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Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Review

Brad Gallaway's picture

Busywork: The Game

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Screenshot

HIGH The fast-paced, flexible combat system and final boss.

LOW The mind-numbing, endless repetition.

WTF Is every daughter in the kingdom in some sort of peril?

Back when I was a teenager living at home, there were several summers when I was out of school and had nothing to do for weeks at a time. If I wasn't fishing or exploring the woods, my brother and I would play Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs) until the sun went down, or we'd organize all-day Street Fighter tournaments with neighborhood kids to pass time.

During that point in my life, if someone had offered me a game that I could play straight through for hundreds of hours, I'd have jumped at the chance, regardless of quality. Now that I'm older, free time isn't something I have in excess. These days, I crave titles that deliver rich experiences without a lot of pointless filler. As such, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is essentially the opposite of what I define as quality entertainment.

An open-world third-person RPG, Amalur starts off promisingly enough; after the player is invited to create a character, this avatar promptly comes back to life atop a pile of corpses. If nothing else, it caught my attention. The introductory level then quickly walks through the tutorials and does a good job showing off what is undoubtedly Amalur's best feature: the combat. Immediately after these tutorials, Amalur lapses into a coma-inducing cycle of tedium from which it does not recover.

Giving credit where credit is due, the combat is exciting and well-constructed. The player has the choice between magic-user, thief/assassin or fighter classes (or any mix of all three) and a wide range of weapons to be employed freely. Huge swords, fire-spitting staves, deadly daggers and more... taking on enemies is fast and flowing, and it's a simple thing to go from hammer strike to poison arrow to lightning bolt. Action fans will find much to enjoy here, although players used to the slower nature of most RPGs may find themselves overwhelmed in some of the tougher skirmishes.

Apart from this real-time combat, there is little to praise.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Screenshot

Structurally, Amalur is an MMO without the multiplayer or the online. While the game is technically "open world," it's just a series of empty-feeling areas dotted with enemy mobs, treasure chests, and quest-givers. Expect to spend a large amount of time simply crossing these bland landscapes until a good number of fast-travel points are unlocked, and put aside any notions of any detailed exploration, puzzles or environmental storytelling. Amalur's never heard of any of these things.

In terms of character and plot, Amalur is one of the most egregious examples of telling and not showing that I've come across in quite some time. The game takes delight in taking massive info-dumps all over the player—absurd amounts of wordy, useless lore and generic, oddly-spelled fantasy names that can't be remembered a moment after being heard—and cut-scenes never put the player in any situation more exciting than chatting with an NPC about their lost book or that bandit in the hills. There's no chance in hell of mental engagement or emotional connection.

As an example of how unmemorable "role playing" side of Amalur is, I can't name a single character or explain the story even after finishing the game. There was a lot of rubbish about fate and destiny that's never backed up, and a certain old man and a vaguely evil woman in a skimpy outfit kept making appearances, but I've no idea where the plot was going or who they really were—and it doesn't matter, since nothing I did had any weight or meaning. There was no perceivable effect on the world despite doing my best to "hero up," and play never evolved past checking cookie-cutter quests off a list. Accept boring task from person with an exclamation point above their head, fetch their item or kill their monster, and then return for reward. Repeat until unconscious, and constantly wonder what the point is.

While running this infinite hamster wheel of "pifflequests", the game plods on and on while throwing monstrous amounts of loot at the player—so much so, that rather than each new sword or helmet being something to examine and celebrate, constantly clearing the inventory and selling useless items becomes a job in itself. I firmly believe there is such a thing as too much loot, and I didn't appreciate how much time I spent in menus shuffling things around before making yet another run to the nearest shop because my inventory was full. Again. I must have spent at least a third of my playtime sifting through ever-increasing amounts of stuff, and that's far too much.

While it's great to see a developer take a new (and very welcome) approach to spicing up combat in an RPG, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is purely mechanical where the soul and inspiration should be. Players who can content themselves with massive amounts of loot and an endless series of simpleminded errands may be in heaven, but RPG players craving depth and the ability to make real choices or play a role will be out of luck. It might be a great game if the goal is to kill hundreds of hours of free time, but Amalur doesn't have much to offer otherwise. Rating: 5.0 out of 10.

Disclosures: This game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the Xbox 360. Approximately 14 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game contains blood and gore, intense violence, and suggestive themes. Although the game seems to be one to watch out for, I can't say that I found it especially brutal or bloody. The graphics have a vaguely cartoonish look to them, and the violence isn't especially visceral. The suggestive themes are probably due to skimpy clothing on some NPCs... I wouldn't give this to my kids to play, but I wouldn't jump up to turn the TV off if they came into the room, either.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing: You shouldn't have any concerns. Subtitles are available for all dialogue, and sound plays no role so long as a few points are put into the skill which makes enemies visible on the minimap. I found no auditory barriers to gameplay.

Category Tags
Platform(s): Xbox 360   PS3   PC  
Developer(s): Big Huge Games   38 Studios  
Publisher: Electronic Arts  
Series: Kingdoms of Amalur  
Genre(s): Role-Playing  
ESRB Rating: Mature (17+)  
Articles: Game Reviews  

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Did you actually...

beat the game in 14 hours? That is surprisingly short from what I've been reading around the web. And no, this is not one of those comments criticizing a review for not playing a game for 100 hours. I'm just trying to make an informed decision. Can you speak a little to how you devoted those 14 hours? For example, 50% main quest/ 50% side missions? Or some other mix? You've already established one third of that time was spent dealing with loot, so is there really only 9 hours of actual meat here?

Thanks

It was about 1-2 hrs of

It was about 1-2 hrs of sidequesting, and the rest was critical path.

Once i realized how bad the writing was and how little the story/quests mattered, i just went straight for the end. there's like INFINITE play if you do all the quests, though... I just didn't find them interesting at all.

Sounds like yet another

Sounds like yet another soulless fantasy RPG. Coming off of last year's Dragon Age 2/Skyrim double-whammy of dullness, we seem to be forming a pattern. Here's hoping Witcher 2 on Xbox 360 restores the sub-genre.

Nice review, B!

Ha! I knew I'd see Skyrim

Ha! I knew I'd see Skyrim getting mentioned at some point. LOL. It keeps being compared to this title (for whatever reason). Personally,(as some of you know! LOL!)I Loved it. But, hey. Everyone won't.

Anyway......From the general consensus (including this review) this game seems be standard RPG fodder. Combat seems to be the main attraction.

I'll wait till it hits the bargain-bin.

Review

@Eric Bowman: I agree with you on DAII and Skyrim. We now apparently have the trifecta of soulless, lifeless RPGs with the arrival of "Reckoning". I actually downloaded the demo twice because I was so sure that the first time I played, I just wasn't giving it a fair shake and I really wanted to like this game (I've been keeping track of it ever since I first heard about "Copernicus" two years ago).

After I played the demo the second time, I realized that: 1) there was no way I could force myself to like this game because 2) it really was incredibly dull and forgettable. To me, the NPCs seemed like nothing more than walking repositories of exposition and none of their reactions rang psychologically true. The dark elf at the Hall of Something or Other tells you that you have no place there because there's a contest starting soon for and elf to become something or other. When you tell him that not only are you not leaving but that you want to compete in their culturally sacred rite, he essentially shrugs and says, "Mmm, okay. Have at it."

WTF?

Anyway, thanks, Brad for confirming for me that I'd be wasting sixty bucks if I picked up this game.

IMHO, labeling a game

IMHO, labeling a game "soulless" or "lifeless" overshadows even a horrifyingly bug ridden experience. Since what good is a game if it can not manage to engage the gamer in any respect? Bugs can, in some respects, be fixed. Lifelessness? Fraid not.

I think Brad's score perfectly reflects that.

I felt Skyrim's level of detail---in regards to the structuring of the world itself--overshadowed much of its failings in regards to a plot that could be affected by player ambitions.

By contrast, Witcher 2 (which I just finished recently), while offering such complex choices, felt constrained in many respects. IMHO, there weren't enough quests (particularly later on in the game) and I was forced to participate in a political struggle that vaguely held my interest. I wanted to see the world, abscond from coerced story telling and simply wander off. As silly as that may seem.

I think I had one item (a silver sword) constructed during the whole experience, and barely even bothered with potions. I just threw random runes into swords and used whet stones. Contrary to Richard's experience, I found the game to be a breeze on normal difficulty after I got past the fight with Letho (spoilers?) in the eleven baths. Quen spam and improving my dodge ability was all that was needed.

Not to say I didn't enjoy the Witcher 2. Cause I did.

Whereas in Skyrim, I'm enjoying just doing whatever I damn please. If I feel like breaking in someones house, I can do that. Fight with the guards? Check. Murder my companions at a whim? Check. Go swimming in some random lack while nabbing fish? Check. Be a master blacksmith who shoots flames out his hand? Check.

I look forward to the day when The Elder Scrolls series offers a Fallout: NV experience in terms of choice making.

Regardless, I still love it! Just as I love having these discussions here. As I keep stating, it's nice to see different perspectives.

Curious

Two things first up: firstly it really is a pleasure to know that particular reviewers will always measure games to an exacting standard. The rate at which brilliant review scores are handed out at present is concerning, but that's a separate discussion. Secondly, I haven't played Amalur as yet, including the demo, though I do still have it on preorder. Thus, my comments naturally can only be taken with a pinch of salt, and I'll be the first to admit that my opinion of the game may match yours come the weekend.

So I'm not questioning the score you attribute the game; rather, I'm interested in the mental process that lead to that score. I know how important the story component of a game are for you, especially when it comes to the peripherals, or at least in the context of an rpg, such as TWII and Fallout NV. But in terms of the process of your review, how much weight do you afford storyline?

Of course, it's dependent on the nature of the game; one wouldn't be as harsh on an 8 hour FPS as one would an rpg that's supposed to hold your attention for dozens of hours, but surely in such a game, the gameplay needs to hold the attention as much as the story? Take TWII, as an example (which I did enjoy); whilst the side quests may have been interesting and unique, the core story was completely forgettable, the combat became mundane and the skill/abilities trees weren't particularly well thought out. It's a point of debate, but one could say more than half of the components were decidedly average. I suppose it's a testament to the better components that the game still managed to draw us both in, but nevertheless.

Yes, it's a subjective issue and each reviewer takes a different approach, but having played through the game in 14 hours, when easily 95% of the reviews I've read thus far have all said the main campaign is at least 20 hours long and you've admitted you did the bare minimum of side quests, is it fair to pass judgement on the nature of those side quests? The world didn't capture you, fair enough and valid comment, but I do find myself questioning whether your review, on this rare occasion, is being fair.

I suppose that's precisely why you guys do a second look, and it's nice to see that, unlike many other sites, Skyrim is being held accountable for the same faults that Amalur is. There was an initial point to this comment, but it's gotten lost along the way. Oh well, no one ever said a comment always needed to make a point.

Hmmm.

Only 14 hours in...just played the main quest as fast as humanly possible...I wonder why he didn't enjoy it?? It's a mystery to me.

I've played now for about 5 hours and am beyond hooked. I've completed two side quests, both of which I was absolutely enthralled with, and have no doubt that this game is going to be a dear favorite of mine. No it isn't the kind of game you can breeze through so you can pump out a review. If you do that you aren't playing the game as it was intended to be played.

What a silly review.

Boring as a jar of paste

>>No it isn't the kind of game you can breeze through so you can pump out a review. If you do that you aren't playing the game as it was intended to be played.

>>What a silly review.

"Intended to be played"? And pray tell, how is that?

Sorry my friend, you're looking at it backwards. Instead, turn it around... Ask why the game wasn't able to sustain interest for a longer period? Why did I (the writer) feel no pull to see more and do more?

We're under no compulsion for a day-one review, and there's no time pressure. I could have taken 200 hours to play if that was desired. No, the bottom line is that I found the game as boring as a jar of paste, and it was a relief to be done with it.

Simple as that.

The demo bored me to tears.

Great review. Although I have only played the demo, your review highlights many of the same feelings of "busy work" that I was getting. Thank you for your honest insight on yet another over-hyped game.

A few questions about your logic...

My question to you is at what point is a game suppose to be enjoyable? Five hours? Twenty or thirty hours? If the games pulls in a player in, players will naturally play longer and take care in exploring every aspect of the game, correct? So if a game feels like busy work and is boring, who in their right mind would think: "this game will get better in five to ten more hours." When you do not like a game, do keep playing and exploring everything or do you shoot straight for the finish line? This is dragging on, but my point is that playing a game you dislike longer is not going to change your opinion of it. Even if there is better content in the side quest or 20 hours into a game, why should the player have to waste his or her time getting to it?

14 hours?

The main story line is suppose to be 50 hours, how did you manage to beat it in 14 hours when the other outlets were unable to do so? Sounds fishy, no wonder it's got a bad review, probably didn't finish the game. At least you were honest about the hours invested though.

Well, one of the first ads

Well, one of the first ads of Kingdoms of Amalur said something like "the first real contender to The Elder Scrolls Throne" and it as last year, so I think this makes the game somewhat susceptible to Skyrim related critics.

Just to clarify: the game

Just to clarify: the game WAS finished before I wrote the review.

Another clarification: the critical path is *nowhere* near 40-50 hours. Not even close.

If you do every quest in the game I could imagine Amalur lasting over 100 hours, easily. If you do the CRITICAL PATH, it's closer to 10-12.

Don't believe me? Check my Achievements. Proof's right there.

Score

Sorry to go off topic for a moment, but this has been bothering me for a while, and I'm just going to ask at the risk of being called an idiot, but... where can I find the score!?

I mean, I always thought that Gamecritics did not give numerical scores to reviews, but occasionally someone will mention a score even though, try as I might, I cannot find one on screen.
I've tried reading on IE and Google Chrome but it makes no difference.

So, uh, can anyone tell me where the score is and/or what I should do to view it?

Finishing a game before

Finishing a game before reviewing it is not a vital requirement for a good review. Not being interested enough to finish a game is telling in and of itself.

Even if he did not finish it, he would have a good explanation. He's an adult now and doesn't have time to spend on mindless stereotypical busy-work quests. As I grow older, I find myself feeling the same way, so the review is helpful in finding out if the game is worth my increasingly scarce time.

During the summer vacations of my youth I was able to collect all the stupid crap in every game out there, multiple times. There's no such thing as summer vacation anymore.

The most grave sin any developer/publisher can make today is believe that the time of their customers is worthless. As video game players grow older, this will become an increasingly important issue.

How long is too long

@Bondage12

Not to sidetrack the comments on the review, but just wanted to respond to this particular question, as it's something I'm seeing thrown around a lot lately.

My question to you would be, do you expect every other form of entertainment in your life to deliver the punch first up, or it's not worth your time? If I'd put down every novel that didn't grip me in the first 100 pages, switched off every movie that didn't have my rapt attention in the first 30 minutes, thrown out every album that just seemed kind of mediocre after the first listen, I'd have given up on many books, movies and albums that are now some of my most favourite. Why should gaming be any different?

It's still an investment of time and money, as is any other form of entertainment, why is it being treated differently? How many gave up on Heavy Rain because the first hour was boring and mundane? I've put 80 hours into the much maligned FFXIII, the worst of which were those dreaded first 20. That's still 60 hours of awesome.

I'm not questioning Brad's review in this instance, especially since I don't think it's a question of holding his interest as it is the game not offering him a soul, as such. Though I have heard Brad before asking how many hours one should wait for the game to 'get good'. Which, no offense Brad, is a bit of a misleading question that misses the point. How many times should you listen to an album before it gets good? Once? Twice?

It's totally subjective, of course. And if your own answer to that question is 'once', that's fine. Just don't dismiss the notion that not all great things reveal their greatness up front.

Seriously, just stop.

Brad, you clearly aren't much of an open world fan (unless it is called fallout), and that is fine. But please stop reviewing them. In fact, it sounds like you should stop playing them altogether.

The genre is not for you.

5.0?????

Anonymous wrote:

Brad, you clearly aren't much of an open world fan (unless it is called fallout), and that is fine. But please stop reviewing them. In fact, it sounds like you should stop playing them altogether.

The genre is not for you.

This seems like the case. The game is getting great reviews from numerous other reviewers. It actually is averaging around an 85%......and yet this reviewer decided it was basically an F or 50%. That is kind of a ridiculous score in my opinion. I've played it and really enjoy it. This guy is probably one of those guys that has to give a negative review to try and stand out......FAIL.

Stare at the text like it's

Stare at the text like it's a Magic Eye and it should pop right out at you.

I kid, I kid. Highlight the last sentence of the review like you're going to copy/paste it then go a little bit farther.

Understanding our rating scale

Anonymous wrote:

This seems like the case. The game is getting great reviews from numerous other reviewers. It actually is averaging around an 85%......and yet this reviewer decided it was basically an F or 50%. That is kind of a ridiculous score in my opinion. I've played it and really enjoy it. This guy is probably one of those guys that has to give a negative review to try and stand out......FAIL.

I don't understand why this has become the case with ratings and young people's perception of said ratings, but to clarify:

However you are used to grades on your tests or classes in school, does not apply here. Our rating system is not based on the most commonly used academic scoring systems of A,B,C,D,F or GPA. It is based on a 0-10 scale with 0 being the lowest (an abject failure) and 10 being as good as a game can be. Therefore a 5.0 is not an F or a Fail, it's a 5.0 out of 10 or "Average".

Brad found Kingdoms of Amalur to be an average game, nothing special, nothing stood out. It's funny that people are hung up on two numbers: the 14 hours he played the game and the 5.0 rating. If you read the actual review you'll see that he doesn't hate the game, he just walked away less than impressed.

Big-named, over-advertsied

Big-named, over-advertsied EA published title turns out, typically, dull. Cue angry response when a reviewer who's not a moron reviews it properly.

I can imagine the 'Top Critics' section of a gaming version of Rotten Tomatoes would only consist of 3 people tops. So, so dire is this medium in regards to writing (both in games and media). Please please continue to write good reviews, Brad, and give us gamers whom aren't so easily swayed a reason to even bother with gaming media at all.

@forgottenmachineYou raise

@forgottenmachine

You raise some very good points and I completely agree with you. Entertainment with a slow start can result can still be a great overall experience. Just to clarify my post was directed at @nslickerough comment. So my point was to challenge his feeling that 14 hours was not enough time to fairly judge this game. So I was trying to broaden the question of what is a "fair" time sink requirement? 14 hours for many could be an entire weekend or two, and if that is considered to short to get a solid grasp of the experience then what is? As you said it is subjective, but the idea that you cannot give fair judgement after about 10-20 hours of game-play is crazy.

Anyway, back to your question, no I do not judge a game, or other entertainment on just a couple of hours/mins, but when I feel the game, movie, or book has shown me all it has to offer (which could range from 5hours-100hours). If I have enjoyed the experience it has given I will keep playing/reading/watching. If not, I will not force myself to play/read/watch entertainment hoping it gets better. Although to be fair watching a bad movie will not waste an entire weekend. Anyway, I hope that offered some clarification.

Forgot to point out my "cue

Forgot to point out my "cue angry response" comment was directed at the generic response Brad gets when he reviews a highly-anticipated game as mediocre (such as ones he highlighted as examples on Twitter), not the people who've commented on this review (which have been, by and large, positive (and rightly so)).

Anonymous wrote: Brad, you

Anonymous wrote:

Brad, you clearly aren't much of an open world fan (unless it is called fallout), and that is fine. But please stop reviewing them. In fact, it sounds like you should stop playing them altogether.

The genre is not for you.

His game of the year last year was Dead Island, an open world game. But please, don't let my "facts" disrupt your baseless generalizing. =)

So sad to see people

So sad to see people incapable of enjoying games because of scores; as if Brad's singular opinion is the end all in one's decision to play the game. If you disagree with Brad, than explain why. But to call the review ridiculous is a bit absurd. It's his opinion.

BTW, the game has been averaging an 80%, and number of reviewers/gamers share Brad's opinion.

And of course it got 9 out

And of course it got 9 out of 10, "Amazing", on IGN. Go figure.

Guys , just a little advice

Guys , just a little advice , get on gamerankings and search this game with an average of 8.7 of 10 and read a few other reviews.

Ive been longing for something since fable , to grind a skill tree , with visible enjoyable and upgradable satisfaction. Everything else I'll leave to skyrim ..

Cant wait !

I just think people need to

I just think people need to start being more discriminating in who they go to for reviews and such, I mean based on Brad's other opinions on open world RPGS he is the last person's opinion I would want to seek and that is just the reality of the situation. i know going in based on the precedent already formed by his previous reviews that I am probably not going to agree with him, so why even read it but out of curiosity and nothing more? Simply put when it comes to these types of games, he isn't a credible reviewer and hey that is ok, because there are other genres where I do usually are with him.

So if you don't like how he reviews certain games, well don't rely on his reviews for those type of games and find one you trust more. I mean personally I would give this game a 9.5, it is IMO a better game than Skyrim. If others disagree, cool beans, I don't need others to back up my personal opinion.

The reviewer over at IGN was

The reviewer over at IGN was essentially calling this the best modern RPG (better than Fallout 3, Mass Effect, Skyrim, Dark Souls, etc.) out right now.

Pure comedy.

Best I've played this gen

Googoo24 wrote:

The reviewer over at IGN was essentially calling this the best modern RPG (better than Fallout 3, Mass Effect, Skyrim, Dark Souls, etc.) out right now.

Pure comedy.

I agree with them, its the best one I have played this gen.

Credit goes to the writing

Anonymous wrote:
Googoo24 wrote:

The reviewer over at IGN was essentially calling this the best modern RPG (better than Fallout 3, Mass Effect, Skyrim, Dark Souls, etc.) out right now.

Pure comedy.

I agree with them, its the best one I have played this gen.

I agree as well. Unlike the reviewer, I have actually played more than what is necessary, and I find everything to be wonderful. The story is much better presented than DOA:2 in my opinion, and the quest variation isn't special but I have yet to do the same old stuff you always do. So far I have unraveled some really interesting things, and have witnessed some interesting narrative twists and turns. The game has constantly surprised me, not dulled me. Maybe we are playing different games.

The reviewer, of course, is entitled to their opinion and I respect it. I just think there is more credit to the writing and the lore than they are willing to admit. Regardless of whether or not you like it, there is a lot of deep, deep stuff in this world. You just have to care enough to discover it.

Some people don't. Their loss I say.

Well written review though.

Need others

Anonymous wrote:

So if you don't like how he reviews certain games, well don't rely on his reviews for those type of games and find one you trust more. I mean personally I would give this game a 9.5, it is IMO a better game than Skyrim. If others disagree, cool beans, I don't need others to back up my personal opinion.

If you don't need others to back your personal opinion, why are you labeling Brad a non-credible reviewer?

That, IMHO, makes no sense. You even suggest that people should find reviewers that bolster their own (set in stone) opinion of the game.

No score showing

Like it the someone mentioned above, for whatever reason, scores do not show up for me either. And you know what? I really don't care. I come on here for the excellent writing, not to look at a number. A good reviewer, like Brad is, makes the number irrelevant. Everything you want to know about what he thought about the game is in the review, so I think any misgivings about the scoring scale are missing the point a little. If there should be any criticism towards Brad it should be directed to his writing. I however think it is irreproachable. I am so very tired of this metacritc culture. It is causing alot more harm than good, writing and critical thought is falling by the wayside in gaming journalism. You can beleive the inflated IGN scores as much as you wish, because with this site I may not always agree with judgements on games but I sure as hell trust them.
Gareth

Brad's 2008 GOTY : Fallout

Brad's 2008 GOTY : Fallout 3, an open world game
Brad's 2010 GOTY : Deadly Premonition, an open world game
Brad's 2011 GOTY : Dead Island, an open world game

...clearly Brad doesn't like open world games, and has an agenda against America's greatest genre. You guys should try to make peace with the fact that not every one loves every game you love. This site is one of the only game site where reviewers gives their own opinion according to their personal taste and not the "expected consensus about what gamers are supposed to like". And, believe it or not, some of us actually come here for exactly that.

I think what the Anonymous

I think what the Anonymous poster is saying is we should give more weight to reviewers who like the same games we do. I wouldn't weight a review from a sports-game fanatic as much as one from someone who loved Dark Souls as much as I did.

Brad reviewed Ninja Blade more favorably than Mass Effect 2 so, for me, I don't read his reviews to help with a purchase decision as much as for the spectacle his words seem to create.

Actually, if you read what

Actually, if you read what he has been saying, he says based on Brad's history of rating on Open world games, he isn't credible towards that specific idea. Its not an attack on his over all credibility. Also, he was saying you should go to a reviewer who seems to rate open world games on a greater parameter, not go to a reviewer that is agreeable to your opinion.

Rule one for buying games based on reviews is to read multiple reviews anyways isn't it? When you base your purchase off of one person's review, are you not letting them dictate what you play? Unless you and the reviewer have, on every instance, agreed perfectly, you cannot say for sure that a game he didn't enjoy is something you wouldn't enjoy.

I also find it disappointing when people attack reviews that are well written. Brad made his case. The average over all rating for this game isn't bad at all, above average even, but to Brad, this game was a game that he'd probably rather not put back in his system.

As a final note, everyone has an opinion. I like a large number of games. I can tell you I have found enjoyment of one kind or another in games with grand arching stories and a slow, dull pace. Frantic action with little story. Loot frenzy games that constantly have you selling off your excess crap, and games that should very well have been movies. And I can say the same about books, and movies. Just because I say you should read R.A. Salvatore's novels because I like them and they are rated well doesn't mean you should. Or, if that wasn't the best reference for pop-culture, how about the Twilight novels? I hate them, but I know a great number of people who love them, and they are critically acclaimed! Gonna go buy them because other people like it? Not going to buy them because other people hate them? I actually gave something I doubted I would like a shot, and with Twilight, I was right, terrible. With other things, including games, I was wrong. Everyone should just relax and enjoy, and if you are not sure, there is rental, or borrowing from a friend. (If those are not options, I doubt you will be buying the game soon anyways.)

WHY?

Your review is mostly spot on. So why am I enjoying playing the game. Well the fighting is top rate. The weapon use, and the freedom in the combat play is what makes the game. The rest is somewhat good filler. There are so many opportunity's for combat that sometimes I run from it in order to just get the quest over. I do the quests mainly to find chests or hidden loot with stronger weapons. I do not know the replay value yet, but I have a feeling this will be a trade in when I am completely done with the game. The game has a cartoon like quality with wooden faced characters, yet it seems artsy in a way. Like the sort you would see in magazines of that type. In my opinion, if you like "one on one" fighting with light RPG then this game is a good choice. I like Rage for the same reason. For RPG? well Skyrim, Fallout, or a host of others would be better. Just saying.

You know, I find it funny

You know, I find it funny that a lot of reviewers are claiming this game is derivative and "boring," but that it's good because there are a "lot of things to do."

Is that all it takes these days? Throw a bunch of crap in it, and it's automatically a good game?

Even worse is the attempt by some of this game's *cough* "fans" to make it better than Skyrim. Seriously, every where I go there is some ridiculous comparison to Skyrim (with Skyrim typically being labeled crap). Like it's mandatory this game be better than Skyrim in order to be a recommended purchase.

Have we gamers always been such a laughably self-conscious bunch?

A more educated opinion

As I mentioned if my first comment, I hadn't yet played Amalur. That situation has since changed, and I now have 24 hours of playtime under my belt (of the Frost Giant), and judging by the fact that I've only recently ventured beyond the borders of the first area, I have dozens yet to put in.

Brad didn't like the game, and that's perfectly reasonable. It didn't grab him in the first few hours, and I'd even be so bold as to see he'll admit he auto-piloted through to the conclusion. And again, I take no issue with that. Out of interest, what level was your character when you finished?

What I'll say though, and granted this is as much the fault of the manner in which the game was marketed as it is anything else, I think Brad's framework for reviewing the game was a little off. And by that I mean, forget Skyrim and Fallout and Fable and every other RPG Amalur has been compared to, this game is actually a Titan Quest hack 'n slash. Understanding that means developing expectations more in line with what the game truly is, and therefore reviewing the game as such. I'd be interested in Brad's comments as to whether he thinks his review may have read very differently if he'd approached it from that perspective.

Further to that, having spent significantly more time with the game, I'd respectfully claim that some of Brad's criticisms are simply not accurate.

"There was no perceivable effect on the world despite doing my best to "hero up," "

Simply not true. Had you followed and completed the House of Ballads faction quest, you'd know you can't truly make that claim. Even one of the side quests involves rescuing a village from a plague of spiders, and once completed the entire village acknowledges what you've accomplished and act accordingly. Those are just two example, many more exist.

You talk about 'useless lore'. Can you perhaps qualify that? Useless because you found it boring?

Too much loot? Again, viewing the game as a hack 'n slash, this isn't really a valid complaint. The game makes it easy enough for you to tell the value of an item before you add it to your inventory, so if you were so concerned about having to clear your inventory our, why pick up everything? And even more telling, the game gives you two options for getting rid of loot on the fly that are of benefit (you can salvage weapons or destroy them for a small boost in gold), making inventory management a pleasure. As for the loot itself, as one example, making use of my detect hidden skill I found a hidden door that led to a picturesque little island, which in turn housed an epic item of armour that had me punching the air in delight. Subjective, I'll admit, but these are the instances that become more apparent the further one plays.

I'll leave it at that, hesitant to make this comment any longer, but it's my humble opinion that you dropped the ball, so to speak, on this one. I'm not saying you should give it a second chance, as I said it wasn't your cup of tea and that's just fine. But as a games journalist, surely you have a responsibility toward the games that you review? You're not given the comfort of simply hiding behind 'it's just my opinion'. As readers, all we really want is a consistency in approach, and when a game like TWII can get a positive response, when essentially the only aspect that it does better than Amalur is side questing, and is guilty of almost every other criticism you've listed above, are we getting consistency?

I'd honestly appreciate a genuine response, which I know is the only response Brad gives, but just for other commenters who may insinuate I'm butt-hurt, as if it's not possible for two people to have a decent discussion from opposing sides.

Two Perspectives

forgottenmachine.....I agree with your perspective more than Brads due to the fact you are actually playing the game as it was meant to be played. Brad missed a lot of what was happening by skimming through it. Brad seemed to be reviewing Amular from only a RPG perspective, which limited his review critique somewhat. By the way, you are spot on that the player does effect the world. Maybe not in a loud, in your face sort of way. But since I am making up my own fate as I go along. The effect is more subtle...so far.

As an example I made a mistake in choice that caused a couple of farmers that I was helping in a side quest die. They have not come back and the farm house is still abandoned. As for the spider village. If I did not save that village from the spiders, I would not have received the very helpful reward that was given to me, and the villagers still thank me for saving them. Does everything have to tie in to the games main quest? I don't think so. The character I play in the game does effect the games surroundings. I am calling this game a Hack N Slash RPG. I'm still playing the game, and I am still enjoying it.

Game reviewers giving scores

Game reviewers giving scores less than 7? That's the most terrible thing I've ever seen! Is that even possible? Until now I wasn't aware of a number smaller than 7.

If user comment sections disappeared in their entirety from the internet, the internet would be a better place. Great review. Btw, I love Skyrim. And somehow I can contain the boiling rage I feel from seeing that others do not.

Totally Agree

This is probably the most accurate review I've seen, by which I mean it matches my experience totally. I love R.A. Salvatores books so had been waiting for the game with a lot of hope.
I played the demo, which I found to be very Meh! To quote Bart Simpson, then I played the real game which was slightly better but not much, the combat's well done, skill progression also but has been done the same way in countless games.
The quests are generic, repetitive and boring, the graphics look out of date, I don't like the boxed in feeling, I don't like being stuck to the floor (not even able to jump small ledges) Argh! So frustrating, anyway, I've done about 10 hours, I give up. I'm not going back to it. I'd give it 4/10.

I'm almost 25 hours in and

I'm almost 25 hours in and am fairly close to finishing the first section (can't remember what it's called, but its the first area, all forests and such). I did all the side missions thus far and everything he's said is spot on. I'm actually review searching now in the hopes that it gets better...but I'm not finding much hope.

The combat is pretty cool, but if you take the time to do all the side missions, you rapidly outlevel everything (except in certain instances where the mobs are always your level-ish) and the cool combat ultimately becomes a chore. At that point, leveling in the ability trees is moot. The powers don't do anything that your main weapon wasn't already doing in abundance. After 25 hours, seeing the side quests in so many lifeless, repetitive areas, I'm struggling to find a reason to keep going. I don't know how to describe it - the RPG lover in me thinks about the game when I'm not playing it, but the moment I sit down to play, the thrill vanishes in about 15 minutes. Rinse and repeat for the next day. And the next.

One final comment - too much of the game is ruled by mechanics. For example - playing a rogue, backstabbing creatures is a lot of fun. But towards the beginning, you rarely get in a position to backstab. And then you level high enough to get smokebomb, which lets you blind and stun everyone in an area, puts you and keeps you in stealth for about 6 seconds so you can get another backstab in (the cooldown on smokebomb is about 60 seconds) - but I was fighting a group of larger creatures, which are a blast to watch get successfully backstabbed, only to throw a smokebomb and then backstab all of them because all of them had their backs to me when the stun/blind wore off. Basically, they came out of the stun doing routine patrols, not looking for me. Lazy programming, imo.

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