The Game That Is: 38 Studios' Completed Creation
Warning: This game contains giant spiders that manifest suddenly, with no notice to the player. All fellow players as terrified of spiders as I am, proceed with caution.
I have to hand it to him, Curt Schilling's got game, and not just on the mound. While I cannot attest to the unfortunate fate of his company, 38 Studios, which was named after his number when he played for the Red Sox, what I can say is they made one heck of a game.
Unfortunately, one game is all they managed to make before bankruptcy shut them down. Fortunately for us, it's an RPG in a lovely and expansive world. So, let's take a look, with the good, the bad, and the final judgement for Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.
Before we get started I would like to remind my readers that this is just my opinion of the game. If you have a differing viewpoint, feel free to comment, I love talking about gaming experiences with people who love games as much as I do.
If you've read the couple reviews I've written thus far, you've probably pieced together that I'm someone who takes joy in choosing and customizing. You'd be right, it's one of my favorite parts of any game I play that gives the option to do so.
Kingdoms of Amalur has a pretty good amount of customization in the game, which ranges from normal RPG choices like race and war paint, to smaller, finer details like piercings. The game even let me give my character my nose piercing. As you progress in your game there are new armors and weapons to loot and buy, and they all look really cool.
The color scheme is much more gentle than the harsh colors of Skyrim.
In short, the graphics are gorgeous, and there must have been a lot of time put into them. 38 Studios opted out for a much softer looking game with a softer color scheme, in comparison to, let's say Skyrim, which is every bit as beautiful, but the images are very sharp and finely detailed. Kingdoms of Amalur...well, see for yourself.
The color scheme is much more gentle than the harsh colors of Skyrim. This is not meant as an insult in any way to Skyrim, since the harsh color palate was intentional, especially in the colder regions of the game.
Ladies, if you get bothered by the fact that your character, in a lot of RPGs, runs around wearing almost nothing, yet illogically has enough armor to choke a dragon, then this game is most definitely for you.
Kingdoms of Amalur allows your female character to wear huge bulky armor that physically lines up with the armor score given to it, while still maintaining a classy, yet sexy outline of the body, if you'd like. Or, you could go totally Metroid and get the biggest, most bulky armor ever. Either way, 38 Studios has got you covered, literally.
I can't say the same about in-game NPCs, though.
I give some major props here, though that might be because I usually played games where either religion was only mentioned around your character and not to them, or there was one god of the game and you either believed in him/her/it, or you didn't. Then there are games like Skyrim, where there are many gods and goddesses, and you can choose which one you worship, and at any given time you can change that. Kingdoms of Amalur took that approach, and changed it a little.
There are many gods to choose from, the catch is you can only choose one, and you choose right at the beginning of the game, during customization. Each god has their own permanent effect to offer you, which can help you grow quicker in the game. Or, the game gives players the option to not pick a god to follow at all, and you still get a 1% experience bonus, though it is by far the weakest effect of the choices given.
"Thank you, Maker"? I was the one who saved you! You know what the Maker did? A whole lot of NOTHING.
The appearance of many gods throughout a game, or even a book, is a truly phenomenal thing. There are so many games where there is just one god, and everyone follows him/her/it, and anyone who doesn't is the bad guy. They also say 'thank god' for moments of fortune, like when someone saves them. I'm looking at you, Dragon Age. "Thank you, Maker"? I was the one who saved you! You know what the Maker did? A whole lot of NOTHING.
You know, looking back, I'm making a lot of comparisons to Skyrim, so I guess it's time to kick off the bad list.
Too Similar to...
For those of you who have played this game, did you ever get the feeling that it was all too...familiar? The coloring is a lot like World of Warcraft, not to mention half of this review thus far has compared the game to Skyrim.
Obviously, most RPGs will follow the same guidelines and that's perfectly understandable, but come on. The game even has its own version of the Thieves' Guild, called the Travelers. The difference is that they pray to a god of some sort, to put it lightly. To put it correctly, they pray at a shrine to what they call The Hierophant.
The Hierophant is actually the group's leader, of whom you have to pray to in front of her shrine to receive your next thieving related quest. ...Wait, this sounds familiar too. Female that isn't actually a goddess that you pray to in order to get your next mark...does that sound like The Dark Brotherhood to anyone else?
Glitches and Bugs
Every game has them, so while reviewing games I like to mention some laggy areas and then let it slide, but in this case, there was an incident that altered, or ceased, gameplay. After looking into 38 Studios it was pretty clear that they were short on time making Kingdoms of Amalur so there were bound to be mistakes. However, I wasn't expecting to find one that could halt a quest altogether. During a quest from the Travelers, you are paired with a fellow member of the group, and sent off.
Now, this quest comes with the twist of the plot for the Travelers which I will not mention because I don't like ruining things for people. What I will say is that during the quest, there comes a point where your companion triggers a trap and is no longer helpful to you. Or at least, that's the way it was written when I Googled why my companion had been tinkering with something for about fifteen minutes. Basically, what was supposed to happen never happened. I would try talking to him, he'd tell me to leave him to his work. Rude. I'd walk out of the room and come back, I'd head outside and come back in, every time, he was still tinkering. This brought me to the end of my questing for the Travelers, which was a shame, since they were probably my favorite part of the game.
My version of Kingdoms of Amalur is for the PC, and I cannot say whether other versions have the same issue. I also have the game for the PS3, but I have not gotten far enough in the game to know whether this happens there as well. I will update when I do find out.
I will not put pictures in of the spiders, I don't want to creep anyone out.
There must be some evil dude (or chick) somewhere who designs all the RPG spiders, because they're all equally terrifying. In Skyrim giant spiders have been known to fall from the ceiling. In Dungeons and Dragons Online there are, get this, ice spiders. But none can compare to what Kingdoms of Amalur has in store. You're walking along, minding your own business, and then in the corner of your eye, you see it. A cobweb. BOOM. Small clouds of dust announce their arrival (suggesting that they burrow?), and they attack you instantly. To be fair, they do remain a little ways away at first, but they do come in close for the kill, and they come in numbers.
What makes them a cut above the rest, however, is that they have their own quest in the game. Not long into your game, you come across a town that is covered in cobwebs, and looks all but deserted. Well, maybe not deserted, seeing as there's a poor soul being attacked by a spider. Once the player saves him, he gives you a quest to rid the town of spiders, and that's not the only spider related quest. You can find people that have been wrapped by spiders on the side of the road, which can be a self-appointed quest.
I will not put pictures in of the spiders, I don't want to creep anyone out. My advice to you, is if you come across a lot of cobwebs and see a town in the distance, turn the other way and run. The quests don't move the main plot forward, there are plenty other monsters to kill, and that guy can learn to save himself.
Despite the spiders and the occasional glitch, this is a really enjoyable game with a lot of likeable characters to come in contact with. 38 Studios may no longer exist, but the one game they did make was excellent.
Well, that's not entirely true. 38 Studios does still exist, but only through one man, and on borrowed time. Remember when I mentioned that they only had time to make one game? That isn't true, or at least not exactly.
What is true, is that somewhere in Providence, Rhode Island, someone is still hard at work maintaining a game that there is very little information about.
A game that I will be filling you in on this time next week.
billd75January 18, 2015, 2:55 pmContributorThere is something strangely addictive about this game. Maybe it's the lore, or quests, combat or the awesome environments. I cannot quite put my finger on what makes it great, but it seems to be a combination of all of these things. It is like I said in my review about it. You "want" to stay in this world and explore. There is something very special going on in this game. Something you don't see every day. It has that same addictivness that the Fable series had. It "made" you want to spend hours playing it.
Tony_7670November 21, 2014, 4:28 amI love this game, It needed more time, More Expansions or add on's. The Game play was Fun the Weapons were Awesome, the World was Beautiful. Microsoft needs to buy the rights to this game and make a second one.
Jade ArsenaultDecember 20, 2014, 11:22 amContributormy thoughts exactly, there was so much more they could have done with this game, I just wish they had the time to completely tap into this game's full potential. Thanks for givin this a read, I appreciate it.
billd75December 28, 2014, 5:06 pmContributorI would love to see that happen! Tons of potential in this game. Maybe EA will do something more with it seeing as they are the "big company" that was behind this game's distribution.
billd75December 28, 2014, 5:11 pmContributorAgreed. There is a lot they "could" have done with this game, however, when you actually get deep into the game, you can see that they already have a HUGE amount of content!
Jade ArsenaultJanuary 18, 2015, 1:49 pmContributorI don't know the current state of things but what I do know is that Curt Schillings had been pushing for Sony to buy rights to some of their unreleased games. I do wish some company would see this game for the jewel that it is and buy it
billd75January 18, 2015, 2:46 pmContributorIndeed. I don't think Sony will go for it though cause they are having money troubles. They just announced that they are closing all Sony Stores in Canada. The PSN hack job, I'm sure has cost them some serious bucks too. Sony is kinda strapped right now. Lol. I would love to see somebody pick this up though. There is some serious potential in this game, especially with the lore. It has some fresh (albiet sometimes poorly acted, voiced and animated) characters lore and content to it. I'd love to see Curt recoup some of his losses on this and "someone" give us some more of this game. I am not finished the game yet. Lol. Still playing it to it's fullest. Side quests GALORE in this game! I love this game as much as Skyrim if not more. I am also busy with many other games so it's hard to keep up with Reckoning. Such a HUGE games I know it is going to take a while and that is just fine by me. That's what a 'quality" game should be. I got my money's worth on this game, no doubt! I tip my hat to #38 Mr. Shilling. It was a great vision he had and he really tried. That's passion for gaming right there.
billd75November 13, 2014, 4:14 amContributorI wrote a review about this game here too and it is very similar to your's in comparison and opinion. No worries about comparing it too much to Skyrim. I did the exact same thing in my review and it's hard not to, because let's face the real facts here. Skyrim killed this game, not because it was a bad game though! Bad release timing on the developer's part.
Jade ArsenaultDecember 20, 2014, 11:26 amContributoroh good I was worried people wouldn't understand why I kept looking to Skyrim. And of course Skyrim is going to trump this game, but that isn't really bad, in fact I think it's expected. Skyrim was an installment in an already popular franchise created by people with experience, Reckoning was made by a studio that had just been created, and as such I'm actually really impressed with the end result, though I wish they could have stuck around to do a little more with the game.