Thursday, February 2, 2012

Amalur: Power Packed Team = Success?

Hey Everyone

Thank you once again for coming to toyconstruct for your nerdy goodness! After enjoying the awesomeness of JQ's T-80B, I guess it's some time for some fantasy!

Box art for the Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.
Not sure if you've heard, but there is a new RPG (with whole new IP) coming out in the horizon, and it's none other than Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, which is coming out soon on Feb 7th 2012. There's quite some hype surrounding Amalur, as it is published by 38 Studios (with EA), which is mainly known to have been put together by former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling.

The Founder of 38 Studios, Curt Schilling.
The beginnings of Amalur is an interesting one. Schilling is renowned to be a gaming geek and a baseball pro at the same time. Also, he's known to love World of Warcraft...which might have inspired him to make a MMORPG of his own. This MMO project started out as "Copernicus", but was changed to a single-player RPG that would eventually become Amalur.

R.A. Salvatore, well known for his writing for the Forgotten Realms series.
The impressive cast includes New York Times bestseller R.A. Salvatore, who's probably best known for his Forgotten Realms novels and Drizzt Do'Urden. Gamespot did a very interesting interview with him that talked about how he gets his inspiration for writing stories and his views on storytelling in games today.

Mr. Todd McFarlane, celebrated creator of Spawn.
Spawn creator Todd McFarlane is Amalur's art director, and is responsible for guiding artists in fleshing out the game world. The designs take on a very Fable-esque look, and the character + monster designs I have seen are rather original.

Ken Rolston, lead designer of Morrowind and Oblivion fame.
Ken Rolston of the Elder Scrolls fame joins in as the lead designer for Amalur, and is mainly responsible for fleshing out game mechanics (lockpicking is reminiscent of Oblivion), which at the heart features a rather innovative class-less leveling system. Interestingly, Rolston has extensive experience with tabletop gaming, from AD&D to Warhammer RPG, and has won awards for paper-and-pencil RPGs.

So with such an impressive cast of individuals involved in Amalur, will it live up to the hype and become a RPG hit of its own...or will it be relegated to an ambitious game that failed to gain traction with gamers?

Good thing is, there's a demo out there that you can'll need to access it through EA's Origin or Steam. If you're a Mass Effect fan, playing this demo will unlock additional equipment for your retail copy of Mass Effect 3.

Here's the launch trailer to Amalur:

Demo Impressions:

Generally, it is hard to tell if Amalur will succeed. There are elements that make it special, and inevitably its existence as a fantasy RPG will have gamers comparing it against Skyrim...which has a superior graphics engine and a loyal fan base, not to forget Diablo III is coming somewhere in the horizon of "early 2012". But all of this does not discount Amalur from becoming a success story.

It took me about 3-4 hours to play through the demo, mostly due to me being a completionist and listening through every line of dialogue. Due to the limitations on game-time, it is difficult to say if the story will be a good one.

A great potential the story holds is that its antagonist faction, the Tuatha, have one eerie resemblance to the fearsome Cylons of BSG fame: practical immortality with resurrection. To me, a story with odds stacked against you makes a solid backdrop for challenging gameplay (eg. Dead Space and Descent: Freespace).

Amalur is very much an action RPG, definitely leaning toward the action part...think more like Dragon Age II than Baldur's Gate. Combat is designed to be flowing, placing a high priority on precise button pressing and reaction times, but without the harsh penalties for failures of Dark Souls/Demon's Souls. If that sounds like your thing, then Amalur might be a good fit for you. I played it on the PC, and the default button assignment is not very intuitive (but can be tweaked in the retail version).

The innovative leveling system works well to give you free reign to play however you want, but the game is too short to notice the consequences of choices made on your character. The class-less system is perhaps a design decision that is catching on in other games, and effective ones have been praised in games like Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Rift.

It is refreshing to see a game that is venturing into new grounds in terms of IP and its game mechanics. It represents a labor of passion of the very talented team behind it, a feeling you can easily feel from reading about their thoughts on making the game. It's not another sequel, it's not a blatant money spinner, but a work of pride of those behind it. I don't plan on pre-ordering it, but I will be keeping tabs on this game performs.

Word is that this game will be the predecessor of an upcoming MMORPG afterall...


  1. Seems pretty fancy fancy crazy for me. But the line up of people working to make this game tempts me to want to give it a try.

    Graphic wise though.. it doesn't really seem to be as competitive as Diablo 3 or Skyrim for that matter. Initial thoughts after seeing this post is.. more of a hm.. then a O M G I have to buy it..:/

    But your pitch for this game sounds pretty convincing Josh! haha


  3. Hmm I think I might give it a shot too. Till Diablo 3 and Witcher 2 come out =P heehee

  4. It is indeed a power packed team but the Trailer does seem to be not really as inspiring as I was expecting. Then again, graphics are not that bad.

    Perhaps my expectation is a bit too high as I was hoping that the trailer would be in CGI format.

  5. It's been awhile since I last been here. Btw, I think I will be getting my hands on this game. It looks promising and the team is indeed powerpack! It is very hard to go wrong with what I am seeing in terms of the team making this game.

    And the graphics look good if it is in game.

    So I think you guys are pretty harsh on it so far. It could even compare with Diablo 3 and Witcher 2.

  6. hawaiiwarhammerfanFebruary 8, 2012 at 1:30 AM

    The game looks great! Not too sure why you guys are so skeptical of it. And as a DND fan, I am psyked to see all these amazing awesome guys band together to make an awesome game.

  7. I think this game looks pretty awesome. And it is on the PS3. I heard the gameplay is really smooth and doesn;t really strain the console. Well, admittedly, the landscape graphics and the character skins are a bit of a contrast, (That being landscape looks great but the PCs and NPCs graphics aren't really amazing quality) but you got to look at the bigger picture which is the game in totality.

    This game gives you the ability to fully customize your character. From a Mage Rogue to a Barbarian Knight (I do wonder if they have a Ranger Knight class), it is really cool