21 January 2012

Demo Watch - Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is the much touted "genre re-defining" RPG from the combined, er, talents of R. A. Salvatore, Todd McFarlane and someone who had something to do with Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and whose name I already forgot. Yes, they actually think they can better Bioware at their own game. Oh dear. I remember all too well when was the last time someone tried to re-invent the wheel in terms of epic computer-RPG's. The result was Legends of Valour by the infamous Kevin Bulmer, back in the early 1990's for PC and Amiga. The game was a complete disaster in every thinkable (and unthinkable) way.

I'm not calling Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning a complete disaster. It's just... so completely tiresome, cliched and unremarkable in every thinkable way. There is nothing which hasn't been seen before in the genre and at some levels it even turns the wheel of time counter-clockwise, like how the inventory and menus are clumsy, scrollable lists written in a crude font instead of nicely laid-out templates. As for adventuring, I can't imagine anyone taking on side quests. It's the old routine of "I'll help you if you help me". Main quest seems intriguing even though the idea of fateweavers are a laugh (and the first fateweaver you'll run into is laughably badly written and even worse acted). And may I ask, how many adventures start with a hero/heroine who has lost any trace of memory and whose fate will dictate the world? Somehow, the game feels like anti-TOR (The Old Republic, mind you), which was an offline-RPG forced into a MMORPG. This is like a MMORPG forced into an offline-RPG.

Hello, my name is Rei and I have lost my memory after being resurrected in the well of... souls, was it? Oh, and my fate will dictate also the fate of the world. But then again I met a fateweaver who told me I have no fate, so... what will that make out of the world? Maybe they should have called the game Kingdom of Amalur Has No Fate.

Let me give you an example how the world mechanics work here; at one point the whole village, guards, villagers and even quest givers, started attacking me, rendering any progress impossible. What was the heinous crime I had committed? Had I murdered someone, eaten someone's baby or burned down a house? Or... perhaps stole a candy from a child? Almost. You see, I confiscated a greater healing potion needed for one quest. And this terrible act made me public enemy #1. Yes, in Fallouts you can get on someone's bad side but you need more than a petty theft for that to happen. No wonder I was haunted by the memories of Legends of Valour...

The visuals, no doubt dabbled together on a concept table by Todd McFarlane himself (nah, more like his assistants), fail to convey anything that even resembles a shadow of an epic adventure. Colors splashed everywhere, lacklustre character models, unimaginative settings stolen from any RPG out there... And the music must come from some "epic RPG music" CD library with every note and theme heard so many times before.

Anything good? Oh yes. Rogue, my choice of class for every RPG, is fun to play. But so it was in Dragon Age II. And Kingdoms of Amalur is nothing like DAII even though it so hard tries to be. The demo wasn't a complete waste of time though. By starting it and enduring it all the way through (after finishing the opening quest and entering the world you get 45 minutes to play) I unlocked an armor and a weapon for Mass Effect 3. And some stuff for the final release of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning as well...

Woo, a conversation wheel! So... unique! What? It isn't? Yes, it isn't.


NePaul Wilson said...

I actually had quite the opposite reaction to this game. I really enjoyed the demo and generally felt like the combat is what Fable meant to be. In general it felt like a step-up in gameplay of a Fable game.

Though I understand your feelings towards it and in the demo I encountered a wide number of glitches and bugs.

If nothing else at least you get Mass Effect 3 DLC (which was the reason behind me playing it to begin with, but ultimately rather enjoyed it). I also got to walk around shirtless like Conan, score.

Shunichiro said...

I tried so hard to find some redeeming features for me as I wanted to like the game. But the last night I even saw nightmares of it...

I forgot one important thing about the world mechanics from my demo watch. I just edited the text and included a chapter about them. I think that was the last straw for me when that which I describe happened... Oh dear.

Oh well, stuff for ME3 though. Hope they're worth it!

NePaul Wilson said...

Design was, I'll admit, it isn't the most appealing and with a February I would HOPE they would try to fix some of the bugs. I don't plan on buying it, but it is fun for what it's worth.

And I won't use the armor, but I'll probably give the gun to one of my squadmates. Classic Avenger Assault rifle me all the way from ME1-ME3.