What can be said about this game that hasn't been said already? If you're wondering why I'm asking that, it is because it seems that Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning has taken some aspect from every single modern western RPG on the market. With elements from titles like The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, Bioware's Mass Effect and most obviously the Fable franchise it has to be the biggest copy-cat game I have ever played. Now that isn't to say it's all stolen because one of the good fellows over at Bethesda helped out with the development of this game. With Electronic Arts publishing both Mass Effect 3 and KoA: Recokining, it's only natural that they'd use some old tricks in the making of Reckoning.
The story of KoA: Reckoning is one you'd expect from any RPG. The Kingdom of Amalur has been in a decade-long war with an immortal race known as the Tuatha. Your character is the one being that can restore order to Amalur.
Your character has all of classic RPG hero elements. After being the only person ever to be fully revived through the device known as the Well of Souls, you have been given the ability to fully shift and change the fate of others in the world round you. Combined with massive muscles, fetching good looks and the ability to swing hammers the size of tree trunks as if they were short swords means your character is the perfect candidate to end a seemingly unwinnable conflict that has been plaguing the land for over 10 years.
Speaking of the land (which I should mention is freaking massive), Reckoning is a very pretty game. Bright, vibrant and colourful when outside and dark, eerie and creepy when you're dungeons. This means there is a good diversity in the feel of the environments making it easy to get lost in the game and forget you're even playing one. The terrain also features multiple geographical types ranging from dense, enchanted forests to open plains and rocky mountains. As for the graphics of everything else, they're fantastic. Although a bit cartoony, which compromises some realism, the game looks better and better the more you play it. At the beginning of the game, I found myself gawking at the seemingly simple graphics and textures. But by the time I played in a few more environments and progressed past the first game area, I found I was definitely wrong. Structures in the distance look amazing and the entire game has such a immersive fantasy look to it that makes you feel you're in a terrifically magical place.
The gameplay has Fable written all over it. Real time combat that allows you to hit multiple enemies with each swing harkens back to my Fable days on the original Xbox. Also, just like in the Fable games, the fighting is extremely fun. The satisfaction brought by staggering an opponent with a block and then unleashing a brutal onslaught of combo moves is almost unparalleled. The combat in general has to be one of the best points of the game. Reckoning also gives you the ability to choose your fighting style. Whether you want to be a brutal, hammer-swinging brute, a light-footed, ranged assassin or somewhere in the middle, Reckoning has you covered. One notable point is when wielding your shield, it seemingly appears out of nowhere. I personally didn't mind this but other gamers might be bugged by it.
Getting around the giant world is made easy via a fast-travel system but getting around without it is just as fun. In addition, so as not to let the player fast travel wherever they go, only major landmarks are able to be fast traveled to so the player has to do at least some of the travelling to their various destinations manually. This keeps the gameplay fresh and avoids numerous load screens brought on by fast-travelling literally everywhere which often-times happens in other RPGs.
Other "stolen" game elements are the conversation wheel which is a shipment straight out of Bioware's Mass Effect, but then again EA did do a lot to help with Mass Effect 2 and 3 so I guess they earned the right to have the famed conversation wheel in their arsenal. The lock picking system is a blatant knock-off from Bethesda's Fallout games and Elder Scrolls: Skyrim only not as good and way too easy, sometimes to the point where one questions why it's even the game to begin with.
As for the audio of the game, it is all well done. The music again screams Fable but it fits the atmosphere of the game 100 per cent. Voiceovers are well done and feature mostly authentic English accents. The footsteps aren't annoying like in some games and every "thwack" of your weapons against enemy bodies delivers the satisfaction of maiming your enemies.
The menus are clear and easy to navigate. The inventory screen consists of drop-down lists allowing you to hide the items you might not be using, making them more efficient. One thing that is improved in Reckoning over other RPGs is how the quests are separated in the quest menu. As everyone knows how easy it is to build up a seemingly endless list of quests that is practically impossible to navigate through, it's nice how Reckoning separates them into categories like "main," "side," "contracts," etc.
Overall, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a fantastic game. Before starting the game I figured it'd be another cookie-cutter, third-person RPG that I'd say was pretty good and worth checking out but is nothing really special. Boy was I wrong. It wasn't too long before the gaming addiction set in and with the almost unreal amount of quests, contracts and things to do in this game, your addiction will be fed for a while. Great combat, tons of things to do, awesome graphics and a fantastic world you can get lost in makes KoA: Reckoning an awesome game that I'd recommend buying if you're a fan of any RPG.
This review is based on a retail copy of the 360 version of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.