It’s a shame the app that let’s me make this compresses the image so harshly...

I’m not much of a turn-based JRPG player- I’m not really even a “good” gamer- but I am a sucker and a half for a good action RPG (especially western-made ones) and man, Kingdoms of Amalur really scratches that itch.

One of my favorite games on the original XBOX was Fable. I missed all the Moleneux hype, not learning about the game until right before release (and after the more...pie-in-the-sky promises). The game was a solid 8.5 for me, but simultaneously a revelation. But the sequel just didn’t click. I know Fable II is more beloved, and I really like the *idea* of where the series headed, but nothing ever captured and enraptured me the way the original did.

Then I played Amalur. It’s not in the same universe, it’s not made by the same team, it doesn’t have the morality or romance or interaction systems. Yet it feels like a spiritual successor.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is an action role-playing video game made by Big Huge Games and 38 Studios and published by EA (and 38) in 2012.

...because look at that 7MB beauty.

The game takes place on the world of Amalur in the Faelands- so named because one of the earliest inhabitants were the immortal fae. Players take control of a character (with their choice of gender, race, appearance and dialogue) who is not bound by Fate, and thus can alter it. It’s...hard to explain coherently here, but it’s all pretty straightforward in-game.

Right off the bat, the talent behind this game gives a +3 buff to Respect and Awe: Head Loremaster is R.A. Salvatore and lead Art Director is Todd MacFarlane- and regardless of how anyone may feel about their works or talent, they REALLY shine in this game. From the wildlife and people to the creatures and enemies, to the deep- yet digestible- lore, this game shines. Also, I don’t know if I mentioned it, but it really shines. It’s such shiny entertainment it might be Earthworm Jim.

Dat Bear Doh...

The gameplay has a nice shellacking as well. Just like all the other aspects of this game, combat is simple and intuitive, yet robust. In games like Skyrim, I don’t like playing magic characters as I feel the combat is lackluster. In Fable, magic is mostly relegated to spells. But Amalur has weapons, spells, and armor specifically for Wizard© type players, without hampering their ability to kick ass like a Mark Millar comic.

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It’s also very accommodating for deceitful, sneaky, sticky-fingered Rogue© types, like myself. Daggers/faeblades, bows, stealth, and all manner of special moves are available and useful. Whether slicing the throat of a sleeping innocent, picking off bears from a distance, or pickpocketing every dollar from the asshole who was rude one time- in the hopes that they can’t afford rent and are forced to live in the wilderness amongst wolves and boggarts (maybe next time you WILL feel like a chat, KEVIN!)- there are plenty of options for Finesse.

Don’t uh...d- don’t mind that watermark. It’s...um..my online handle. Yeah! It means “I Game Nicely”, so...

Fighter© types are also given plenty of options. In addition to the standard longswords, there’s also hammers and greatswords (the most powerful) available for players who prefer dealing as much damage in as few hits as possible, speed be damned. If you’re the type of player who would rather roam the land giving wedgies to nerds and letting hammers handle all negotiations, there’s plenty of blood to spill and options to do so.

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Finally, there’s the ability to mix and match classes (or, Destinies, as they’re known in-game). Maybe you’re a meathead with arcane affinities, or a Hammer & Faeblade kinda pinko commie. Whether Jack-of-All-Trades or simply Bi-spectual, there’s a class for ya.

The visuals in this game are *chef kiss*. While I’m sure some of the graphical choices are due to system restraints, I’m also extremely fond of the stylized, caricature, fantasy comic look of everything.

The Gardens of Ysa, Capitol of the Summer Fae, were grown by hand rather than built

Unlike- say- Skyrim, the expansive world in Reckoning is so varied in its locals and environments that it’s hard to get bored with any one biome. From lush, magical forests to dry, red deserts to sullen swamps and all areas in between, the locations players find themselves in are all candy to the Ocular Orbs of sightseeing.

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Blacksmithing, Alchemy, and Sagecraft are all present and satisfying. I love making weapons and armor to sell (or use), crafting useful potions, and giving my gear a gem-infused boost, respectively.

I seriously can’t praise this game enough. I actually started last year and quit right before I beat it because I didn’t want the game to end. Ten months to the day later, I have already put three times the hours in. It’s just dope. So dope that I urge any Americans NOT to play it- as I don’t wish to contribute to the Opiod Crisis.

Batter up!

Now, it would be remiss if I didn’t mention the p̶i̶e̶c̶e̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶s̶h̶i̶t̶ ̶C̶u̶r̶t̶ ̶S̶c̶h̶i̶l̶l̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶i̶s̶ closing of 38Studios and Big Huge Games, so I’m going to take the time to explain why we probably won’t be seeing this all-star creative team make a proper sequel. So pay attention while I deftly weave through the controversies and nuance of this situation:

38Studios and Big Huge Games closed down. More info can be found on Google.

Well it’s not a perfect game, by any stretch- a solid 8.5 at best (that’s twice I’ve called a half-point “solid”, for anyone keeping score). Though I would argue that it doesn’t *need* much more than what a standard sequel would bequeath. So here’s some things that would be nice additions.

This is a minor gripe that’s easily surmountable, but it would be welcome all the same. While not a deal-breaker, it’s really irritating to turn left, only to realise you read the map wrong and had to turn right. I know what the “N” stands for on a minimap, it doesn’t have to remain static. I’m not going to panic and think the 14th letter of the alphabet is trying to flank me when I see it rotate, but I am going to throw a bitchfit- the likes of which has never been seen before- every time I have to open the map proper in order to orient myself.

“Nakka dakka dyer!!”

Since a sequel would be on current-gen, it would be nice if there were no loading screens when walking between outdoor areas or into villages/towns/etc. Even if there has to be loading for buildings, the rest should be seamless. This is something plenty of other lastgen games manage (Skyrim, GTA, RDR, Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland, etc) so I’m sure current systems could handle it. So get your shit together, devs. Get it all together and put it in a back pack- specifically your shit- so it’s together.

The dialogue system is “Mass Effect-lite”. But while it’s great for info-dumps, the rest almost doesn’t matter. You can choose whether or not to accept a quest- and you can be mostly polite or sorta rude- but it never seems to matter in the grand scheme. That’s...I mean, it’s serviceable. Definitely not preferred, though. Whether I choose to be a goody two shoes, diabetes-inducing sweetheart, or an abrasive, pus-filled dickhole, I want to have “real” chats with people (beyond just “Yes/No, I will/won’t take this quest”) and I want my words to matter.

*Good, Bad, Ugly Theme*

Speaking of which...

Sure, I’m roaming around the world doing great deeds. But what if I’m just an utter cockcheese to talk to? It would be cool to have a reputation that proceeds me. There’s a teeny tiny little bit of it in the game already, and every time an NPC mentions something I’ve done it makes me ever so slightly giddy (it’s...mostly sexual).

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But there are SO MANY amazing things I have done or accomplished, my ego is shouting the hook to a Billy Squier song...yet no one seems to know. Random NPCs STILL think it’s ok to discuss the weather instead of how I single-handedly made trolls an endangered species (and roads safer). Po-Po still talk smack like I won’t gut a pig and make bacon just for side-eyeing me wrong. You’d think more people would gossip about the sexy Dark Elf who OPENED A DOOR SEALED BY FATE. It’s maddening.

Yeah, those wolves that ate your first husband? They’re dead. Please, don’t even notice me.

Also, a rudimentary facsimile of Bethesda’s Radiant AI. Sure, the NPCs go to sleep, but I would have no qualms slaughtering every person alive- as they seem more like Westworld androids than real citizens.

That’s all for big changes/additions. But there are still minor tweaks to be made (that I think a proper sequel would probably fix/address regardless) so in no particular order...

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Fix the camera. It’s not that it’s broken, per se, but it occasionally doesn’t have the best view. For instance, while fighting a group of enemies on a ledge, one will fall odd to their death. The camera will follow them down, then stay stuck. Sometimes it gets stuck on geometry. Sometimes it frames conversations by blocking the speaker with whatever debris nearby can best fill the foreground. It could also use some tightening (not exactly Gears of War tight, but at least TLoU.)

There’s a problem where the character occasionally gets stuck in geometry. Sometimes it’s just a matter of dodging correctly to be free, while other times it takes a conversation. And at least once, I was stuck in shade with my only recourse being to load a previous save.

Then all the normal stuff. Extra skills, higher levels, more customization options (more races, too...maybe the option to make an attractive character with more than just Dokkalfar), etc.

Alright, I gotta talk about tightness again. This is my final word on the camera...

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Look, I don’t want to get TOO in-depth here and alienate any readers, but I have to use DevSpeak™ momentarily in order to explain what I meant about the camera.

See, most likely it’s just a bit of loosey goosey code that’s causing the issue. If we made the camera code do some kegels, it would just tighten it up enough to be perfect. I’m sure that, to a layman (or layWOMAN- it’s 2017, women can be base-standard ignorant too) it may sound too simple to just tighten up some code, but that’s because most people don’t realize how easy it is to make games.

Straight through the heart...and you’re to blame...

Check it: If you have this game on PC, click open the MAINFRAME folder, then ROOT_BIOS, GAME.ENGINE, and finally SOURCE_CODE. Scroll down until you find “<CONTROLS=[CAMERA]> \L0053_G0053.src.cde”. Now Copy/Paste this simple if/then right next to it- “{IF<[CAMERA]>=LOOSEY.GOOSEY_b34t.ch33k5}\\v//{THEN<[TIGHTEN]>=D4T_5H1T}” ... And, Boom, enjoy a better camera.

Reckoning was the first game by 38 & Big Huge, and it’s one hell of a first outing. In a perfect world, the men and women who poured their blood, sweat, and years into making a big commercial success out of a new studio’s first game would be granted a chance to make the sequel they envisioned.

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Another (also now defunct) studio who I think could take a stab at it is BioWare Montreal. I know people weren’t too keen on ME:Andromeda, but I bet they could have done a good Amalur 2. Though, no Frostbite Engine. Stick with Unreal.

The good news: This is not how armor works for female players. The Bad: This is Alyn Shir, she’s somehow the stealthiest character.

I can’t really think of another dev because EA owns the IP. So the good news is there may one day be another, the bad news is it’s EA. Their current trajectory/company roadmap is “Games as Service”, and Amalur isn’t that type of game. If it were a few years earlier- when the idea was “Innovation and Fun”- I would have a little more faith.

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How about you? Do you have a good developer in mind? (Besides me) Do you want to see a sequel? Is this game “Um, Actually!” terrible, as well as all my childish attempts at “humor”? Sound off in the comments!

UPDATE: Hey, so you know what would be really stupid? Investing over 115hours in a game and bitching the whole time about a minor inconvience (that’s at least important enough to warrant its own section for things that need fixed) only to find out it has a toggle in the options. The minimap isn’t permanently locked, I’m just a dumbass!

So just pretend the banner says, “More Customization Options” and I spent more than a sentence about it. Ugh...