Kingdoms of Amalur places you into a massive and beautifully constructed world. The player takes on the role of a hero who dies and becomes part of an experiment to put the soul back into the body, effectively bringing them back from the dead. Being the first success from this “Well of Souls,” the protagonist has escaped the stream of fate everyone is destined to follow and can choose his or her own destiny. There are those who know the impact this can have on the world and thus seek to destroy (or harness?) this power.
The player is introduced to the world of, you guessed it – Amalur. The world is immense, beautiful and original. Other games have creatures such as brownies and balors, but KoA gives a unique touch to their versions of these creatures with new looks and abilities. The Kingdoms of Amalur storyline leaves nothing wanting. It throws you right in, gets you involved in the action and keeps you there right until the very end. The features of the main story are impeccable in length; they don’t drag on for too long, nor are they too short to permit you to charge through them. Side quest contribution was a bit lacking. Taking time to help witless characters fix the predicaments they happily wandered into, over and over, got a bit tiresome. However, the adage of “a fool and their money are soon parted” is true. These side quests help fill the ever needing wallet and inventory.
Kingdoms of Amalur characters felt a little flat. This flatness pattern repeated itself while completing quests throughout the length of the game: NPC needs help, help NPC, and get a reward and/or thanks. There is very little interaction with the NPCs afterward. If they do have any backstory, they do not offer much of it. When it came to the NPCs and combat, the players’ henchmen often got stuck on walls, the game remedies this by making them “pop-up” after a certain distance between the player and henchman or leaving a dungeon/cave. The henchmen were also a bit underpowered, the main character could dispatch twenty enemies and the player’s partner would still be working on their first. They served more as a decoy than actual help.
The controls are laid out very logically (at least on the PS3). Everything from combat, to character interaction flowed easily, and you didn’t have to second guess which button performed which function. Any issues I did run into (which the only one was the throwing of spells while blocking which triggered reckoning mode) could be fixed by customizing the controls.
Everything from landscape to characters, to weapons, to armor, to spells is rendered in excellent detail. The game goes out of its way to provide eye candy for the player every step of the way. The camera was the only setback for the graphics. During combat, the camera would randomly set itself inside a wall blocking the ability to witness what is going on. Turning the camera itself would not always fix the issue. Assuming you weren’t being beaten to the ground, you would have to turn it in such a way that the camera would be forced into third-person perspective behind the character.
The gameplay flowed smoothly from start to finish. Tutorials provided all the information you needed, although the game could probably be figured out without them. I found dispelling containers to be my personal caveat; it could have been because I did not have a lot of points in dispelling. Combat was enjoyable and action-oriented. Dialogue proved to be the only shortcoming when it came to the gameplay. When in a dialogue scene with NPC’s, moving the thumbstick to the option you wish to select and then pressing the X button to confirm your selection would not advance the dialogue. Sometimes it would take three or four times to get the highlighted option to progress to the next section of dialogue. This slowed conversations down considerably.
Other than the camera and dialogue flaws, Kingdoms of Amalur was a pleasant experience. I immediately became enthralled and had a hard time putting the controller down. Despite the flat characters, the main characters more than made up for this lacking area. Combat was always action packed, never seemed slow and there was never too much, or too little. Bosses did seem a little too easy if you had a full reckoning bar available. I have no qualms about giving this game a great score.