Tag Archives: Halo 4

2012 in review – Games? We got games…

To some, an epic battle of beast versus noble knight. To me? Monday morning.

Gamers have lived in interesting times in 2012.  From Doritosgate  to a new console from Nintendo, from Kickstarter letting star developers of yore crowd-source funds for niche titles to the NRA blaming pop culture (and, inevitably, video games) for inspiring real-life violence, to studios like Sony Liverpool and even publishers like THQ either closing down permanently or entering Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to that “Mass Effect 3” ending, there’s been no shortage of stories on the daily games blogs to make you say “…hmm”.

Perhaps this weird sense of flux is partially attributable to the waning days of this gaming generation? With the debut of a hand-held  iterative system like the PS Vita and the aforementioned Wii U heralding the onset of a new generation of home systems, it’s probably not unusual to expect some consolidation in gaming – especially with the competition from smart phones being an ongoing agitant and conspiring to win yet more eyeballs and minds from the traditional gaming monoliths of Sony and Nintendo (next to whom, implausibly, Microsoft are the peppy young upstart of the sector).  If you’re not fast enough to keep up, and can’t get attention quickly, your game’s in the bargain bins two weeks after release and your studio will doubtless be downsizing headcount left, right and centre.  Who would want to be a games dev?  Not me, that’s for sure.

It would be easy to get downhearted, but there’s always reasons to get excited about this hobby – titles which engage so much that they persuade an otherwise sane gamer to invest 51 hours of his life (and counting) into a fantasy universe without really denting the main quest line – if you’ve read this blog at all this year, you’ll be in no surprise when I tell you that “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning” was my favourite game of 2012.

It’s not one which has featured much in the year-end discussion – that honour goes to the likes of Tell Tale’s “The Walking Dead”, ThatGameCompany‘s art-em-up, “Journey”, steampunk stealth fest, “Dishonored” and the revived “Halo 4” – but it’s the game which pulled me back in, hour after hour, level after level to discover the secret provenance and reason for my seven foot blue elven ranged scout’s mysterious resurrection from death.

"Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning" is my game of 2012

“Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning” is my game of 2012

Lots of action, deep lore (with a story by R.A. Salvatore), charming music, a neat inventory system and an indefinable x-factor which compels you to keep forging ahead even with the likes of “ME3”, “Halo 4” and every thing that XBLA/PSN/Steam could offer calling you away – that’s what my game of 2012 offered.  “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning” is the overlooked gem of 2012 and the title which I hope somehow sees a renaissance worthy of it’s central plot line on the soon-to-be-unveiled next gen systems from Microsoft and Sony.

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Rogue Gaming

Whilst the rest of the gaming world is currently hip-deep in this Autumn’s onslaught of must-have franchise entries – “Halo 4“, “Black Ops 2”, “Assassin’s Creed 3“, to quote but three titles currently snaring gamer hearts and minds – I’ve found myself enraptured by…something else.

The game which torpedoed it’s studio – but it’s a lot better than that factoid suggests…

Yep – “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning” – the brainchild of former baseball great Curt Schilling, brought to life by a team headed by legendary game designer Ken Rolston, sterling fantasy novelist R.A. Salvatore and comics superstar/geekery mainstay Todd McFarlane.

I picked this game up in the summer and finally got stuck into playing it a couple of weeks ago – and I’m loving every second of it.  Action RPG games are definitely my bag and this game from EA and the now-shuttered 38 Studios/Big Huge Games gives me the stuff that I love – comparing stats, loot grabbing, multiple classes of characters, fast action against hordes of bad guys, huge maps full of fun environments to explore and the obligatory giant mutant spider Big Bad villains to lay the smack down upon.

There is nothing new here, arguably, but the game’s determination to reduce the barrier to entry for new players in this sub-genre – combat is easy to pick up, the skill trees are easy to understand, there’s freedom to re-specify your character if you find that you don’t want to be a mage and want to be an assassin, say – is a real selling point.

Eat swirly, elemental arrow doom, dark creatures of the forest!

If you’re a fantasy nerd and you want to pick up a game which scratches your Elf/Dwarf/Wizard itch whilst looking gloriously colourful and appealing, “Amalur” is definitely worth your time.

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