Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Kingdom of Amalur Demo Impressions
The Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning Demo hit XBLA, PSN and PC today. It is 2 gigabytes large and they have created one of the most thoroughly thought out demo's I've ever seen. I've played the demo through once on PC and Xbox 360, both of which have pretty different controls and seem to fit each platform quite well. I must say that after a second playthrough the PC version does not feel nearly as fluid as the console version did and many of the menu's seem to be ports of the console menu's. The demo seems to give you full access to the game with regards to skills, levels, equipment, crafting, quests and the roles. The only restraint it has, the restraint that is to thank for giving you so much content to experience, is a timer. Once you get out into the open world the game will give you a forty five minute time limit, but one that encourages you to play the game at your own pace. This timer does not count down if you are in menu's or in conversations, one of the many things this demo does right.
One of the biggest differences between this game and many other rpg's is that this one has a fluid action based combat system, one that is far quicker and more exciting that most systems out there. The one thing that I noticed with the PC version that is superior is the camera, even though the game in general would benefit from being able to zoom out a little farther than the fixed third person camera will let you. The first reason why the demo is so well created is that even though the game is a demo it remembers what you have done, one reasoning for that is just so it can remember your unlocks for Mass Effect 3 or the full game, but the other reason has to do with ease of access. The demo has you go through the beginning of the game and the first section is 15-20 minutes long if you don't rush through it, and once you beat the first section you will forever have the option to skip past all of that in order to go straight into the open world. The demo really only shows off one biome, the wolf/bandit/troll filled forest, but it does look quite good on both console and PC. The game has a colorful fantasy based graphical quality that might make you think it is aimed for younger or "lighter" audiences, but this is a dark world. You execute enemies with a bloody ferocity and goodly folk seem to be in deadly peril at every turn. The language and lore also suggests a world that is aimed for mature audiences, much like how Dragon Age and Mass Effect generally have heavier themes.
One of the few things that the demo didn't show off was any idea of choices and consequences. I had a few options to kill, extort, blackmail or save people but I didn't see if that had any impact on anything. One of the first things I did in the game was try to steal from a house, which I failed to do and ended up killing six guards. I figured I would go outside and no one would know what I did but damn was I wrong. Guards poured out of the Inn and I found myself fighting six guards in the middle of the first town in the game. I managed to kill them all, which was surprisingly easy, and subsequently went around town killing everyone. This game is a little harsher with NPC's than many other rpg's. I had received one quest when I entered the town and one of the first people to come to try to kill me was a named NPC that I need for a side quest. Once I murdered him that quest was changed to fail and that man was gone forever. I also managed to wipe out another quest giver, one who kept coming back from the dead but he ended up permanently dying with the rest, but I believe his death to be a bug since they obviously had a system in place for him not to die. Merchants may also be killed, permanently and the game doesn't seem to give you any chance to fix that. It took me a while to figure out how to fix this, once I didn't want to kill or steal anymore, and ended up turning myself into some guards who were far stronger than I. All I had to do was sleep in jail for 24 hours, with seemingly no repercussions, but it is a demo and I'm sure they have a more complicated system in place in the full product.
Demo Page: http://reckoning.amalur.com/r/demo
Main Website: http://reckoning.amalur.com/
-Written by Sean Cargle