Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Review (PC)

As far as new IP’s go, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning has hit the ground running – it’s rich, it’s engaging (once you get going), and there’s just enough to set it apart from the current Fantasy headliners. At the time of writing, the game has already been off to a good start, but of course the question is – which version do you buy? All the platforms have their merits – PC’s can potentially have better graphics, Xbox 360 has the achievement and social aspect nailed down, and the PS3 remains the most powerful console, so it the perfect halfway house there.

Think I'm going to need a bigger dagger...
Today though, we’re going to be talking to you about the PC version – you can read Chris’ review for our general opinion on the game, which was played on the console. In contrast, the PC SKU seems to be the more stable of the two – bugs have been very rare – although there seems to be have been some kind of misfire or glitch with one of the minor ‘task’ quests. We keep seeing a big red X on the map at the vendor location and we’re not really sure what specifically has gone wrong, but there you go. Obviously, the potential for good looking graphics is greater on the PC, and with my modestly awesome rig I’ve been getting some really nice visuals. Apologies for everyone looking for a technical breakdown in terms of FPS and stuff like that – not my area of expertise.

We’ve found that Reckoning works quite well with a gamepad on the PC, despite being an RPG: Consumables especially we found weren’t used as often as we thought, and the important ones are handily mapped to the d-pad, whilst others can be assigned to a radial menu that’s also relatively easy to call up. Given the simple tap-tap nature of combat as well, a gamepad suits the style of gameplay especially well. Still, we find combat in general a little stiff and the combo system could have been implemented better. Fable III, for example, really nailed the fluid combat mechanics down to a T (despite its other issues), and there’s a lot to be said for flashy finishers, something that Amalur lacks aside from Reckoning mode, which is really best saved for bosses and tough fights anyway (considering it takes a while to charge up).

Reckoning is definitely a narrative driven game (especially when you think about who wrote the narrative) – the only problem we’ve found so far is that it takes a while for the narrative to really get going. At twenty hours we still hadn’t done much of the main quest as we’d been thoroughly clearing out every zone on the way to the next main quest checkpoint (which involved us doing a lot of side quests along the way). The side quests themselves also aren’t always that interesting, and usually involve you having to clear out a local menace followed by going to a nearby cave to clear out the person behind the local menace. Once you get past the first handful of starting areas though into other ‘zones’, things start to pick up and the quality of quests starts to get a better, especially main quests.
I'm the baws
Loot management is also a little cumbersome – not in the fact that there is loot, (it will be a sad day indeed when gamer’s stop wanting loot), but just in the fact that there’s so much of it. You’ll have to stop regularly to sift through the new weapons and armour, which 9/10 won’t be better than what you currently have on, so you’ll need to sell it so you have room for yet more loot. As you’ll know there’s also three types of crafting in the game as well, which with a whole host of components that you can farm from the game world (and even though they don’t take up much space, there’s still a lot of it to contend with). Still, it’s not all bad – finding and collecting pieces of sets is still fun, and there’s something satisfying about having a complete set.

Crafting weapons especially is an odd experience, as it’s fundamentally different from how its usually done. Instead of collecting ore and materials, you have to get components, which you only really seem to get from salvaging other weapons, or buying from vendors. Now, also considering the quality of weapons you can salvage is limited by your skill, it means that you rarely are able to make something that is better than what you can find. That is, if you’re not investing heavily in blacksmithing early on – if you do specialise early then great for you, but it also means you’re missing out on a bunch of other skills that we would argue are infinitely more useful.

A note has to be spared for Origin – as this particular code we were given was tied to EA’s proprietary service. It’s not overly bad although we do still remain to be convinced – integration between game and service is a little bit poor on the DLC side of things (quite a few more hoops to jump through than Steam, and especially consoles). Thankfully though, if Origin isn’t your cup of tea then the game is also available on Steam; since Big Huge Games and 38 Studios are partners as opposed to owned by EA, they’re not as restricted as what platforms they are allowed to sell on.
"Hey Steve, look, it's R.A. Salvatore!" "WHERE!?" *Opens eyes*

So, not a hell of a lot of difference between the two versions aside from what we’ve mentioned already. Really, it’s down to what you really feel like playing it on: if you’re not too fussed about the visuals, then a console version may be a good shout as you’ll get the added bonus of easy-to-access DLC and of course, achievements/trophies. There’s a lot to said for visuals these days though, and having played the PC version extensively we’re not sure we could then go to the console with a neutral mind-set. Swings and Roundabouts, as they say, but Reckoning is a good game all round and well worth getting – no matter the platform.

Best Game Moment: Some of the later-game set pieces are quite fun to play through.