Sunday, January 29, 2012

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Demo Hands-On

A good hour into this demo, and one thought occurred to me:

“Wow, so they finally made Fable good.”

Before I even get into the amount of content in the demo for Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, this needs to
be addressed. I’m not even the first to make the comparison, and I’m certainly not the last. Play the demo, leave the first dungeon and start a quest or two in the outer world. You will leave wishing Fables I through III played this good and looked as awesome.

Pictured: Better Fable.

The bulk of the comparison is focused on the combat in both games. Primary and secondary weapons are mapped to X and Y, while holding the R trigger enables the magic spells mapped to the face buttons. Whereas Fable’s sword-swinging melee moved like a log through molasses, KoA:R combat is smooth and buttery. Chaining simple combos while come naturally, and even at an early level are still effective. The blocking was impressive in addition to the offensive side. Timing a block correctly triggers a knock-back on an opponent, allowing for a better attack. Getting that timing down is a little tricky, which means you won’t be spamming blocks all day hoping for a crit. By the time this game launches, anyone who downloaded the demo should be a pro simply from experience. This is a looong demo.

Just Cause 2 was a spectacular demo/advertisement, by which I mean they gave you 30 minutes to do whatever the hell you wanted in a large chunk of the main island. And the timer is extended every time you do something insanely dangerous.

 Like this.

I must have played that demo over a dozen times in the first week, experimenting with every possible combination of guns, vehicles, and explosives. Needless to say, this was a day one purchase.

Thankfully, KoA:R  follows suit and after completing the introductory dungeon, the player is treated to a message indicating a 45 minute timer as begun (minus pause time and conversations). From there quests can be tackled and dungeons can be explored. With the exception of the timer no obvious limits impede on the gameplay. The early quests already indicate some interesting storylines, between a cowardly monk running from a sexist monastery to an assaulted fae (?) causing political tensions between two communities. I guess paying for a real fantasy author was worth the few extra bucks, huh?

This sort of demo is perfect for open world games. Most previews either start you from the very beginning with zilch, or plop you in the middle with way too much handle. They don’t let you grasp the breadth of the game properly. KoA:R has done a fine job of that so far by giving me a significant taste of expectations for road ahead.


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