Kingdoms of Amalur Review After Streaming for 26 hours

(Note: All my impressions are based on the 360 version of the game, with little to no issues except the occasional frame rate hiccup when using magic with lots of enemies on the screen/entering a new zone. Loading times were drastically decreased after install.)

Over the last 3 days I’ve streamed Kingdoms of Amalur for over 26 hours. A staggering amount that might suggest that I was either getting paid or I was obsessed with the game. Neither is true. I did it because it was a fun experiment for my not so often used stream equipment, and there seemed was a big enough interest in the game to warrant streaming it. The purpose of this post is to get out my thoughts on the game after playing it for so long, and hopefully help you guys make a decision regarding if you should buy it or not.

Devil May Cry this is not, nor does it need to be. Kingdoms separates itself from all other open world games such as Skyrim and Fable with its combat system. If I had to best describe it, I would call it Devil May Cry lite, reminiscent of the combat found in Darksiders. You will charge attacks, you will delay attacks, you will use abilities, and yes, you will mash. There are plenty of combo options available such as doing 3 hits into a launcher, shooting the enemy with your bow twice, and finishing it off with a quake slam. But often more than not, there isn’t a need or incentive to do anything as elaborate as that.

There are plenty of cities in Kingdoms.

The Difficulty of Kingdoms, or lack thereof.  If an enemy doesn’t die before you get off one of your non-mashed combos, then chances are it will either get interrupted (and effectively stunned), or commit to a powerful attack. Unfortunately thanks to potions you don’t really need to worry about the latter. Healing potions in the game cost very little, heal a ton, and have no limit on how many you can carry. It’s clear that the developers at 38 Studios and Big Huge Games were inspired by the Diablo 2 potion chugging days, but with no delay of the healing effect it just becomes a broken game mechanic. The AI itself is okay, with the computer on hard mode often relying on surrounding me with melee enemies and placing powerful spell casters as far away as possible.

Some call it Fate, others call it Choice. Any good open world game presents the player with tons of choices or things to do. Kingdoms does a lot of things right, but this is where it hugely succeeds. The three class trees – Finesse, Wisdom, and Might, all play radically different from each other. Respeccing entails nothing more than visiting the fateweaver and paying an inexpensive fee. There’s also an overwhelming amount of quests split into main quests, faction questions (which are often as interesting as the main quests), side quests, and tasks. If you ever grow bored pursuing one of these lines, all you have to do is track a different one and fast travel to its location. The quests themselves are often varied enough to keep you engaged, but the same cannot be said for the locations they take place in.

This is not Fable or WoW.

Quest locations, or: Caves, caves, and more caves.  The art style for the game is heavily inspired by World Of Warcraft and is very much what WoW would look like if upgraded for current gen. At its best moments you’ll be traversing fields filled with color, as the skyscrapers of the city loom over the horizon. But during the majority of the game, you’ll be exploring dark caves that are nothing more than straightforward corridors, sporting a dull color palette perfect for putting you to sleep. It is beyond me why the developers would choose to so frequently force the player in these boring caves when such interesting castles, fields, and others are available.

Pictured: Not a cave.

Wait, the whozamawhatsit did what now? Hiring R.A. Salvatore to write the story of Kingdoms, many are eagerly waiting to devour the universe of the game with open mouths. I’m not familiar with Mr. Salvatore’s work myself, but man, does the guy like his jargon. Featuring NPCs that spew line after line of unintelligible high-fantasy terms, the plot in Kingdoms would make Square-Enix and Final Fantasy XIII envious. It’s sort of clear who the bad guys are and why they want to kill you, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that I’m entirely missing out ona few subplots of the game. The story is serviceable, but it is not the reason to stay in the Kingdoms of Amalur.

Gimme the loot. Kingdoms is full of loot and is it glorious. You will find huge upgrades for all of your equipment sometimes within the same hour, guaranteeing that you’ll be fiending for more. Just like Diablo 2, there are sets of armor that if you complete you will receive additional bonuses. A nice touch. Gold is actually worth something here, as repairing armor can be expensive and vendors often sell great items. One minor qualm I had with the game is that armor takes way too long to start looking decent. 15 hours in the game and my rogue character was worse dressed than I am in real life.

The stream set up.

Haters gonna hate. Going over my review it might seem like I’m “down” on the game or I didn’t enjoy it, but that’s not true. Kingdoms of Amalur does a lot of things right, and it’s easy to see that from the already released videos and limited reviews. I just wanted to address some of the issues that bigger review sites might not mention or care to think of. I’m not done with the game yet, but if I had to score it based on what I played so far, I would give something like an 8 out of 10. Or on the IGN scale, a 25.23 out of 10.

 

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to ask. If you want to see more of my content, including already archived footage of this game, I suggest checking out:

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Spruchy

Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/Spruchy

TwitchTV: http://www.twitch.tv/Spruchy

Thanks!

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~ by spruchy on February 6, 2012.

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