Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a single-player action role-playing game with an impressive pedigree. Ken Rolston, the lead designer of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, acts as the game's executive designer. Additionally, noted fantasy author R.A. Salvatore created the game universe and lore, with Todd McFarlane, creator of Spawn, working on the artwork. It is being released by 38 Studios and Big Huge Games on February 7, 2012 in North America and February 10, 2012 in Europe. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning features five distinct regions, four playable races, and three class trees with twenty-two abilities per tree. The playable races are the Almain (noble Humans) the Dokkalfar (Dark Elves), the Ljosalfar (Light Elves), and the Varani (nomadic Humans). The class (or ability) trees are Might, Finesse, and Sorcery; corresponding to fighter, rogue, and mage classes respectively. The player starts off as a "blank slate," having awakened in a pile of corpses after returning from the dead. The game utilizes a unique "destiny" system, whereby players invest in a skill-tree system to unlock various "destinies," which act as the class system for the game. Combat works based on the timing of button presses, similar to the style of an action RPG, with occasional quick-time events like those in the God of War series. 38 Studios founder Curt Schilling (former Boston Red Sox Pitcher), originally began developing the Amalur universe for use in an MMO, codenamed 'Copernicus'. After acquiring Big Huge Games in 2009, the studio decided to transform the project into a single-player RPG. There are still plans to expand the Amalur universe into an MMO after the release of Reckoning. A playable demo was released on January 17, 2012 for Windows (Steam and Origin only), Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

As a fan of the Dragon Age franchise from Bioware, I was admittedly curious about Amalur and quickly downloaded the demo last week. Big Huge games and Bioware are participating in a cross-promotional event whereby demoing both Amalur and the upcoming Mass Effect 3 (another favorite game series of mine), earns you some in-game perks for each game once you purchase them. One thing that I really appreciated about Amalur is that the human male characters you are able to create really look like “heroic” warriors. My male human Varani character looked like an awesome hybrid of Thor and Conan the Barbarian; plus the crafting skills allow you to create your very own personalized weapons and armors, etc. In this game I preferred the large two-handed hammers over most other weapons. Those really packed a hell of a wallop, and naming mine (Yurthur, by the way) was pretty cool. After the initial sequence is completed, you are given 45 minutes to romp around select portions of the world of Amalur, and there are a variety of things to experience during the demo. It is lots of fun, and in my opinion, with the dynamic combat, colorful world and interesting character customizations, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning will prove to be popular. Recommended!

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