Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning — Halfway Through a Hidden Gem

I actually started playing Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning on PS3 because of Diablo III. Even more so, I started playing it because I had finished Diablo III and desperately wanted to play a long, somewhat complex fantasy RPG. The hack and slash of Diablo III is enjoyable but repetitive. KoA:R has quickly become one of my favorite pastimes, and it’s a wonderful game despite its set of notable downfalls. I become bored and fail to suspend disbelief very easily, and few games truly capture my interest and keep it. I’m notorious for not finishing games, for getting bored with them in the middle of the story and discarding them. I realize this seems like blasphemy to most people who would force themselves to finish a novel or game they didn’t really enjoy just for the sake of finishing it. Well, not I–have fun with sort of torturing yourself, sillies. ❤

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning’s claims to fame include having a cast of supposedly well-known authors working on its fantasy world. Unfortunately, someone who is actually a writer will likely find parts of it pretentious and overblown. Meanwhile, grammatical errors in certain key places where they tried (and failed) to use more complex sentence structures make it difficult to take it seriously. Parts of it are interesting and well-crafted, but the parts that aren’t are blaring.

Graphics

First and foremost, I’ll start with the graphics. They blow. Let’s just get how awful they are out of the way. I honestly didn’t notice how bad they are at first because of how awesome the combat is, but wow, they are terrible. The characters themselves look decent, and their powers and weapons also look decent. The environment however is a polygonal nightmare of 2D bushes of grass and plants growing from concrete. Certain forest environments are decent because of their reliance on large structures to create an atmosphere of color and texture. Places where fine detail is used like prison cells and concrete flooring fall hilariously short of the mark. At one point, I panned endlessly around these tufts of grass sticking out of a concrete block: all were bewilderingly uniform and 2D, and they stuck out of the ground like cardboard cutouts. Anyways, the graphics are bad.

Length

On the upside, what the game lacks in graphics it makes up for in length and complexity. I’m halfway through the main quest line and complete side quests (but not all “Tasks”, which are like super side quests), and I’m already at 75 hours. Various forums around the web estimate that one could spend more than 200 hours playing if one wanted to complete the main quest line and the vast majority of side quests (including “Tasks”), and so far I’ve found that estimate to be relatively accurate. The game is long, and that I find very enjoyable. One gripe I have with FPS and live-action genre videogames is that once you really get into them, they end. Genji: Dawn of the Samurai, though on PS2, is a great example of way too fucking short, like absurdly short. I played through it twice back-to-back and still felt after the second play-through that the whole affair was preposterously brief. Amalur isn’t like that, and I love it for that. I’m totally okay with cardboard dungeons in exchange for a game that is as long as it is enjoyable.

Borrowed Elements

Some elements are reminiscent of Bethesda’s Fallout (and also their Skyrim): Lockpick skills, Stealth (Sneak in Fallout) skill, Persuasion (Charisma in Fallout) skill, recipes and certain elements of crafting and world interaction. It seems to combine elements from many styles of gameplay to make one intense experience: skills, mana and upgradable abilities are paired with powerful apparel while an array of weapons and combat abilities keeps everything oddly fresh. On top of that, your standard array of fantasy effects and modifiers such as shrines, talismans, potions, gems, curses and wotnot all exist and add another facet of complexity to the gameplay and also serve to make the game that much more immersive.

Glitches

Over the course of my adventures in Amalur, I’ve discovered two glitches: one is a quest-related glitch, and one extremely minor one involves the camera view. For the camera glitch, the camera merely orients itself too far down on the y-axis: you end up looking at the ground from inside of the ground. Fortunately, it corrects itself quickly and happens rarely.

The second glitch as a bit more frustrating and was actually unknowingly caused by my own inaction. At Tirin’s Rest, you have a quest that tells you to watch a collections box overnight to catch a thief that has been stealing from it. If you camp out overnight and don’t confront the thief in the act, the dialogue options required to complete the quest will not display, and he is programmed to steal from the box only once. Essentially, you will have missed your one chance. Research online shows that this glitch occurs on PS3 and 360 though rare. It was first noted about a year ago, and because of how horribly the game did, its developers abandoned it and any possible sequels, so it’s unlikely that any patches will ever come. I opted to kill the thief and fail the quest that way so I didn’t have to look at it anymore.

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