Is Kingdoms of Amalur: The Reckoning a matured Fable?

From the first announcements to the first videos, Rabidgames has wondered about this question. Now, the demo of Kingdoms of Amalur: The Reckoning (hence known as KOAR) has given us the opportunity to seek answers and see what the fuss is all about.

The beginning is original, that’s for sure. You are dead. A corpse. Hopefully, you can experience your own demise in the full version of KOAR … Anyways, after you are reborn, you have to fight your way out of the tutorial dungeon which is overrun by the enemies (don’t worry, Rabidgames won’t spoil the story).

The first thing you’ll realise when wielding swords, bows or magic is the following: Yes, KOAR definitely feels like Fable. It totally does. And yes, it feels like grown-up and more challenging Fable. Hell, you can even die! Next thing you see – there are a shitload of moves to learn and master. Let’s say you like swords. Pressing attack two times means two slashes, attack, pause, attack is another attack, dodging or blocking lead to more attacks and so on. They have different effects, too (from area attacks to uppercuts). Even more, different weapons have different effects. Bows are good for long-distance fights (thank you, Mr. Obvious), daggers for stealth kills and magic kills enemies really fast … a bit too fast, actually – but you’ll run out of mana quickly, too.

The fighting system is by no means original, but it is fun and fast-paced. But it is really easy and repetitive … we’ll see if it can entertain Rabidgames for 50 hours or more … Sadly, there are also too many wretched quick time events in the demo: if you press a  button repeatedly in special occasions, you’ll get more experience. Lame.

Levelling up works in 3 different ways: First, you choose from mostly non-fighting skills like blacksmithing, alchemy, defusing magical traps or stealth (each category has 10 slots to unlock). Second, you put points directly into your abilities (unfortunately, they are all common), which are divided into your 3 RPG stereotypes: warrior, thief and mage. Lastly, you choose a “destiny card” which grants you special powers. To unlock some, you must have invested in certain abilities first. These are the most interesting ones – and hopefully, you can unlock special cards by completing special missions or killing hard monsters in KOAR.

But the KOAR demo really starts after you escaped the tutorial dungeon. You’re in an “open” world and can it explore pretty freely – within 45 minutes! By the way – when you have completed the tutorial once, you can skip if you want to play the demo again later. Good move there, EA.

Here, the game really starts to shine: You can talk to people (about many topics), accept several quests and explore the world. You can also start blacksmithing weapons or tinkering around with alchemy. Alternatively, you can start stealing stuff if that’s what you like. KOAR is not really an open world game though – you clearly follow linear paths, but there are many distractions if you leave the main roads. The world map looks pretty big, too.

In terms of content, the demo of KOAR promises tons of fun. The gameplay is hardly original (except the destiny cards, we’ve seen it all before) and repetitive button mashing could become a pain in the ass in the course of KOAR. The art design is pretty much generic and reminds Rabidgames of – you know it – Fable. The story seems one tale of “us hopeless bastards against the mighty evil enemies”. Let’s hope there’s more to it. The demo often hints to the possibility of “changing fate”. Hopefully, KOAR does the job of changing the game world better than most RPG games have so far.

For obvious PR reasons, starting the demo gives you some goodies to use in KOAR – and one that can be used in Bioware’s and EA’s Mass Effect 3. Completing the demo grants you an alleged super duper special weapon in Mass Effect 3 … while these bonuses are by all means better than the “preorder bonus x from shop y only” scam (although KOAR is guilty of this fucking disease as well), it’s still some lame PR stunt to motivate people to rush through the tutorial level and then simply leave your 360 on for another 45 minutes … what an achievement! Focus on your games, guys.

Rabidgames says: Judging from the demo, KOAR is one of those games you’ve seen before and you’ve played before – but it still is fun to play. If the fighting does not turn into button mashing and if the story is good KOAR could become one of the first hits in 2012. Let’s just hope it won’t follow its brother Fable in the promises department!


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