on 23 February 2012
This review is to help prospective buyers of a game that has received much hype. KOA: Reckoning has been off my radar until the last 3 months or so. Then the "names" (Curt Schilling etc) associated with this product started appearing frequently but more importantly screenshots and previews were positive.
Having played the first 20 hours of KOA:R I can say that this is a real gem of a game that only just misses out on gaming greatness, it is not outstanding at everything it does (though the combat is pretty awesome, and character development is immense though a little on the simpler side) but it near excels at almost everything it attempts to do, but not quite.
KOA:R is said to have started life as a MMORPG and if you have played WoW you will see the influence of that title all over this but the game has more than enough flair and artistic design to make it so that you don't feel like you its a poor knock-off. You will also see this influence in the character design, though KOA:R's is less "cartoony" looking than WoWs. Graphics wise it isn't going to knock your socks off, but this is one of those games where the artistic design punches above its weight, in much the same way that Skyrims graphics and textures may not be state of the art but their clever artistic design and use make the "whole greater than the sum of its parts" very applicable to KOA:R.
Speaking of Skyrim, KOA:R has obviously gone to the same school with regards huge world to explore, loads of quests; main and otherwise, character options, skills, abilities, crafting... all here, Huge RPG boxes dutifully ticked, with a KOA:R twist obviously. There is quite simply a ton of stuff to do and explore; I have 4 more lands still to get around to exploring.
Storywise I think KOA:R has had an unfair time of it, I've read in some parts that it is considered generic (what isn't considered generic these days!), this I feel is a bit harsh as I am both enjoying the story and its developments (so far) and I like the way they have "inverted" the "generic" fantasy story. The lore of the land is interesting and detailed though it is not in the same league of detail as Skyrim. All in all I like being in the KOA lands and lore and it plays its part in keeping me coming back to the game.
Character development is a flexible smorsmaborg of fun and experimentation, allowing you to redo your complete character at will (for a cost); don't like that Battlemage you created redo it for an Arcanist etc etc You can choose your destiny and effectively alter your supporting stats to augment your exact play style, pretty cool. The problem I have with it, is I feel that the development that is available to you is great but I feel like you want more (largely because what is there is quite good); more combat moves, more spell choices etc. This is a another great area of KOA:R.
Combat is for me a defining and outstanding feature of this Action RPG, this is simply one of the best feeling and rewarding combat systems I have used in a while, the fluidity and sense of mobility reminds me of Ninja Gaiden and Bayonetta. It is not in their league in terms of breadth and scope of moves to deal with enemies but it is more approachable than those games and can present (require; on hard level) a deeper layer to the player who is willing to invest the time; for me I am a mid distance Mage/Rogue and my style of battle is teleporting next to opponent, striking and then teleporting back out before they have a chance to strike and when I pull that off on the hard level with multiple enemeies without getting hit, yeah, I get chills.
Its good to see an RPG with a large roster of both big and small monsters who attack in different ways and demonstrate a simple level of tactical awareness and mobility. The fact I am playing 20 hours and not bored with combat or just button mashing is a testament in itself. However it isn't perfect, the interaction between trying to block and certain long combos doesn't feel right and more variety of moves would be awesome, also the enemies doesn't feel challenging enough, the camara has its moments of craziness, I almost feel an "Extreme" level is required but that would require more combat moves to help cope with it... KOA:R 2 perhaps.
Sound and music is awesome the music can be both rousing and delicate, and hasn't grated on me, which is a bonus. Voice acting on the whole is good, not exemplary, just good, and there are some ropey ones however they really murder the Scots accent in this game ...lol... please Big Huge Games employ Scots next time. Ambient sound is excellent if sometimes too loud in places, but nothing immersion breaking.
Equipment/Loot is a little bit disappointing for me, but not because of a lack variety; there is plenty of equipment and a real chance to find some cool equipment. Its the look of the equipment that disappoints, a lot of items, even if they have siginificantly different stats, look exactly the same, armor, weapons many look exactly alike, there are a few different looking variants but not enough to make your characters look unique and your own, I wouldn't have minded so much if the different loot had different color highlighting to emphasise some form of difference however it all ends up looking a bland shade of non-descript colour.
The game for the first 5-7 hrs may not grip you instantly as you try to earn enough points to define your character and understand the choices you have but once you understand and realise the potential the game has, it can quickly suck you in as you experiment within its combat and character development sandboxes. I can say wholeheartedly if you want a "Action Skyrim Lite" then you need look no further, this is a promising game with plenty to draw you in and keep one occupied but like games of this type you only get out what you are prepared to put in. If you button mash, it will bore, but if you tap the deeper level of combats, you can come away feeling like your character really is an awesome tool of destruction; artfully dispatching foes.
KOA:R is not a game that can be broken down (like I have just done here) and analysed in isolation, though all of the parts may not be exceptional the sum of its solid parts is greater than you would first be inclined to belive. The fact that it is my game of choice (currently) with an unfinished game of Skyrim and an unopened Batman: Arkham City waiting for my time goes some way to explaining just how much fun I am having with KOA:R. I look forward to a KOA:R 2.
UPDATE: I am now 65 hours in and the end is still nowhere in sight. I thought an update would be of value to people interested in my review. Combat is still fun but depending on your play style you may find the game a little easy even on hard. If you are a completionist do every quest in an area before leaving, enjoy the combat too much and ace the blacksmithing skill you will find that eventually you will out level the creatures of the area you are in and from then on the game will struggle to present you a consistent challenge. This is a shame but is something that afflicts these games to some degree; they need some form of dynamic difficulty scaling.
Because the combat becomes a bit on the easy side, you will seldom use the cool looking and deadly Reckoning mode, which is a shame because it is a hoot, has a cool 'gamble' aspect and slo-mo effect.
The new environments of the new lands are as detailed as the starting areas and the world is very vibrant.
My initial complaint about the similarity of how the loot looks has eased somewhat, with some beautiful sets and unique items to acquire but since anything you can blacksmith will usually trump what can be found or bought (provided you have salvaged enough gear), you'll seldom choose to wear it. But the stuff you create seems to come in standard looking templates and there doesn't so far seem to be much variety. However loot fiends will jump for joy on what can be found and will jump even higher for what can be created. In that respect the blacksmithing skill seems too powerful. Though I do love the trend in these games to name your created gear, creates a nice bond. Now just give me some colour highlighting to make that weapon/armour unique looking.
I'm now playing a Rogue/Mage instead of Mage/Rogue (the nice thing in KOA:R is that distinction matters and is yours to use as you choose) and it is still a barrel of laughs with a poisoned teleport for a dodge; I can use it as a weapon; teleport through an enemy and they have a chance to be poisoned... awesome. KOA:R has made mage like characters deadly weapon using freaks with some cool weapons; Chakrams... they rule. Its nice to see the magic using class re-interpreted.
The game suffers from some of the usual problems that afflict the genre, one in particular is in the imbalance of skills and their uses, with powerful and weak ones. Lockpicking and dispel skills should have been combined and there should be far more "Very Hard" locks with totally awesome and unique rewards; far too many hard chests had nothing of worth in them, which makes it difficult in a subsequent replay to want to choose them. Mercantile and Persuasion should have been combined too because all in all I didn't find any desire to use them separately, the game just doesn't provide compelling reasons to have them.
Stealth feels like a bit of an afterthought; it works but its hard to pull off stealth kills all the time, even as a rogue, as the monster layout design is somewhat haphazard, ie monsters staring at each other, few obvious patrol routes etc however this ups the difficulty and pulling off sneaking through a Jottun (giant) stronghold and slaying the target stealthily is very rewarding.
All in all I am still enjoying my time with KOA:R it may not be perfect but its a very good first attempt that begs for a sequel to push it to greatness. In conclusion its just a really eager to please game that just wants you to have good old fashioned fun. And on that last count it does succeed.
Disclaimer: IMHO. lol.
on 9 April 2012
First things first, I was very,very impressed with this game.
The gameplay is great. It feels very smooth and there are many different moves and techniques you can learn by leveling up which all bring something new to your character. The run is also very smooth and the actions flow very nicely.
The graphics are good, I have seen better (Skyrim) and I have seen worse ( they're better than Fable 3's graphics)The graphics look good on all NPC's with very nice colours and blood effects. The large cities and quaint villages also look very nice and they each have their distinctive qualities which define one city from another.
There are hundreds of quests, when i completed the game, i had finished 193 minor quests and main story quests, there aren't 2 quests alike and they all have different endings and loot in which you get for completing them. There are also 'House quests' in which you are giving quests from different factions. Just like the Thieves guild and the mages guild.They are a very nice adition.
There are also nice little additions in the sagecrafting and blacksmithing. You can create any gem you like, if you want it to have frost damage you can do that, if you want it to add 80 health to your armor, you can do that, its very nice. You can also create any piece of armor or weapon you like.You can make them more powerful by adding bonuses like theses +80 health gems. You can make mage armor, scout armor and your heavy armors. You can also create longswords, greatswords, bows etc. This is a fantastic addition and i spent hours making weapons and armor to my liking.
The world of Amalur is massive.My final play time was 50+ hours and i finished Skyrim also around 55 ish hours, so it is a very long game. There are 4 main lands with different aspects and cities - each land has 1 capital city -. There are hundreds of caves and ruins to also explore to find extra loot and coin to aid you in your journey.
The voice acting is also decent and I have no quarrels with that.
Nothing I can really think of drags this game down.
There are too many enemies sometimes, you can't run from A to B without encountering 5 or more enemies and i got bored of this, as I would have liked a nice relaxing walk enjoying the scenery without being attacked again and again all the time.
There are a couple of bugs here and there, examples are, being unable to finish a quest and the person you need to talk to doesn't have the option of completing it, it did this for me on the mission where i could get a house for free, so i was a bit annoyed when this happened.
Overall, this is fantastic new RPG that will provide you with 50 + hours of hundreds of quests, caves and ruins to explore.The quest line is gripping and will keep you pondering what the next quest will have in store for you.
Length Of game- 10/10
Size of playable world- 10/10
on 30 May 2012
first i'd like to say that i did play the demo of this game when it came out on xbox and wasn't very impressed with it...but after hearing loads of good things about it from friends and reviews, i looked it up on amazon and found it for under £20 and thought i'd give it a go...the game arrived 2 days later and i swiftly put it into my xbox to give it a quick bash to see what the fuss about the full game was about......5 hours later i was basically dragged from the game by my girlfriend who wanted to watch her soaps....I WAS HOOKED!!!
its been ages since i played a game i didn't want to put down, and when i had too, looked forward again to playing it. as a fan of rpg games, you know its a great game when you can start playing it for a "quick" go and then find hours have passed yet you feel like you haven't even scratched the surface but seriously enjoyed it. the game reminded me of "sudeki" from the original xbox, the play style is simple yet involving and the world looks and feels as beautiful as that of the film "avatar" with its bright colours and feel of nature.
my first impressions of the game from the demo were washed away almost instantly once i started getting into it, and for the price tag of less then £20, you can't go wrong, the game is great and long, there is good DLC for it and i would definitly recommend it...the only criticism can give to it is: play it on hard from the get go, its much more fun but not hard so you can't enjoy it....AMAZING GAME!!!
on 14 June 2012
Recieved this game this morning and its so addictive i played 7 hours straight. So far it seems a really good game with so much to do it just doesnt get boring. Even though there are so many quests each one you complete advances your character and the levelling up is well thought through. What i find great about this game in comparison to other similar titles is there is no long periods of doing pretty much nothing and just exploring the terrain. Skyrim was a big problem for this dont get me wrong it was a great game but anyone who played that game right through will have got annoyed at some point at the amont of time your just wandering round the middle of nowhere. This game manages to use the fast travel system much better and with the amount of enemies you always seem involved. The combat system is nothing new but it sticks to a simple proven system of 1 button for normal attack 1 button for block another for dodging and a selection of special attacks thrown in. As i said nothing innovative but it works and heilps keep the game enjoyable. This is easily one of the best single player rpg games on the 360 (not much competition i know) Seen as you can now pick it up for a nice low price i would recomend it to all fans of the genre. Ok now an update on the review seen as i have now finished the game after around 80 hours of play time. My opinion of this game has only gone up it takes a special game to keep a player hooked for that amount of time and i believe this is a special game. Easily one of my fave games on the 360 it seems to have taken the best bits of skyrim and fable and combined them into 1 hugely entertaining game. Please if you read this having played the game yourself i would love to know your opinion because im just wondering am i the only 1 who thinks this is true brilliance?
on 11 February 2012
Now I am bold enough to say that this game will have something for everyone. I truly believe it does.
Warriar? Wizard? Thief?
Does this sound familiar? Of course it does! Any role playing game nowadays will have the basic builds for heroes, and it was Fable that first struck a nerve of integrating Melee, ranged and magic combat all into one-three button presses. No longer did a player need to concentrate on one build...they could master three. Anyway time has moved on and it would seem that Reckoning: KOA is happy to take a leaf out of Fables' book, pinch a straw or two from Elder scrolls and taa-daa....you have a combat system, along with a interactable world that works on so many levels its purely addictive! My character build at the moment is a rogue-ish kind of build. I can sneak up on the bad guys, execute a nice one hit kill complete with take down animation and then finish off anyone else at range with my bow. But if I get surrounded then its no problem for me to whip up a quick fire-storm to get rid of the enemy. Let me get one thing straight about this game....it is the combat and gameplay that make it a very brill title. Yes, the map is big and you can explore, talk to people, take on quests, break into peoples houses, steal stuff, pick flowers and go hunting. You can swim, dive for treasure (just like from Fable 2/3), you can brew potions, forge weapons and re-spec your character. Seriously this game has so much going on its amazing. But the combat and sheer number of cross-combo possibilities on offer are simply grand. If you want to be a real kick ass wizard then the game accomodates that and yes, the game can be a little easy in places but you do get a sense of power. It may not have the deep, deep, depth of Skyrim but then again what game truly does?? If you want a well rounded role playing game with really good character progression and ace combat then this game is for you. Think of Fable 3, if you like, then add in the bits that it was missing and you are somewhere near the mark.
A quick review of a game that I am 15 hours into. Buy this game! Now!
Many people try before they buy with games, by renting them first or borrowing from friends. I've a feeling that many people doing this with KOA:R may play the opening section, perhaps a bit beyond, and just leave it at that. It doesn't wow you in the first couple of hours, and although the story starts off on an interesting event - your character having died only to be recreated by a mysterious machine designed as the solution to war - the next few hours really fail at capitalising on this initial interest and drawing you into the story. The machine is destroyed by invading forces and you are told you are the only person in the world not affected by fate, but your character reacts to all this by staring blankly ahead during every conversation and saying nothing. Although brought to you by EA, who of course brought out the hugely engaging Mass Effect series, where voice acting is so integral to the game, here you merely choose your character's questions and responses from a list and have to imagine that he or she has said them. The silent protagonist approach can work well in some games (Half Life 2, the Fallout series), but I feel that this game, which is played in third person viewpoint, really suffers from not having a character that you can actually get to know and be interested in.
It's a real shame because once you get into the game there are some beautiful graphics, wide-open spaces, some depth in gameplay that isn't really revealed until you've levelled your abilities up a bit, and a slow-burning kind of charm that eventually wins you over and draws you in. I apologise for dwelling on negatives, especially as I'm going to dole out some praise in a minute, but I have to think a long way back before I can think of a game with an initial backstory that is so confused. Note the word I use; the initial part of the story isn't "confusing" as such, but is unfortunately incredibly muddled. The game allows you to create a character that is either human or a type of elf called Alfar. The world of KOA:R revolves around another kind of elf - the Fae - who you can't choose to play as and generally look down on everyone else, who they refer to as "mortals". There are good and bad Fae, and the bad Fae die as easily as everyone else does. This paradox is explained as the game moves on, and the story does become more coherent (though it quickly falls into a generic only-you-can-save-the-world and you-need-to-do-so-by-getting-allies mission statement).
I chose a Dokkalfar as my character and when I wandered into the first village found a human happy to badmouth my race of elf whilst saying that they're not like you or me, yet very soon afterwards a character in the main quest actually did seem to notice. There are many inconsistencies, and another of them can be found in that first village: I solved a quest that resulted in the gates of a religious compound being opened and then someone outside shouted out "What is the Mission hiding? Why are its gates forever closed?" Prior to this happening, you solve a quest where an acolyte was fooled by an Alfar as he believed that she was actually a Fae, however he wasn't confused that I was an Alfar. I however, was confused.
Where the game does excel is in its side quests. Visually, the game is very reminiscent of the original Fable, only ramped up several notches in grandeur and explorable area. The game world itself is not just large, not just huge, but absolutely gigantic, and pleasingly varied. It's a beautiful place to quest about in, and although none of the quests rise above anything you've seen before in other games (go to a dungeon, fight a bad thing, collect some relics), it's really great fun wandering about this large beautiful world and doing them. More than any other game, it's so easy to forget about the main quest for hours at a time whilst you simply wander round and fix people's floating exclamation marks for them. The main reason it is so fun is that the game has one of the best and most thought out fighting control systems I have seen for a game of this type.
You can specialise in rogue, warrior or sorcery skills, or a combination of two or all three. Usually the rogue option in this type of game is a poor relation to the other two, but in this game rogue certainly appears to be the best. Without having to pause the game and go to the inventory, a fight in this game as a rogue can see you charge round at speed cutting your opponents with dual blade attacks, rolling in a fraction of a second out to launch a ranged attack with your bow, rolling in again and chopping them up with a special move, defending an attack with your shield, firing an arrow storm from behind your shield, then rolling out to distance again and hurling a special rogue-aligned spell at them. That's not all - you can even set traps on the battlefield even in the midst of all that mayhem, as it only takes a second to do so, and position yourself so they walk into them. Fill up your special attack bar (a.k.a. Fate Meter) and you can inflict massive damage on your enemies - the more you manage to stagger (or "Fateshift") before the time runs out, the more XP you get. There is also an XP multiplier you can build by hammering a randomised button when the prompt appears on screen. Had this game been out a few years ago, people would be raving about the fluidity of its combat and the tactical element of when to use that Fateshift.
The artistic quality of the enemies does vary immensely. Some look fantastic, but a few of them look like drawing board rejects from similar games. I encountered a bug in the game where if you roll out of the patrol zone of some of the enemies they forget all about you trying to carve them into pieces and saunter casually away with their awareness icons reset, allowing you to sneak back up on them and backstab them for a stealth kill bonus. Oddly, even when you have a group of bandits sitting around in a circle and most of them notice you, getting up to fight, if one still has his back to you when you reach them, you can backstab him for that bonus.
All of the now standard RPG activities and inventory rules are to be found in this game. You can steal items from houses, pick locks, mix and match armour, get set bonuses for matching similar armour types, repair damaged equipment, send items you wish to sell later to a junk folder, forge new equipment, craft enchanted gems, level up your persuasion skills, break down old equipment into component pieces, and collect plant ingredients for alchemy. To illustrate the thought that has gone into the scenery, picture if you will the plants that you harvest reagents from actually physically wilting before your eyes as you pick from them. It's a wonderful little detail, and there are many more wonderful details - you can find lorestones that grant you XP and play audioclips such as folk ballads and legends; walk through some dungeons and a carpet of flowers grows out of the ground to greet you. Other aspects are less well thought through - there are gambling games to be found at the traveller camps and Summer Court, but they only happen through dialogue and are not worth playing more than once. You can own houses in this game, which allow you to stash some equipment (own more than one house and it's a joint stash), and can add in some of the various workbenches. You can also change your hairstyle. That's a small detail and some people may like it, but when are we going to actually own a house in one of these games and be able to do anything special in it? I don't mean furnish it, but see your character actually doing things such as eating dinner, playing musical instruments or inviting the neighbours round? Games designers never make the connection between buying a house and a house being a home. If my zero-personality character actually went home and started making stew or painting a picture, I'd be able to identify with him more.
Oh, and I have to complain about the ever present health and manna meter. Assassin's Creed: Revelations had the right idea in allowing you to remove these from the HUD if you wished to prevent burn in on your television. That top left display is an ever-present burn-in risk.
Although the main story is not the game's strongest feature (though I acknowledge that I haven't reached the end of it yet so there's always the possibility it improves), the side quests - though pretty standard stuff - can be great fun to play, and strike the right balance between serious and light hearted. The fighting system and some of the nice little touches in the game make it a great game for just wandering about in and having some fun. The scenery is worth the effort of travelling around this world, and I feel that had this been a few years ago, this game would have been top of its league. As it is, RPGs have moved on and come up with new and exciting developments. KOA:R is, I'm sorry to say it, a step back in this respect. Having said that, I'm not done playing this game. I've played about 40 hours of it so far and I still want to level my character up further and see all that I can see. The collector that comes out in me in such games wants to find and activate all the lorestones.
Now I've got to know it, this game is something I'll continue to enjoy playing, but would I recommend it to my friends? A few years ago I would have done, but the competing RPG games also available right now are making greater strides, I feel.
The score of four stars for "how much fun is this game" reflects that for me this game is more than "It's OK" and according to the Amazon star ratings, "I like it". I interpret Amazon's "How do you rate this game overall" as asking how you would recommend the game to others, and in this I honestly think it's a three if you want to compare to other such games and a four if you don't. I may seem to have dug into a lot of negative aspects with this review, but that's kind of a compliment, as I only usually go into such depth if I really like certain aspects of a game and wish that it had fulfilled its full potential. What I am definitely not being is negative for the sake of it, because in the final verdict I really do like and care about this game.
on 8 May 2012
KoA is a big, fun and sandboxy RPG. It's quite reminiscent of Fable, but with a more open feel to the world. The graphics and gameplay are very stylised - swords way too big for anybody to actually wield, shields that appear when needed and then vanish, your character easily surviving ninety foot drops by means of a neat tumbler's roll - but it's all great fun.
on 2 May 2012
What an incredible game...I had downloaded the Demo and was pretty impressed but when I bought it and started exploring, I realised what an amazing game it is. There is so much to see and do and before you know it you are hooked...I have only had it a few days and have already spent 12 hours playing it. It is truly amazing, Buy it, you won't be disappointed.
on 30 July 2012
Really enjoyable game. If you like ARPG's like Fable then this doesn't disappoint. Defintiely my cup of tea, I've completed the main story once, but there's still loads to do with that character and I've started a second play through with a different character too, using a different style on build.
Absolutely huge and beatiful open world, tonnes of caves, caverns, villiages, forests, fields, deserts, etc to explore with lots of different beasties to beat up along the way and the action is fantastic fun - fast, colourful, varied and simple to perform, it feels great pulling off a decent combo.
I spent my first play through finding, buying and selling equipment mostly, though on my second I've gone all in with binding gems, alchemy, blacksmithing, etc and I'm finding that a slightly more enjoyable way of doing things. It also drags the game out a bit longer, not that it's short by any means.
- occasionally the sound takes a second to catch up with what's just happened during a brief cut-scene, but it never affects gameplay or anything.
- lots of loading. Every time you enter a building, cavern, new ares, etc but I guess that's to be expected.
- great graphics and sound.
- varied builds to suit playing style.
- tonnes to explore and do.
- excellent action, fighting and magic feels increasinly fun and beasts for the killing are a-plenty.
- lengthy game, plenty to do, should last a long time before you get bored.
- bloody cheap for what it is, I bought it 1st hand for £15!
on 13 July 2012
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a third-person fantasy RPG in the same vein as the Dragon Age and Fable series of games. I've read other reviews that compare it to the epic Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim but this is an unfair comparison. The nature of the 3rd person game style means you never feel the same freedom that you do with Skyrim as the artificial nature of the landscape is much more apparent. You can only jump off ledges in certain places for example, the limits of the landscape in Skyrim felt much more natural. In truth it's a lot closer to the Fable series but it lacks those titles charm and humour as KoA:R can be a little po-faced with forgettable NPC's and average voice acting. The combat is one element which it scores well over its contemporaries, you can flow smoothly from special attacks to dodging and quick switching between close and ranged combat. You can chose to develop your character along the lines of 3 types of typical RPG classes, Warrior, Mage or Rogue, each time you level up you can invest points into skills and abilities specific to those classes. The weapons and armour are also split the same way, heavy armour and longswords for Warriors, daggers and light armour for Rogues etc. You generally have to pick your class early as otherwise you'll waste experience points investing in the wrong class, although later in the game you can pay to remove all the points you've spent and re-spend them as you chose. Like Skyrim you can craft your own weapons and armour as well as add 'shards' to them, these shards imbue the weapon or armour with an extra ability such as adding fire damage to your sword or adding lightning resistance to your gloves.
Overall it is an above average game that is worth a look if you've completed Skyrim, especially at the current price (£14.99). There's nothing other games don't do better but there's nothing it does badly so it should pass a few weeks, especially in the usual Summer lull of big game releases.