Some notable comments include this summary from Canada’s from Forbes will become relevant in a minute:
What I can say without a doubt is that Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is one hell of a fun game, and you should go buy it and play it right away.
And don’t be fooled by the intro — of the entire game, the opening is the weakest. It’s an odd sort of shortcoming. While the tutorial is effective, it was also not very compelling. I like a game that throws me right into the fray with a dramatic opening, and while I think that Reckoning does attempt to do that, it falls short of the mark.
And this part of God is a Geek’s assessment largely echoes my own:
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a game blatantly made for fans of the RPG genre and is unforgiving if you aren’t completely familiar with what the genre has to offer. It brings all aspects of it full force, unrelenting in its forwardness. Looking over the sections where the game falls short, none of them are actually things wrong with the game. The battle system and storyline idea regarding fate are just so well thought out and planned that the rest of the game looks puny in comparison, even though they?re solid RPG elements.
Seriously, as a guy who has studied philosophy and theology at some length, the whole “deterministic, free-willed hero in a fully deterministic, inexorably fated world” story concept just messes with my head in all the right ways. And even though I’ve only just finished off the first portion of the main plot, Big Huge Games’ writers have already thrown a couple of interesting implications of that framework my way in the dialogue.
RPGWatch reports on — and echoes — a question posed at VG247, one which echoes the comments from Forbes (above). It’s worth remarking on here as well, because a few people who have commented here after trying the demo expressed similar thoughts: the demo is underwhelming and gives a far-too-linear and limited view of the game.
For my own…well, I far preferred Reckoning’s demo, limited as it might have been, to the demo for Mass Effect 3. And the sense I got from the demo is that it was, indeed, limited…but had been artificially limited as well. Magical barriers blocked the entrances to some parts of the world in the demo, barriers that simply are not there in the release game. That’s not to say that your freshly-resurrected character is necessarily going to be able to weather exploring those areas prematurely, but it is to say that the linearity of the demo is somewhat articficial when compared against the actual game.
Quite well, in fact:
In conclusion, it’s safe to say that you can buy Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning on any of the three major HD gaming platforms and you’re going to be in for a real treat. The experience on console is essentially interchangeable where it truly matters, but if we had to make a choice, it would have to be the Xbox 360 release. While the more minor visuals upgrades such as texture filtering and improved shadows are nice, it’s the motion blur and reduced aliasing that makes it the marginally better buy.
This as opposed to PS3, mind you. If you want the game “full glory”, go with the PC version:
But clearly it’s the PC version that’s the one to get, even if you have a relatively modest gamers’ rig — it looks better, it plays better, it just feels right. A mid-range graphics card and quad-core CPU is all you need to effortlessly power past the console versions, and even if you play the game at 720p — a low level setting by PC standards — the improvement is still immediately apparent in comparison to the Xbox 360 or PS3 experience. Scale up beyond that and it’s as though the rich detail of the game is fully unlocked, and you’re enjoying Kingdoms of Amalur at the height of its potential.
I play it on PC, and I quite love it. And contra some reviews, I’m quite content with how the game controls using keyboard and mouse.
If you can answer that question, you can write for Digitally Downloaded.
Reckoning does it, more or less:
…[Reckoning] offers up relatively few moral decisions that are expressly presented in expensive cutscenes and plot lines, and instead offers them up in proportion to the size of the scenario, whether that’s a small in-game bonus or a world-altering moment. You might not be making a moral decision in every single situation, or an important one at that, but when you do, chances are you’ll think about it more than in many other games. In order to do this, I’m going to use one of the shortest and most insignificant parts of the game to demonstrate this.
An early quest sees the player hunting antelopes and retrieving their heads in order to recreate a folk tale – placing the heads in the right place summons a troll to kill, who guards a magic ring, which is then presented to a damsel. The player is able to follow the quest forward without any dialogue options or cosmetic choices. The decision made available at the end is a simple one, but has more depth than your typical good/evil or saint/jerk response: do you give the ring back to the person who asked you to retrieve it, or do you keep it for yourself?
Right off the bat, we have context. The player has been given a quest that not only has a definite end goal behind it and a set of steps to complete, but there’s also a larger world that it fits into. In the Amalur universe, Fate dictates that the events of stories play out time and time again over the ages – the recreation of this story is something that is logical within the game world, and has been established at the point the player receives the quest.
The way the quest is set up here is a bit more subtle. As a Fateless One, the player’s character is not bound by Fate in the same way that everyone else in the universe is – unlike others, he or she has the power to change destiny and, perhaps more importantly, change the story being retold. The player’s status as Fateless is important, because it gives the choice weight and meaning, The foreshadowing in this case is fairly simple, and admittedly a bit weak, but it does what it needs to, specifically: the player gets the ring as a reward rather than keeping it. Similarly, the consequence is the magic ring the player gets – probably one of the first and best rings the player will have access to (I used it for several hours afterwards).
Reckoning has also been criticized for not offering more profoundly visible impacts of moral decisions, or for having those decisions trickle down through the rest of the game. The early option to either spare the citizens of a town called Canneroc or slaughter them as a means of staving off a boss fight has been used as an example. I passed that point in the game a while ago, and was faced with the decision; I chose to fight the boss character and spare the town. Had I not done so, the town — in which the player can obtain a house, mind you — would have been deserted on my every subsequent visit thereto, and I would have lost access to (at the very least) the healer and merchants therein.
And, of course, the town would have been visibly empty. Presumably, I would have retained access to my house…though if I had not finished upgrading it, I wouldn’t have been able to continue doing so, since I would have also slaughtered the man I would pay to perform those upgrades.
Losing access to merchants and house upgrades seems a small consequence compared to the sorts of moral choices and consequences that BioWare loves to throw at those of us who play their games…but I have to wonder: does the impact of wiping Canneroc off the map have to be any more significant than it is in Reckoning? Does wiping out a small village in a forest need to have world-shattering implications? Or is the fate of the town more or less meaningless in this massive, fully deterministic world at war…and should the massacre at Canneroc leave nothing more than a ghost town in its wake, visited only occasionally by a young soldier who perhaps feels personally guilty, but not so much that he won’t occasionally go back to repair his gear and swap out a weapon for one he’s storing in that house by the bridge?
The latest in trailery goodness for Reckoning:
I’d embed the video, but it appears to be region-locked.