by Nataniel Hohl
reviewed on X360
Set for success
To say that Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, developed by Big Huge Games and published by Electronic Arts, is not your everyday RPG would be a huge understatement. Featuring a completely original setting and lore penned by legendary fantasy author R.A. Salvatore, monsters designed by Todd McFarlane, the popular graphic artist who worked on the comic-book world Spawn, and being led by Elder Scrolls III and IV head designer Ken Rolston, Reckoning has set rather a high bar for itself. But is it able to meet the expectations?
Life finds a way...
Reckoning starts up by immediately throwing the player a curve ball: you’re dead. Or, to be more specific, you *were* dead but thanks to a large and mysterious device known as the Well of Souls, you have been brought back to life with no memory of who you were or how you died in the first place. After a brief session of getting to pick their character’s race, facial features and name, the player is dumped into the bowels of the Well of Souls and their subsequent resurrection and escape serve as the game’s tutorial as well as the opening backdrop for its plot.
As the player picks up scant details about the Well’s creation and the gnomes who keep it running, they learn the basics of movement and combat and manage to piece together some rudimentary arms and armour to help them defeat the mysterious bad guys who have suddenly shown up and started slaying the Well’s inhabitants. After a brief meeting with the Well’s creator, the player manages to escape into the world above and from there they are free to choose their own path.
Down the rabbit hole...
The first thing most players will likely notice as they take their first steps into the above-ground world of Amalur is how darn colourful it is. Bright vibrant visuals seep into every single one of Reckoning’s varied environments from lush green forests to expansive red canyons and deserts and the deep purples and blues that swirl around some of the more magic-touched areas in the game, and even the menacing yellows and sickening greens of the game’s swamps add another layer of depth and immersion to the world.
Some have criticized Reckoning’s colorful coating as being too cartoony or too “World of Warcraft-esque” and while the large intake of colour and ambiance can be a bit overwhelming if you’re used to more conservative palettes like Skyrim, its emphasis on making its areas feel alive and ambient is still one of Reckoning’s greatest strengths when it comes to making itself stand out from most other RPG’s.
An immersive and fun adventure for those who may have grown bored of Skyrim
A convoluted story and MMO-esque traits might turn some folks off