So how many games are coming out this year that have Ken Rolston (The guy behind Elder Scrolls titles Morrowind and Oblivion), Todd MacFarlane (The man behind Spawn) and R.A. Salvatore (NY Times bestselling Author) all working on it? Just the one I can think of and boy does it look like a beauty. Welcome to the Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, the new open world action RPG from the folks at 38 Studios and Big Huge Games (the studio who brought you the great Rise of Nations).
Amalur – A world to be Reckoned with
First thing I’d love to touch on here is the world you play in, Amalur. Never before has a writer put as much work as Salvatore has into creating not just a vast open world with plenty of things to see and do (50+ hours to cross the map sound good?) but a world with such a rich and detailed history and lore, one dating back some 10,000 years! And then to have it brought to life visually by a Grammy and Emmy award-winning artist in MacFarlane and all pieced together by one of the best known RPG designers in Rolston. This is possibly one of the greatest creative dream teams to have at the helm of any game, particularly a Fantasy RPG, and so far it looks like it has paid off.
Graphics wise this looks like a throwback to the style of the original Fable before it went sour; a nice bright colourful environment that if received as well as I expect by the fans, I think we can look forward to seeing it’s return in other games in the genre as well, but for now I say eat it up in KOA-R.
Onto the gameplay as I touched on earlier, this game is huge, so big in fact it’s rumoured to take a estimated 50+ hours to cross the map. On your way, passing through 5 distinct regions all in the one game, that you – as 1 of the 4 playable races (The Ljosalfar, the Varani, the Dokkalfar, and the Almain) – can fight and explore while building up your skills in one of the three class trees. Each one with 22 unique abilities of their own. Amalur also features a rich crafting system with blacksmithing and alchemy being present, as well featuring over 280 different sets of armour. These is the RPG elements of the likes of Oblivion mixed in with a fast and fusion action combat style including some QTE’s like those seen in the God Of War series. It is as some have aptly called it, ‘The perfect marriage.’
Taking Fantasy to new levels
Story wise I don’t want to ruin too much for you here, so I won’t type 1000 words on what you’re sure to have a great time experiencing yourself come February. You start of lying on top of a heap of corpses, the first successful person to be resurrected from the dead. Unbound by fate and the worries of mortals, you are free to determine your own destiny while you shape the world around you. With the 6 different factions of Amalur at war with one another (and each with their unique storylines and quests) it’s up to you to put it back together all the while you are on your own journey to hunt the person responsible for your death.
The world around you is filled with the rival factions fighting one another, and random events and quests that you might see and experience once and never again or that you might see but your friend doesn’t in his own game. Nothing is certain and in an RPG that looks to stand out above the rest, that is one of the biggest selling points. Tell your mate about the Giant spider that chased down the deer and laugh while he complains he can never see it, but watch out because he is bound to have a few encounters that you’ll be jealous of as well. It’s the kind of game that can keep you coming back for more to see where the world takes you.
Something for everyone
So when I was first asked to write about this game, I’ll be honest, I was confused as to why... I’m not the RPG guy here at AAG, but the more I saw of this game and the more I heard about it, the more I realised; hey you don’t need to be ‘The RPG Guy’ to enjoy this. I mean I’m the bloke who generally sticks to my action shooters and sports games, yet here I sit now hyped for an Action RPG that I just know will be a mainstay in my Xbox for a while once it’s out in early February 2012 and judging from the response from our own resident RPG fanatic, it’s one that looks set to stay in the trays of everyone - from the casual new guy like me to the hardened RPG veterans sitting there right now reading this.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is published by EA Games and set to release in February 2012 on Xbox 360, PS3 and Windows PC.