Review by rboggi2
RPG Review: Here is your RPG, In Your Face
Scale Used: Poor, Bad, Mediocre, Good, Excellent
Graphics: Good, smooth, gorgeous and immersing landscape, NPC's lack detail and variety. Some monsters and areas come off as "cartoonish".
Sound/Music: Good, fairy tale tracks go perfectly along with the fairy tale landscape. Battle music is the same throughout and lets you know when you pull enemy aggro. Gets old and will not get you excited to do some thrashing like some other games. Voice acting is well done, I particularly enjoyed the soft Scottish female accents.
Plot: Mediocre, fairly original, you are the only self-determined person in a land otherwise run by fate and immortals who relive the same lives over and over. There are only two NPC's that you will meet with on a continual basis, leaving every other NPCs story and quest line entirely irrelevant. You will end up skipping 90% of conversations as they have no effect on anything and are often long-winded. The writing is fairly good if you appreciate that.
Character Creation: Mediocre, you choose between 4 races, 2 of which are elves, then gender, looks etc. Then you choose one special perk that adds a flat stat bonus of some sort, then that's basically it. These choices aren't very important at all to the development of your character and how you can play them, its just sort of blah.
World: Excellent, you can choose to explore where you want when you want, regardless of quests. World area is divided into leveled zones, each zone having an average level for its monsters that may be above or below the PCs. Within each zone, there may be towns to get quests, shop, craft etc., and/or various dungeons. Everything about this is fairly flawless, and fast travel makes traversing long distances a breeze. Some of the best quest tracking and mini-map I have seen in a game.
Questing: Mediocre. Quest types are divided into Main, Faction, Side, and Tasks, which are just repeatable side quests. This is self-explanatory. At completion of a quest, you will get experience and gold or an item and possibly another quest. The experience points given is relatively paltry and so is the gold. You will find the biggest rewards from killing, looting and selling. Later in the game, you can opt to not do side quests or any tasks and save yourself some time as they will be worthless. Faction quests will end with a permanent stat boost reward upon completion of the quest chain but offer no unique bonuses or benefits from its guild members. If you like the idea of developing an unique identity and style by your game choices, like you can do in some other games, this is not it.
Loot System: Mediocre. Loot is randomized, color coded and classified into rarity, which console RPGs seem to be doing nowadays as if gamers are unable to determine how powerful an item is unless it is in pretty purple text. You will get so much garbage it really isn't funny. Fortunately, there is a very handy junk feature where you can sell all the items you want in one button push. Crafting items will become more powerful than any item you may get from quests, and this is just kind of sad for an RPG. I want the best sword from the badass dragon so I can feel good.
Character Development/Mechanics: Bad. There is no preset class, so you put your skill points into either a warrior, rogue, or mage skill tree. This allows for some interesting hybrids and playing styles. However, if you are a power gamer, and strive to be uber powerful at every level, you will be fairly disappointed. The system doesn't allow you to progress up the tree until a TOTAL number of skill points have been spent in that tree, making you choose skills and abilities you may not want just to progress to the next tier. There are also major balance issues, with some skills being useless, underpowered, or overpowered. Fortunately, you are able to experiment and reset everything you have done by paying some gold to a certain NPC. This area gets an especially low rating because of a critical game interface decision: you are only allowed to map 4 abilities/spells to your quick use slots. This means you are heavily limited to what tactics you can do in the heat of battle, unless you want to constantly go into the menu and change your configuration. This will result in repetitive spam attacks, especially if you decide on a spell caster style. If you enjoy simplicity in your game mechanics, consider this a mediocre rating then.
Challenge: Poor. You will have hardly any trouble dispatching enemies, bosses, end game bosses on the hardest difficulty. You will not get that sense of "wow, that was a good fight, I feel good". Not a total game ruiner because the combat is still fun and addictive, but pretty disappointing if you like a good challenge.
This game is solid 7/10 material, pretty good for new and possibly upcoming studio. The game plays like a hybrid form of an MMORPG and console RPG which has some good things and bad as I have described. Overall, its relative simplicity and upfront "here is your RPG" delivered to your face make this less than a great game. I would recommend trying it, but you probably won't remember it much after your done.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (US, 02/07/12)
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