If there was ever such thing as a dream team for developing a RPG game, the people behind the upcoming action rpg from 38 Studios and Big Huge Game would fit the bill perfectly.
Taking on the role of Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning’s game executive designer is Ken Rolston who was the lead designer of the highly successful The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Fantasy author R.A. Salvatore, known for his The DemonWars Saga series and also for creating the popular Drizzt for his Forgotten Realms novels takes on the responsibility of creating the game universe and lore. Comic book superstar Todd McFarlane, who worked on Marvel Comics’ Spider-Man franchise and is best known for his Spawn series, rounds up the dream team by lending his hand with the game’s artwork.
Add in 38 Studios founder Curt Schilling saying that Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning would have a game style that is best described as the marriage of God of War and Oblivion, it is no wonder that expectations and anticipations have been very high since then. But enough rumbling on the background info and lets dive straight into the demo proper.
The demo was released on XBox 360, Playstation 3 and the Windows platform for which the game will be released on later as well. This article will be based on the Windows platform version via the STEAM distribution service.
The demo starts off with the character creation process which RPG veterans and newcomers should have no problems completing thanks to its intuitive interface. Having an explanation for each choice definitely helps and the whole process takes no longer than a few minutes unless you are the type that enjoys looking at every single combination for your character’s appearance.
Moving on to the starting area, the standard tutorial built into the game’s beginning takes over. While this can be a chore sometimes and where players just keep on clicking next, I would advise against doing so as there is quite a few extra things to note, even for the veteran gamers.
Graphics wise, both the starting area and the rest of the game world has a very interesting palette of colours that goes along with its own unique set of visuals. While it is not doubt a fantasy world that most gamers will recognise, it does have its own unique set of feel that no doubt comes from Todd McFarlane.
Even on high settings, my now 2 years old outdated PC still had no issues keeping up as I moved from the starting town and into my first side quest which took me into a dungeon to help retrieve an artifact. This of course is to be expected as the minimum requirements of the game does look a bit low in today’s age of processing power. But this also means more people can experience the game which overall is a good thing.
Sound wise, while the game is definitely up to standard comparing to other great games in the recent years, it is by no means the epic level that Skyrim has set. Voice acting is good but lacks that emotion edge and the game music while not boring, doesn’t leave you in stunning awe.
But perhaps the greatest strength of the game is its storyline which no doubt is a masterclass work by R.A. Salvatore. Even the idea of having no character background and starting out with a clean slate is more than enough to stand out from a generation of games where either you are a criminal getting a second chance, a simple person destined for greater things or even an exile coming back to save those who wronged you.
Add this storyline to a game world where you find yourself spending most of the 45 minutes limit wanting to explore the world and meet the interesting inhabitants, this game looks destined to please old school gamers who put more weight on game play than shiny graphics with no substance.
Combat in Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning feels very familiar as with other action titles with the occasional looking out for the flashing button to press. Response time is tight so there shouldn’t be that irritating moment where you missed the killing blow because the game registered the action too late.
Character development takes on an interesting twist to the tried and tested skill tree system found in other RPGs. While there will be a bonus to concentrate on one tree in most games, the introduction of the fate cards does make investing in two trees a viable option.
Overall I enjoyed my 45 minutes wondering the world of Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning as I stick my energy blade looking weapon into enemies while persuading the town folks to see things my way during conversations. 38 Studios and Big Huge Game do have one big expectation to fulfill thanks all the hype generated and if the demo is but the tip of the iceberg to the full game, I am confident that the $59.90 price will be a good investment to many more hours of fun.
by Kenneth Wong
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