Destinies

KoA Quick Review

Wednesday, February 8, 2012 | 01:06 PM | by

Kingdoms of Amalur is fun. It's not perfect, but it's fun. Here's the highlight reel.

I love the visual style. Some of the environments are downright stunning. A lot of the armor is really cool, and they have some awesome monsters.

The visual style is a little inconsistent though. Some creatures and people just don't look quite as fantastical. Actually, some of them are just ugly. I've seen six NPC's so far whose eyeballs just jitter around in their head, making them look crosseyed.

Combat is incredible. The ease with with you can combine combos and attack types is a real joy. Start with a dagger strike, juggle them into the air where you fire a couple of arrows at them, and finish them off with a huge magic spell. It's all so fluid and natural.

Character progression is inspired. You aren't locked to the typical rogue/warrior/wizard archetypes. Through the use of a talent tree, destiny cards and twist of fate cards you can build and customize your character just the way you want it, including in hybrid specializations of any of the three schools. You can be a rogue mage, a warrior wizard, a warrior rogue, or a combination of all three, and the cards are set up to make sure you're just as effective no matter what you want to do.

The voice acting so far is really good and really consistent. The lipsynching could be better, but for the most part talking to characters is enjoyable.

Your character doesn't say a word the entire game. That's a little tiresome these days. I'm of the school of thought that even Link should have learned to speak by now.

There's no jumping. In a world this huge and explorable, not being allowed to jump, and hitting so many abritrary invisible walls is pretty stifling. Instead we get really contrived "jump points" throughout the world. Kind of dumb.

For the most part, loading times are fairly quick. I did install the game onto my Xbox hard drive though, as the game recommends.

Fast travel is welcome here.

Lockpicking is fucking awful. It uses the same mechanic that Skyrim (and another dozen games) used, but Skyrim did it far better. Lockpicking in KoA, so far, just feels cheap and sloppy. In Skyrim I loved finding a locked chest, even one way above my skill level, and trying to gently find that sweet spot. In KoA if I see a locked chest my first thought is "Eh... there's probably nothing in there I can't live without" just because I don't want to deal with the minigame.

The inventory UI, while passable, isn't very exciting. The loot window as well, while functional, is incredibly boring. They do nothing to add style to the game, and are pretty generic.

Rogue sneak attacks are awesome! Actually all of the combat moves and spells are pretty rad. They look like something straight out of a comic book.

Item degredation is dumb. There's no real reason to have it in a game like this.

I still can't pull my camera back further. Bleh.

Looting harvestable items is fast. All you have to do is run by the item and click to harvest. No drawn out timer or harvesting animation. This is nice because there are SO MANY harvestables!

Also, sprinting is a nice touch. Rather than needing to hold down a button, you just tap A while moving to turn on sprint. You'll run faster as long as you keep moving.

Overall, a pretty engaging game so far. It could have been better, but there are also a lot of places where it really hit the mark, and where it really avoided falling into "generic RPG" status. I'm interested to see if they do any patching over the next few weeks to correct some of the more glaring issues, but all in all I'm happy with the game and I'm looking forward to playing it some more.