Four In February — “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning”

It has been a week since I announced my participation in the time-honored video game tradition of Four In February.

I may have bit off more than I can chew.

At 29 hours of gameplay, the oft-overlooked action-RPG Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is far from the longest game I have ever finished. But that is only because at a certain point I remembered to look at the calendar.

“If you are ever going to finish this in time for your other three games,” I said to myself, “Maybe you’ll have to skip four or five hundred side quests.”

Indeed, players and the developers of Amalur alike have reported that a total completionist playthrough will run you well over 200 hours.

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Pictured: About an hour or so.

So based on that, the fact that I took out the main quest storyline, two faction storylines, and countless side quests and tasks in under 30 hours feels like I got a good feel for this one.

Released in 2012 for PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning caused more than a little bit of nerd drooling. With a story by nerd-lit legend R.A. Salvatore, artwork by Spawn creator Todd McFarlane, and game design by Oblivion‘s Ken Rolston, this was just the sort of over-the-top fantasy epic that could redefine the genre.

The results were less than godlike, though more than admirable.

If you ignore the controversies behind online passes and the drained coffers of state funding, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a blast to play, if a little generic. With it’s beat-em-up sensibilities and intricate advancement system, it feels like the game Peter Molyneaux wanted the Fable series to be. It’s huge and sprawling, and one barely makes a single sigh of surprise when one finds out that it was originally developed to be an MMORPG. The world is pretty, in a “smear Vaseline on the camera lens” sort of way, and the Grant Kirkhope penned musical score is appropriately epic and gorgeous.

And while I’m genuinely pleased that I finally got around to playing this one, I can’t help but understand why it didn’t get its due in 2012. While Rolston’s design is engaging and fun, it’s really just a reskin of Fable, which is really just an elaborate reskin of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Salvatore’s storyline is, upon initial inspection, an interesting take on the idea of fate and destiny. But when you get to the core of it, it’s just another “You’re The Chosen One” story. And Todd McFarlane is… well… Todd McFarlane.

mcfarlane

Oh, you know what the fuck I’m talking about.

It’s a game that is easy to burn a lot of time on, and absolutely worth playing. But it hasn’t rewritten Citizen Kane. And knowing that 38 Studios burned through $133 million to get what amounts to “more fun than Fable“, you can’t help but wonder what they were thinking. It’s tragic, really: when a studio names their game something as wordy as Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, you know that they were expecting a hell of a lot more from this franchise than they actually got. But overall, I found it to be an engaging, fun RPG: something that anyone who likes arcade style slashing combined with lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of side quests should get their money’s worth out of.

Onward, into February! Three more games to finally finish! For those just joining me, I have also engraved my promise ring with the following: Psychonauts, Recettear, and Dead Space.

Gonna be an eventful February!

What games are you playing for Four In February?? Comment below or just establish your bragging rights on #4iF. Join the Conquistadorklings for more updates!

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