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Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning: First Big Release of 2012, or Disappointing Flop?

As of this moment, 2012 has not been very strong on the release front.  Most of the material released thus far has mainly been complementary to games that were released in 2011, but on February 7th, 2012, the very highly anticipated Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning comes out on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.  One thing about Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning that must be noted is that it has had quite a tumultuous life span, and has been in development for almost 6 years.  There is always a bit of a stigma with games that have long life spans (we’re looking at you Duke Nukem: Forever), but unlike the largely negative response to DN:F, Kingdoms of Amalur not only has a very interesting story and a ton of lore, but also has some very powerful names behind the development process. One of the main lore creators is RA Salvatore, who before Amalur has created the Forgotten Realms and DemonWars sagas, which have sold more than 15 million copies in the US alone.  Having such a big name as a lore creator really adds to the depth of the intrigue, but the names do not stop at the lore.  For those who have not played the demo that is now available on Playstation Network and Xbox Live, you should know that the artwork throughout the game has been headed by Todd McFarlane, the legendary comic book artist that created the popular Spawn franchise, and has done large amounts of work on The Amazing Spiderman.

While the game looks like it will do very well at launch, I recently downloaded the demo and played through it, just to see what the gameplay is like. 38 Studio’s (the developer) CEO Curt Shilling described it as a mash between God of War and Oblivion, but from what I have played, it seems to function in a similar way to the Fable series.  The core of the gameplay comes in the form of third person action-RPG, and (at least to me), it does a good job of delineating itself enough from Skyrim as to allow its own niche fan base to grow.  The problem that I had came in the fact that the demo that I played was extremely buggy.  I was not connected to the internet when I was playing the demo, yet occasionally my character would glitch and jump around the screen for seemingly no reason.  This wasn’t a huge problem, but it was just weird to see in this type of game. 

The real problem that I had, though, came about 15 minutes into the demo, when the music just randomly cut out, and the voice acting completely disappeared.  Much like something like Mass Effect, the voice acting allows you to skip it with the press of a button, which can allow for the text to go by faster.  At one point during my demo though, the voice acting just started scrolling through really fast, and the characters would not be saying any of their lines.  The lines would rush by at an unreadable pace until a dialog tree popped up, but because of the fact that I couldn’t read the lines, I didn’t know what I was answering.  This was not the only problem I ran into though, as almost all of the sound seemed to just pop in at random times, but for the most part would be completely gone.  I really hope that the Kingdoms of Amalur name takes off, but if the game ships with numerous bugs that break the game to the point of non-playability, I see 2012 getting off to a far rougher start than I would have desired.              


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