It’s finally time to see what the team at 38 Studios has in store for us, but ‘Amalur’ isn’t the only important videogame hitting stores this week. We’re also getting the sequel to one of the most underrated games of this console generation.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (360, PC, PS3)
There are two possible outcomes for a supergroup: brilliance or disaster. You can end up with something like Emerson, Lake & Palmer, or a band like Damn Yankees. There’s no in-between. Supergroups don’t do mediocre.
Having played the demo for ‘Kingdoms of Amalur’, I have to admit that I’m hopeful for this game. It feels like a whole lot of ‘Fable’ mixed with a few ‘Elder Scrolls’ tropes such as gathering. Combat is fun, whether casting spells or getting in melee range. Everything just feels right.
The place I can see the game getting stale is in the MMO-like side quests. In the hour or so that I played, I experienced a few quests along the main line and then resorted to doing side quests for people in the town. I was disappointed to find out that these were more ‘Warcraft’ than ‘Skyrim’. Each quest was a one-off and led nowhere new.
It’s entirely possible that ‘Amalur’ opens up later into the game, but my initial dip into the world left me wanting for the vast landscapes and detailed quest lines of ‘Skyrim’.
The Darkness II (360, PC, PS3)
You can pick up a used copy of ‘The Darkness’ for less than $20, and I highly suggest that you do. The game wasn’t as popular or as well received as it should have been, but it had one moment that was agreed upon as somewhat groundbreaking.
During the beginning of the game, you can sit down with your girlfriend and watch ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. The thing that makes this so interesting is that you never have to get up. You can sit and watch the entire movie with her. This one moment, sitting down with your girlfriend to watch a movie, had more emotional content than all the cut-scenes in the world. It wasn’t about what the creators wanted you to see, but what you wanted to see.
I don’t know whether there’s as powerful an instance of story being told through gameplay in ‘The Darkness II’, but I wouldn’t go in expecting it. It sounds like this one has more focus on the action and less on player freedom. Mike Patton is back as the voice of the titular Darkness, so if you’re ‘Faith No More’ obsessed, there’s another reason to give it a go.
RPGs are my foie gras, so I played the ‘Amalur’ demo three times.
I still hate the art design, I dislike the level-up system and the skill trees, I was underwhelmed by the writing and annoyed by the quest types. The combat was good for a ‘Fable’-esque game, but less fun than the FPS style of ‘Skyrim’ and less engaging than the party tactics of ‘Dragon Age.’
The lack of romance was the deal breaker.
I’ll probably wait six months and pick up a used copy for $9.