, 02/07/12)
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