Platforms - PS3, X360
Genre - RPG Action
Aust. Classification – MA15+
Publisher - Electronic Arts
The story is well developed and it gets a lot more interesting as the game progresses but basically Gatflow is the new king and while beholding a dreadful power he is very aggressive. You died and are left to rot but then suddenly you are brought back to life by The Well of Souls. Wading through a mountain of corpses you are the first of a kind who has been resurrected by its power and with an unattached fate, you are free to choose your own destiny.
It follows the path of the well-trodden RPG road, starting by customising your character (I made my character a cross between an elf and Marilyn Manson) and choosing from four different classes/races at the start and then the particular God you would like to follow i.e. Wisdom, Love, Death, Fate, Mischief or none of the above, each coming with a variety of bonuses for aligning with one, then it is time to play.
Visually it is not what I expected and not as detailed or realistic as I would have liked. Mostly I was treated to a more cartoony colourful world. Don't get me wrong it is not that the design work is bad in this game, quite the contrary; it just looked a bit dated as far as the overall graphics were concerned. With Todd McPharlane (Spawn creator) on board as visual designer, I expected something more gruesome and dark. There are moments of this shadier style shining through in the form of finishing moves and cutscenes and the creature designs were definitely a highlight. When I thought about this rationally I realised that nearly every other RPG goes for the realistic approach whereas now the developers have managed to have a noticeable point of difference to make it stick out from the crowd.
After playing for about two hours I was completely engrossed in this world. Those initial expectations and first impressions withered away as I just settled into playing the game. The visuals grew on me, with loads of enemy variety. Together with constantly changing backdrops it does not get visually monotonous and I particularly loved the setting and landscapes, as it has a real fantasy, Avatar-ish thing going on. What I was mostly disappointed in graphically was the in game conversations and motion capture, as it was this part in particular that wasn't realistic enough and I was met with mostly expressionless faces with reactions that would have been at home on the Wii and did not match the voiceover provided.
The pretty standard weapon selection (including various oversized and normal swords, a staff, an oversized hammer, daggers etc with plenty of varieties of both these and armour found scattered around the world) is made all the more powerful through the excellent variety of upgrades available when leveling up from acquiring XP. It is not just weapons that benefit either, you choose from a variety of selections in three different classes to make the character your own through spending these points on the different powers in each upgrade tree. Leveling up increases abilities or creates new ones like the Mortal Combat Scorpion move-a-like, pulling the small enemies in from slightly afar to kick their butt at close range. The thing that differentiates this from other RPG’s original aspects of the game are the Twist of Fate Cards, these are blessed upon the player after completion of certain Quests and they can provide a much needed boost to one or more of the player attributes.
Additionally you can harvest Reagents found in plants (by leveling up the Alchemy skill) for creating potions, health and other handy concoctions. One thing I thought it was strange however was that the level up points need to be spent in their entirety before being able to confirm them and lock them in, so storing them up was not an option, but in saying that you can reset them all by having a chat to the Fateweaver. Then of course there is always the fun of looting, being able to use the collected gold to purchase items and selling unwanted items, just like you would expect from this kind of game. The ability to assign consumables to the Quick execution wheel makes it really easy to replenish health etc easily in the midst of battle.Accessing the special abilities is just as easy by holding the Right shoulder button and hitting the action button that corresponds to the particular power you want to use. As a matter of fact the combat is solid and there isn’t too much to nitpick about apart from some slow AI moments where I was literally able to walk right by enemies without being noticed and without even using stealth. The excellent variety of powers and effects available make the combat deep, challenging and satisfying. I loved using the Reckoning Mode especially, this is where once the Fate meter is full it can be activated and a blue tone fills the screen having more powerful moves at your disposal and a finishing move that requires button mashing to increase the amount of XP rewarded at the end of the fight. Both World Map and Local Map are helpful and detailed with Fast travelling available to zip to already discovered places. Quests can be selected and activated via the Quest Menu.
Some of the voice acting seemed a bit overacted and some of the dialogue was self-gratuitous but overall it was done well and the other character interactions were more than interesting enough to keep the momentum rolling. Some of the side quests and jobs were menial (just like most RPG's) but they are necessary to acquire enough cash to buy the really cool items available from the good peddlers. Story-wise it is fantastic and there was not a moment where I was disappointed in this element of the game at all. The gameplay is absorbing and there is that much happening that it doesn’t leave much room for boredom in any way.
The world of Amalur is massive and there are so many side quests that its borders are bursting at the seams. Together with the masses of main missions to complete it will keep you going for quite a while and although it was fun to play once, I have other games I need to review so I can't, but the opportunity is there for those that are keen just by choosing a different character class and going down the path of a different fate, but I may be tempted to go back into Amalur with DLC's as I did enjoy my time there.
This is a great RPG and once completed I found it a lot more satisfying than most of the others I have played recently. It is good for all levels of player and it eases you into its gameplay at a perfect pace and explains the controls perfectly without dragging more advanced players through tireless tutorials. It may take a little longer to grasp for those new to the RPG genre but there is no better Western RPG to cut your teeth with. I think for me I had a complete understanding of the game after playing for about an hour and although I have played quite a few games in the same ilk, I wouldn’t call myself an RPG expert by any means. The items and menus are all fairly intuitive with a comparison chart that easily lay out the advantages and differences of each item. For those looking for something a bit different in this Role Playing Genre then this will satisfy that itch. Have fun.For the final score and more, go to Maceman Reviews
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