Zero Punctuation: Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

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IamLEAM1983:
One of my biggest problems with Amalur is how it handles its story, actually. Skyrim knows to let the environment speak and to present its fiction in digestible chunks. On the other hand, Amalur is bloated with exposition that's delivered in a fairly lifeless manner. It doesn't help that while Skyrim's world design ensures that there's always something around the corner, Amalur is mostly lifeless until you run into some other town or encounter the same mob for the -nth time.

The only thing Amalur has going for it is the combat. Not to piss on anyone who appreciates R.A. Salvatore, but cribbing from Celtic mythology for a change doesn't save what's ultimately a fairly bad example of kitchen-sink design. Amalur's been competently put together, but there's just no uniqueness or personality to it all.

On a personal level, I also think the interface design is fairly horrid, as well. Why do I need to hit B three times every single time I leave my weapon selection screen or switch apparel?

To be fair though, Amalur is the first game in a series, and Skyrim was not. The enviroments of Skyrim don't really speak that well for themselves, and are just as generic pseudo-viking stuff as Amalur is celtic. The differance is that most of the major exposition needed for Tamriel took place in other games. While they exist, very few people who are playing Skyrim are actually new to the series, the anticipation based on previous titles is exactly why it was a blockbuster before it even appeared, with people literally creating songs about it before it's release. :)

See, with The Elder Scrolls, all those books and pieces of NPC and quest dialogue built up quite a world. Chances are if your playing Skyrim and singing the praises of Tamriel you either read a LOT of this stuff in previous games, or you had someone who DID explain it to you. The storyline of Morrowwind which is where the current gameplay comes from was not conveyed entirely through the actions and enviroment, to find out all of the stuff that sold that plotline and is currently common knowlege you had to track down and read books, private notes about guys like Vivec, and pay attention to what people were telling you. The same is true of all the ramifications of what was going on throughout Oblivion.

To be honest one of my big criticisms of both Oblivion and Skyrim is that I feel they built too heavily off of Morrowwind and actually haven't included much in the way of world development, in favor of becoming inceasingly casual. A lot of the books and lore is simply system assets recycled from previous games, as opposed to a lot of new material being created for this game. While the story of the Dragonborn is interested, compared to the depth of Morrowwind and that entire divine soap opera, it's nothing.

I tend to agree with Amalur not being anything special though, to be honest I was quite disappointed. I expected more from an RA Salvatore/Todd Mcfarlane team up (I believe he did the art), even with Todd doing a less dark art style. My issue isn't so much that they borrowed from Celtic mythology, which would have been awesome normally, my problem is that they decided to pretty much crib the basic plotline from David Edding's stories about Sparhawk, which I won't go into. When I hear the term "Well of Souls" that's generic enough where it makes me roll my eyes.

There is a LOT of good stuff and cool stories that could be told about the summer and winter courts, and their natures and conflicts. Jim Butcher's "Dresden" books draw on this heavily for some of the material. I don't think this did it though from what I've seen.

As far as Dark Souls goes, I don't think anyone can lionize that in terms of story. It's pretty much pre-Tolkien fantasy that is so old it's new I guess. It's like some of the darker Michael Moorcock or Robert E. Howard stories atmopherically, except their uberness is replaced by your plot-justified abillity to keep coming back from the dead and graveyard zerg the scenario through patience.... a death prone glaciar that inevitably consumes everything if your persistant enough. You might think the dark horror elements are unique, but really at the time a lot of classic fantasy was written the genere was generally "wierd tales" and it was highly incestuous with writers borrowing from, copying, and amulating each other left and right, and even collaberating and outright borrowing each other's work with permission. Some people who didn't follow the time period occasionally catch some lovecraftian themes present in Conan or something that seems to be a referance to Conan as a pre-history in a Mythos story, well that's because Robert E. Howard wrote mythos stories with Lovecraft's permission and they collaberated. Michael Moorcock dealt with the same guys, and characters like Sojan The Swordsman, and what eventually grew into his entire Champion Eternal mythos were due to him finding the nature of characters like Conan too limiting for the stories he wanted to tell (I read some things about it).

Basically in playing Dark Souls, I feel like I'm walking into one of those old wierd tales, where the author just got permission to use some of Lovecrafts work to my misfortune, and it shows in the design of my enemies and atmosphere of my sword and sorcery story (which is more over the top than anything he would actually write).

But then again, I'll also say that while fun, I'm pants at Dark Souls, and the utterly craptastic magic system hasn't given me much motivation to play. When I play fantasy I want a dedicated wizard to be a viable option, and this game pretty much forces me to play melee who can only use magic in a sporadic and limited fashion.

Sounds pretty good, I'm going to get it based on this, I hesitate to call it such, but, "review" =D

Seriously, I got Driver:SF after the ZP ep on it, it, was, awesome.

Simonoly:
I'm also very bored of elves/dwarves/orc based fantasy games. I feel Elder Scrolls manages to get away with as it has the Argonians and Khajit also, but still, can we not all try a little harder to move away from Tolkien and towards something fresh? I think, for all it's downfalls, this is why Dark Souls was my fantasy game of the year - no whiny elves!

Agreed. But people want what they know.

Me, I'd be fucking THRILLED with another Elder Scrolls sett in Elseweyr or Blackmarsh...with Khajits and/or Argonians at the helm. Probably preferably Khajits as I feel they have more of an interesting way of being/talking.

OT: KOA is dull. It feels like wow without the people.

Therumancer:
The reason why you have "traditional" sword and sorcery dominating so much of game design is that it's probably the only real genere where the tropes reinforce relatively deep game design and progression.

More words go here...

Brilliant post. It's a shame that science fiction works like this though; As much as I enjoy the medieval fantasy games, I would still like to see more science fiction enter the fantasy genre. Mass Effect did this particularly well, Mass Effect 2 did this alright but not as good as its predecessor (I don't expect ME3 to do much better).

Yahtzee:
You might almost think Kingdoms of Whatever It Was was at some point planned to be a MMORPG but chickened out when they saw all the skulls piled up outside World of Warcraft's cave.

It's funny he says this, because Kingdoms of Amalur is the "prologue" for an upcoming MMO, codenamed Copernicus. It's still in the works and is now being developed by 38 Studios (who also worked on KOA: Reckoning).

Source: http://38studios.com/products/copernicus

That however, doesn't justify the repetitive and tedious quests and general progression that KOA: Reckoning provides. Just because it's the precursor to an MMO doesn't stop it from being a singleplayer now. Being a singleplayer it should've aimed to please the group of people who play singleplayer games, not those who play MMOs, since the latter would be playing MMOs right now anyway.

Overall, KOA: Reckoning isn't an entirely bad game. I mean, I've played much, much worse. It's just not particularly "good". I felt that gameplay wise, games like Skyrim were much better (though honestly, Skyrim is just as easy as KOA is - the difficulty sliders only increase health and damage, as well, not the actual AI mechanics) but story-wise, KOA kicks the crap out of Skyrim (Skyrim's story had so much potential that it never used).

Only real issue I had with KOA's story was the whole paradoxical effect of being separated from Fate. You have this whole thing about your character NOT being driven by Fate, yet obviously Fate had to decide that you would be reborn and your powers unfolded in the first place (this is implied about 30-60 minutes in, in fact).

Oh, god, now I really want an RPG based on the Mumin-stories.

Or perhaps a tactical squadbased shooter where the mumin-trolls do their part of the fighting against the Russians in the Talvisota. "Mumin: The White Death"!

Also, on the subject of the generic Western fantasy genre, I do agree, it's gotten into a rather boring mess. The reason of which, I think, is that there's not enough experimenting going on. One thing I'd love to see would be a fantasyworld that actually evolve. I mean, one of the d0rf's main shtick is their steam machinery and industry. Why on earth not expand on that, give them electricity, nuclear power plants and assault rifles and whatnot.

Furthermore, in a world with naturally occuring magic, people practicing it and a developing industry, it will take about fifteen minutes until someone crafts an equivolent to an atomic bomb. Imagine something Fallout-like set in a fantasy-land. Imagine what a bit of mutagenic mana fallout would do to the dragons!

I remember you complaining about not being able to recognize the wildlife in Morrowind, so quit complaining about elves and dwarves.

Yahtzee the reason why this game seems so much like an MMO might have something to do with.. That..... *dramatic pause* The Game is technically a Prequel FOR an MMO build in the same world and set after the event of the game :P

tzimize:

Simonoly:
I'm also very bored of elves/dwarves/orc based fantasy games. I feel Elder Scrolls manages to get away with as it has the Argonians and Khajit also, but still, can we not all try a little harder to move away from Tolkien and towards something fresh? I think, for all it's downfalls, this is why Dark Souls was my fantasy game of the year - no whiny elves!

Agreed. But people want what they know.

Me, I'd be fucking THRILLED with another Elder Scrolls sett in Elseweyr or Blackmarsh...with Khajits and/or Argonians at the helm. Probably preferably Khajits as I feel they have more of an interesting way of being/talking.

OT: KOA is dull. It feels like wow without the people.

That's a good point. I suppose you know what you're getting with all them dwarves and elves. I was kind of impressed when Dragon Age took a new slant on it and cast humans as the dominant species and elves as the oppressed - it's so frequently the other way around.

I really really want an Elder Scrolls set in Elseweyr too! Bethesda really need to start exploring the beast races of Tamriel, as there's so much we just don't know about them.

baby's first skyrim is a genius bit of explanation.

Hats off and bravo.

"Baby's first Skyrim" eh? Sounds adequate enough. After all, I heard that *gasp* you could only spend about 70 hours on this game.

Yahtzee lost heir to the Kingdom of Meh.
I feel very ehh about that.

Theres an RPG easier than Skyrim? Not that I haven't died plenty anyways. Damn those enemies significantly stronger than your buddies.

wasneeplus:
Yes, I am indeed quite tired of fantasy, it needs more monster girls.

I hear Monster Girl Quest 2 has recently been translated, and no I haven't played it, and stop looking at me that way.

Can we come up with a new name for all of these northern Europe elves and dwarves shenanigans?
I mean, they're clearly not fantasy, because that would imply they had to actually think something up on their own.
Why can't we have fantasy games that are weird and inventive, like a Walter Moers novel or something. He wrote a book about a dinosaur novelist dressed like Shakespeare making his way through a labyrinth of subterranean libraries filled with horrible monsters in order to stop a villain who is half a shark and half a grub from leveraging his used book shop into world domination. Doesn't that sound like it would make a more memorable and enjoyable game than all of this generic sword-and-sorcery crap?

I'm so glad someone finally shit over this game. I was sick of hearing about how Skyrim's combat was boring and that this was the answer.

Skyrim isn't a combat game.

Enduwolf:
I'm so glad someone finally shit over this game. I was sick of hearing about how Skyrim's combat was boring and that this was the answer.

Skyrim isn't a combat game.

My thoughts exactly. If you don't like TES combat, don't buy the games. The Elder Scrolls has always been about the world and your character.

TES VI: Elsweyr or bust!!!

Yatzee, you crazy kangaroo, you failed to see the best part of the game:

KILLING QUEST GIVERS!

Pressing the magical "H" button (on PC) allows for players to now become the evil-doer and go around killing whoever crosses their path.

Take for example this one Traveler who wants help attacking a troll to get a ring. First off, at the end of the quest you can chose to keep the ring for yourself (best choice), or give it to her. But, even after giving it to her and her PAYING you, the player can turn around and kill her and still loot the ring.

Best Zero Punctuation in months. And I'm not just saying that because I work at video store.

IMHO, Those guys who made Skyrim can learn a lot from KoA:R.
Accidentally stealing a cup instead of taking the free item right next to it, then being chased down by the whole world isn't going to make the game interesting. Or God forbids that you even think about killing a chicken...

Skyrim tries to be to interactive. There are to many useless items that can be picked up, take a lot of space, but are worth nothing.

While playing KoA, I get the feeling that they didn't even try to make the world more interactive than it needs to be. You can take only items that you can use and that's it.
But the worst is that people complain that KoA is to easy and then say something nice about Skyrim. Really? Skyrim is the easiest RPG I've ever played. Pick the cat class, be a thief and you can kill everyone with your x15 backstab.

This game has maaaany bad things, but please stop comparing it to Skyrim and then saying how it sucks. This game is as good as Skyrim, if not even better.

Skyrim is only good because it has Morrowind as it's foundation, nothing more. The world didn't develop even a bit, the story is almost non existing, the combat is awful and the quests are fetch quests (except the thief guild, they have interesting quests). If you don't see that Skyrim is a bad, shiny version of Morrowind, than you obviously didn't play Morrowind enough. Play Morrowind and you will see that Skyrim is meh in every aspect compared to it (except the visuals).

A sewing machine with a dwarf slave running the pedals is supposed to be easy? I must REALLY suck at sewing.

I've only played the demo, felt like it might have some potential behind it, but RPGs can only hold my interest for so long.

well that was...surprisingly neutral

as ive said, I want to try this, mabye it will do for me that skyrim didnt

Enduwolf:
I'm so glad someone finally shit over this game. I was sick of hearing about how Skyrim's combat was boring and that this was the answer.

Skyrim isn't a combat game.

Im glad somone said some bad things about skyrim...

...as its constant prais was annoying, and as I said yahtzee seemed surprsingly neutral on this one

I don't understand why this game isn't getting more praise, it's a pretty good game. In comparison to skyrim I think it's far superior in almost every way. The writing is better, the game play is better, It's just smaller, and the character creation part is lacking. Also I wish that there were more varying armor designs, but I thought the same thing about skyrim.

Psychotic:

Therumancer:
The reason why you have "traditional" sword and sorcery dominating so much of game design is that it's probably the only real genere where the tropes reinforce relatively deep game design and progression.

More words go here...

Brilliant post. It's a shame that science fiction works like this though; As much as I enjoy the medieval fantasy games, I would still like to see more science fiction enter the fantasy genre. Mass Effect did this particularly well, Mass Effect 2 did this alright but not as good as its predecessor (I don't expect ME3 to do much better).

Yahtzee:
You might almost think Kingdoms of Whatever It Was was at some point planned to be a MMORPG but chickened out when they saw all the skulls piled up outside World of Warcraft's cave.

It's funny he says this, because Kingdoms of Amalur is the "prologue" for an upcoming MMO, codenamed Copernicus. It's still in the works and is now being developed by 38 Studios (who also worked on KOA: Reckoning).

Source: http://38studios.com/products/copernicus

That however, doesn't justify the repetitive and tedious quests and general progression that KOA: Reckoning provides. Just because it's the precursor to an MMO doesn't stop it from being a singleplayer now. Being a singleplayer it should've aimed to please the group of people who play singleplayer games, not those who play MMOs, since the latter would be playing MMOs right now anyway.

Overall, KOA: Reckoning isn't an entirely bad game. I mean, I've played much, much worse. It's just not particularly "good". I felt that gameplay wise, games like Skyrim were much better (though honestly, Skyrim is just as easy as KOA is - the difficulty sliders only increase health and damage, as well, not the actual AI mechanics) but story-wise, KOA kicks the crap out of Skyrim (Skyrim's story had so much potential that it never used).

Only real issue I had with KOA's story was the whole paradoxical effect of being separated from Fate. You have this whole thing about your character NOT being driven by Fate, yet obviously Fate had to decide that you would be reborn and your powers unfolded in the first place (this is implied about 30-60 minutes in, in fact).

Hmmm, well as another bit I'll mention. One of the reasons why I was kind of disappointed with the game was that with RA Salvatore writing I expected a fairly original storyline, even if he was cribbing from Celtic Myth. The entire plotline about the "chosen one" who is fated to be the only one outside of fate is pretty much ripped off from David Eddings and his books about Sparhawk. I won't say it's identical, but comes very close on a lot of levels.

The problem with this storyline is that as far as I experienced they don't really spend much time dealing with the ramifications of what exactly this means. They prattle on about it, but miss obvious questions that formed a lot of the plot points in Sparhawk's adventures. I won't harp on the specifics of that series because it's been a very long time, and I didn't read all of the books due to interruptions when I started, and by the time I had time, years had passed and I had been reading other things... etc... to be honest I didn't think much about it until this game came out. On some levels I feel like one of my favorite writers and one of my favorite artists have turned into the Batman and Robin of plagerism, with Salvatore knocking off Eddings, and McFarlane knocking off World Of Warcraft's art team.... and in the process becoming the dynamic duo of mediocrity.

At any rate when it comes to making a prophecy about someone to whom prophecy does not apply, that's a question I can sort of answer. See, since everyone else has a destiny the guy can sort of be "seen" simply by being the one thing that isn't there so to speak. So the existince of the arrival of that blank can be predicted by everything else around it.

Likewise, when the dude who has no destiny takes action he doesn't exactly prevent everything he effected from having a fate, he merely changes what it is, and on a high enough level (like a god) he can be sort of tracked back through that by seeing what was altered. What's more those controlling fate can also changed fates in response themselves (you'll notice there IS a goddess of fate in Amalur). This kind of thing incidently also presents a threat to an entire cosmological power system, which I think should have come up far more dramatically almost immediatly. Sparhawk (to referance him again) deals with the ramifications to an extent by being something between a high priest and a paladin for the good gods. He's a threat to them on a lot of levels, but also a weapon that can be used to screw with the mechnitions of other gods, and able to turn things on a global scale. The hero in Amalur might follow a deity, but he's not in a position where I really think he could be considered a divine ally, especially not quickly enough.

Amalur never really sold me on why someone like say the Goddess of Fate didn't look at that prophecy and decided this super-dragon/demon/cthulhuesque terror from beyond space wasn't now fated to demolish the a 100 square kilometer area around the well of souls right at that moment. I mean sure by his nature the guy could technically change things and avert that, but it he was that vastly overpowered to the point of being killed as a weak, newly resrurected goober, it wouldn't matter.

They hint vaguely at things like that, but never really give a satisfying answer, focusing more on the whole faerie war thing and your abillity to muck up all these carefully laid plans in force for millenia. Walking out of the tower to meet the first fateweaver guy I was thinking "okay, well now this is probably going to be pretty dramatic" I was kind of amazed at how well he took meeting a guy that is the anti-thesis of his entire religion, and power base.

Its certainly more difficult than Fable games so it's not fair to call this game too easy. Try playing through the game on hard without using Reckoning mode or putting points in blacksmithing (all your equipment is looted not crafted). That would make the game quite hard I reckon!

Im like 50 hrs in and only fully explored 2 regions (out of 5). Fills in time while I wait for ME3 (puts up flameshield for all the haters here)

Honestly, from the demo, it just felt so utterly generic in nearly every way that I didn't bother to pick it up. I hated the graphical style they chose, at leat what I've seen from the demo. And the main quest quickly became lost to me as I ended up doing silly chores for people I didn't really care about. At least the NPCs for the side-quest had some kind of characterization though. I did care for most of them to some degree. But they still seemed to be broad arch-types for every character.

Likely pick this up eventually, during a Steam Sale I'd bet. But... I dunno. The demo just made the game feel lifeless to me and I got bored with 25 minutes left before it ended.

Play it on hard.

It can actually be pretty difficult at time. (Though having terrible camera angles also adds to that)

Baby's first skyrim? Did Yatzhee play something else and just told us he played Skyrim cause fuck it, it's not like we'd know? What the fuck was so complex about Skyrim? Don't get me wrong, these are definitely two very different games, but there's nothing complex about either of them.

Although I will give the advantage to Kingdoms because the combat, while just as easy, is infinitely more enjoyable than Skyrim.

Messing with a tiger's bollocks. Geeeeeeeeeenius.

The only problem I have with this game is that the side quests can get -really- bland. The rewards are pretty piss poor too, I have over a million gold already

Still like the game though

I disagree about monsters respawning. It makes the world feel more alive if not everything revolved around your actions. I mean, apply this where needed, like wild animals should respawn, but that bandit camp you cleared out should not be re-inhabited by a new group of bandits that saw a bunch of unused camping equipment lying around.

As for the size of the world I heartily agree. The world is vast and expansive to be sure, but part of the time, and it's quite visible on the map, it feels like you're running through corridors. Really wide corridors with lots of stuff in them but corridors nonetheless. The camera thing also takes away any "vertical" feel to world so while it's wide and expansive to be sure, it's extremely flat.

it was an excellant game. Played it through the demo, and bought it on release.

Don't regret it at all, it's not as deep as Skyrim but is more fun IMO for it being less drawn out.

Scrustle:
I actually welcome the resurgence of "standard" fantasy settings in games right now. For a long time I've been left cold by games with alternate settings that just didn't move me, like the settings of Mass Effect, Fallout 3 and NV, and Fable 2 and 3. But I agree that the way the game drowns you in incomprehensible lore terms pretty overwhelming at first. I'm starting to get a hold of it now, but it seems they could have made it a lot easier than they did.

personal taste I guess..I fucking LOVE fallout, it has to be one of my absolute favorite settings ever,

and Mass effect is hardly "alternate", thats 100% classic sci fi..and its AWSOME

as you can tell I just dont get fantasy....it feels so bland and lifeless half the time

Well, I'm glad this happened.
Mostly because this vid just validates my opinion on this shitty game.
Maybe now, people will cease yelling at me for daring to say KoA sucks big floppy donkey dick.

Aprilgold:

But it goes deeper then that, since Skyrim's Baby's First Oblivion, which is Baby's First Morrowind.

But yeah, that makes sense, because thats basically what it is, a singleplayer MMO.

I disagree with Skyrim being babys first Oblivion but agree that Morrowind was better then both.

Really I like Skyrim and Morrowind better for the same reason, uniqueness of setting.

Skyrim could of done more to go completely away from standard medieval fantasy and really embrace the Viking aesthetic but the bits they did go for were brilliant and I had a blast playing around in the surroundings.

Morrowind of course is so strange as a setting that it can 100% be described as fantasy and I loved that too (except for the floating prison...damn that place).

Oblivion though? Meh.

Oooh, standard english countryside yippee...and look! Paved highways! Let me get my adventure socks on!

Just hated it, and it only got worse with the cookie-cutter repetition of the oblivion gates.

fanklok:
I tried the demo and it just felt like Dragon Age with a dodge button. Still am not interested in it.

I am of the same mind here. Kind of surprised there weren't any Dragon Age references (except for the one at the beginning of course). Then again, it felt like Origins to me, more so than DA2. Not picking this up until the price drops if at all.

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