Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning – demoed!

I have to confess that I’ve been a bit remiss on the gaming side of things.  Since finishing “Uncharted 3” in the run up to Christmas, my time has been monopolised by other things.  This is partly by choice, as I decided to throw some of my energies into reading through the growing stack of novels by my bedside before they formed some kind of sentient, gaudy covered Jenga-like tower of my undoing.

I’ll get to that in a post later this week – blame GoodReads.com and the Sword and Laser podcast for getting me hooked on books anew – but I want to touch on a game demo which reeled me in like a conga eel at the weekend.  I’m talking about the latest action/RPG from EA, Big Huge Games and 38 Studios, “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning”.

If you’re currently neck-deep in your “Skyrim” quest lines, I’m not sure that you’ll find a great deal in the “Amalur” demo to drag you away from your Dragonborn adventures but if you’ve skipped “Skyrim” – and, believe it or not, there are people who haven’t set foot in that epic digital realm – it’s entirely possible that this hybrid fantasy adventure might be your particular flagon of Elven Ale.

For one thing, it’s inevitably a more directed experience, at least in the demo portion that I’ve played.   You watch some cut scene action, create a character and go on a extended tuition of combat, mechanics and get some back story thrown in.  It’s not an earth-shattering approach to the genre, but it is nicely assured and seems to be a slightly better job of chucking you into a single-player action fantasy setting than EA’s “Dragon Age 2” did in 2011.

As is so often the case for me, I’ve gone for the female Elf archetype and played through the demo focusing on combat as much as any of the other talents which you can level up.  And the combat, at least in this vertical slice of game, is accessible, fun and makes you feel like you can mix things up to suit your style until you have the measure of the enemies being pitted against you.

Dodge about a bit, hit some poor unfortunate lackey with arrows from a distance, dash back in and lay waste with your short blades – it’s often so tough to get this stuff right in games, but on the evidence of this demo, if “Amalur” gets something dead on, it’s the fighting.  Boding well for the full retail release, I’m saying.

The settings are fun, the meta-game collection aspects are well integrated and the conversation system is accessible to anybody who’s picked up and played “Mass Effect” in this console generation.   That comparison alone may suggest to whether you want to play it or not, but I’m enjoying what I’ve played of this game and might be reorganizing my time to give this game some attention once it comes out on the 10th of February in the UK.

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