“Kingdoms of Amalur”: The Review

Normally, if a game has a bad story, it’s a serious problem. And make no mistake, “Kingdoms of Amalur” has a bad story. Awful, actually. So awful, we just skipped the cutscenes because we don’t really care. Fate, destiny, whatevs, we’ve got stuff to do, let’s hurry this up and get back to the actual game. Daddy’s got 120 dungeons to visit.

This isn’t a review of the entire game because that would drop sometime next year. “Amalur” is huge, and that size pretty much makes up for all of its flaws, because, realistically, if you like to crawl dungeons, you’ll whittle away at this game for a long, long, time.

“Amalur” is flawed, in some respects. R.A. Salvatore showed up, wrote an idea that mostly makes fun of the whininess of NPCs, collected his paycheck, and left. The voice-acting is a great argument to not have voice acting. And the fast travel system is god-awful; if a quest marker is sitting on top of a location marker, start walking because you’ll never get there otherwise.

But it’s good in the core mechanics. The combat is heavily polished and has a “God of War” feel to it; regardless of whether you choose to be a mage, a warrior, or a rogue, fighting is easy to do and makes sense, although the auto-targeting can be a little wonky, so invest some skill points in melee. You can tweak your character at pretty much any time: if you decide you want to roll aggro, or be a backstabbing weasel for a while, it’s simple to reconfigure. Mixing and matching is also good: there’s no One True Build here, and besides, the game gives you enough points that you’ll be able to make your ideal character relatively quickly.

The dungeon design, meanwhile, is overall pretty solid. There’s nothing that rivals, say, Nintendo or Sony’s dungeon design, but they’re fun and you almost never find yourself blundering around lost, wondering where to go next.

As for the bugs, they’re there, but they’re barely noticeable: obviously Big Huge learned from that disastrous demo and fixed things quickly.

Is “Amalur” generic? Absolutely. If you’re looking for an earthshaking game, or something shockingly original, you’re not really going to find it here. What you are going to find, however, is a whole hell of a lot to do for your sixty bucks. If you like to crawl dungeons, this will keep you happy for a long, long time.

image courtesy Electronic Arts