When thinking about Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, it's difficult not to be impressed by the development line-up. You've got Todd McFarlane, who is known for creating some crazy looking monsters and some incredibly stylish heroes and villains. Ken Rolston, who is best known for creating some of the enthralling environments in gaming history, providing absolutely unforgettable backdrops that players would hold as a standard for open world RPG game design for years to come. And R.A. Salvatore, who is best known as the guy who is responsible for every other elf player you'll find in an MMO being named Drizzt, or some variation thereof.
But despite this line-up, it's not their individual contributions to nerdity over the years that peaks my interest. Instead, it's but the possibilities of what such an alliance would mean, and how we, as gamers, can only benefit.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is where this alliance is put to the test and thankfully EA was kind enough to put out a demo for all us fanboys to jump right in and start becoming uncontrollably hyped. Here's my
Combat: Within my first fifteen minutes of actual gameplay I was already disappointed with the way combat was going. It wasn't due to a lack of fun, moreso, it was that I was unprepared for the sort of experience that Amalur was trying to deliver. Being able to swap between casting, melee, and ranged is something the Fable series has made us all fairly used to, but the finesse that Amalur brings to the table is fairly impressive. It made me really regret selecting a melee race, as I found out that using an archery/caster combo was rather neat. After that, my initial disappoint was dissipated.
Talent Trees: This is something that's pretty standard RPGs these days, but it's still neat to see what each developer comes up with. Being given multiple talents to spread across a wider variety of skills is definitely cool, and it allows for a fairly deep character from the get-go, although I felt that each talent having multiple ranks was kind of a cop-out in general. Here's hoping that the full version provides a little more depth, but I doubt it.
Story: Naturally the setting is extremely impressive, and when it comes to storytelling Amalur does seem to deliver (at least from the perspective of the demo). Perhaps this is a little picky, but I was disappointed that the main character is lacking a voice himself. It doesn't really take away from the immersion, but it would have been a nice extra touch. The few characters we're given a chance to interact with alongside what we do know about the history of Amalur should be enough if an incentive to spur players forward when the game releases.
Exploration: One of the best parts of the demo was wandering about, discovering caves, hidden shrines and surprise quests. It definitely provided a lot of encouragement to use up as much of the 40 minute timer as I possibly could, running all over the forest, trying to find as many bonus items or hidden spots as possible before the demo ran out. It's nice to have such a straightforward experience in a game, and I can't help but be excited to see what the rest of the world (Fae or otherwise) looks like.
In summary, there are still a few concerns regarding the game that the demo is really in no position to answer. For example, the level of depth to the gameplay in the long run, or even how well the story will hold up. But looking at things from a level perspective, Amalur seems to be as solid as I could have hoped for. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning will see a full release in North America on the 7th of February, and a European release on the 10th of February.