Kingdoms of Amalur Is A Gem
There are a few games I hype up like crazy. This is one of them. I know a lot of people don't like the "cartoony" style of Kingdom's of Amalur, but this is not a childish cartoon game. It just doesn't have realistic graphics. It confuses me that people don't like it just because of the fantasy-styled art direction.
I only have eight hours played on Skyrim, but I think I can reasonably lump the two games in the same category. They have a similar style of gameplay. I definitely like the duel-casting in Skyrim though. Both games are enormous, and I can't stress that enough about KoA. I've heard the same of Skyrim, and I'm sure it's true. But I have fifty-six hours played on KoA already!
Why Do I Love It?
Well, first of all, the graphics are incredible. Don't stop reading! Of course that's not even half of the reason, or the main reason. But graphics do matter. Graphics are the first thing you see, and is your eye-candy through every second of a game. The art was done by one of my all time favorite comic book artists, Todd McFarlane! Yeah! So awesome! And I can see the love he and the other artists put into this game, man. Every single part of the world breathes. Everything moves. Plants come to life as you walk past them. Tree leaves blow in the wind. Shadows are also always alive. I don't want to mislead you though, not every single plant you come across will come to life, but at least half of them do. It's amazing.
The colors bring you a variety of worlds to live in. From lush, vibrant forests, to dark caverns, to boring but beautiful deserts. There are the different towns, forts, and castles you visit, which are all glorious. The very intricate detail that goes into all the buildings and character design runs deep.
These screenshots do not do the game justice. Look at them, and keep in mind that pretty much everywhere you go, the plant-life is moving, the grass and trees move with the wind, the water is flowing, and the shadows move with the sunlight.
Every character has a voice. No matter who you talk to in the game, they all speak. The cool thing is that if you read faster than the voice-acting, you can skip individual lines of dialogue without skipping the whole story. That's if you're just not in the mood to listen at the time. Sometimes I skip, most of the time I listen. Usually the only voice dialogue I skip over are the merchants when I want to sell the treasures I've found.
All the quests are unique. After almost sixty hours of playing, I can't remember a single quest that was the same as another. Sure, you collect items here, kill some enemies there, but the stories are all different. Not only that, they are also interesting! The lore in the game is vast; it amazes me.
Another thing about the NPCs is their expansive dialogue options, you have the choice to get straight to the point, or learn more about them as an individual and the towns they live in. Your first dialogue option is always about the quest they are offering. The rest of the dialogue options offer insights to who they are, what they think about the kingdom they live in, the land around them, the villains of the land, and even what they think of other NPCs. The lore is all optional but is immersive.
When you ask about the lore, it's almost always straight to the point. It's pretty awesome how quickly you can learn about foes, kingdoms, and the world in general, through just a few lines of dialogue. Some of it does go a little longer than others, but for the most part everything you learn comes quickly. There are some repeats. In general, if you ask about a specific enemy, most of the NPCs say the same thing, but maybe with a few different words on the matter. It basically always comes down to, "they're evil." But, if you really want some insight into the characters, they do offer up a bit of flavor with their own words on the same subject. Some do offer up more information than others.
It Seems Never-Ending...
In a good way of course. Every new area I get to, I find several new quests. And usually those quests lead to more quests. As you travel the world doing one quest, you pass by other NPCs that offer more quests. This makes the world feel even more alive. And the NPCs that don't offer you quests or personal dialogue will still talk to you. They even have conversations that you can listen in on!
After all the time that I've put into the game, I've only just now covered half of the map. Of course, I've read about people rushing through the game. That is possible. You can stick to the main quest if you like. There's nothing wrong with that. The reason it was so easy for me to get side-tracked was because of how interesting I found the side-quests to be. I'll never forget my first time getting to the House of... something. I may not remember the name, but I remember how cool it was! This particular chain of events was very long, with a deep lore. There are multitudes of Houses and military type quest chains you come across. These are different than the typical side-quests. These give you an engaging story, offering a chain of quests that take you through the deeper lore of the games world. There are lots of them, and they're totally awesome.
Even The Combat Is Alive
I've only played the Sorceror class so far. First, let me just say that you can actually build a hybrid if you want. The whole skill system is set up really nice for it. I don't know how effective hybrid classes are, but from the looks of it, it's probably pretty balanced. I like my magic though, so that's what I focused on.
The level cap is 40. I'm level 28 after almost sixy hours of gameplay. Yeah, that is badass. Grindy? No. I haven't felt like I was grinding my levels for a single second. You start off powerful, and you get more powerful. So there hasn't been a time where I felt like I needed to reach a certain level to finally do some real damage. There have been some skills that I anticipated getting, of course.
The spells I cast are beautiful. Even the basic ones, like casting a lightning bolt, and some balls of ice look pretty cool. That's basic stuff though, and they were my main spells for quite awhile. Not that I minded. I can now cast lightning, fire, and cold spells separately. Then, I can combine them by chaining one after the other. Then, I actually got to a level where I learned a spell that has it's own combination chain of each element. The colors and casting animations are so incredible!
You Might Not Like The Demo
I played the demo, but I wasn't too impressed. Not because it wasn't cool. Maybe I wasn't in the mood. I don't know. I just remember not being impressed. I do remember that the way the story began was neat, but it wasn't special. I know I loved the graphics. The combat was fun but I think really just the way the story began didn't draw me in.
I played the game for about an hour. There wasn't much to do at first. The demo itself offered up twenty to thirty minutes of content. But the cool thing is you can wander around the game as much as you want, in the limited area the demo offers.
The demo didn't sell me on a $30 price tag. That's because I've been poor all of my life though. That's really all it is. I did like the demo. Eventually the game went on sale, and I picked it up for a great deal. From what I had seen in all the behind-the-scenes video's I watched and the gameplay stuff, I was blown away by it before I even played it. Especially being a fan of Todd McFarlane. Being as impressed as I was before playing it, the demo was a little bit of a let-down.
Now, usually I'm one of those gamers that will tell you, "I know if I want to play a game more after thirty minutes of playing it." Usually that is all it takes. Some games take a little bit longer. Most cases it shouldn't take too long unless its an MMORPG. KoA took an hour for me to get hooked. Once I got past that first little town that was in the demo, and a little bit further, I couldn't stop. The game blew up in my face. All of the sudden, I was in this enormous world that wouldn't stop giving me awesome amounts of content. And everywhere I went was something I had not seen before. It's freaking amazing.
This isn't even my review of the game. Can you imagine? I actually wanted to review the game after playing it for twenty hours but I wanted to do it justice. At this point, I just wanted to share my thoughts on it.
If you want to see more screenshots, I have 92 on photobucket. I'd probably have a thousand if it wasn't for the fact that I couldn't get Steam's overlay to work with the game for a very long time.
Game on! And don't forget to Like my Facebook gaming page! =)