Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: 38 Studios
Genre: Action RPG
ESRB rating: Mature
Release date: Available now
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is the first adventure in the brand new world of Amalur, brought to us by 38 Studios, Big Huge Games and the mind of fantasy legend R.A. Salvatore. An action RPG with the Salvatore pedigree to live up to, KoA:R promises fast-paced, customizable gameplay and an epic story set in a colorful, high-fantasy world.
The world of Amalur is bound by fate and cycles. The Fae embody the immortal cycle of nature, while the mortal races have destinies laid out from birth to death written in the unchangeable Threads of Fate. For years the Faelands have been gripped by a war that the mortal races are fated to lose. A faction of Winter Fae has usurped the Winter Throne and is waging a holy crusade, the “Crystal War,” in the name of a new god to wipe the mortal races from the world. You take the role of an unknown victim of the war, brought back to life by a last ditch experiment to combat the immortal Fae. With no memories and no place in the Threads of Fate, you have the unprecedented ability to actively change the fate of the world around you. The Fateless One (that’s you) carries the hope of all mortals to prevent the inevitable.
Gameplay in KoA:R is that of a class-based action RPG with a little more flexibility than most. The idea of the Fateless One is brought into the combat system in the form of “destinies.” These are your character classes, unlocked based on how many skill points you’ve poured into each of the three combat disciplines: Might, Finesse and Sorcery. A small sum of money allows you to “unbind your destiny” and reset all your skill points, changing your play style at any time. Though character building is superficially simple, the combat is surprisingly fast paced and responsive.
With the hype surrounding it, KoA:R has taken heavy scrutiny since its debut. It’s more than lived up to its promises. The world is colorful and vivid; a pleasant contrast to the otherwise heavy plot. At first glance, the world around you offers little setting or context. Curiosity is rewarded, however, and a rich narrative lies waiting for those who take the time to talk to NPCs. Characters have unique insights and perspectives on the world around them, and scattered bits of history wait for you to find them and piece the whole story together yourself. These facts offer a much more immersive and engaging world than a narrator summarizing it all in a long-winded cinematic.
I want to give Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning five stars, but I can’t. There’s one glaring, overreaching flaw that cripples this otherwise amazing game and keeps it from being one of the best action RPGs I’ve ever played. Electronic Arts requires that you be connected to their servers to play it. No Internet? No game. I love KoA:R, but my PS3 does a number on my house bandwidth when I play a game with an active online feature. When something like this prevents me from playing the single-player game I purchased without being connected, it’s hard to justify paying for or playing it.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is an incredible game. It offers a vivid world with a rich history, providing a great backdrop for an intuitive, customizable combat system. It’s terrible to see it brought down by something as stupid as cheap, invasive DRM. It was a tough decision to say that I still recommend buying this game.