Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

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Postby grommyfrog » Sun Jan 29, 2012 8:18 pm

Macrocephalus wrote:
I also find it kind of odd that renting never seems to come up in press and developer discussions about passes. Since people who rent a game on day one are, effectively, responsible for the sale of a full copy of the game, and people who rent it later on down the line obviously weren't interested enough to be potential day one retail customers in the first place, it seems to me that developers shouldn't be counting renting as a negative even in the sort of blinkered, short-term analysis that leads to all these online passes. After all, lots of day-one renters wouldn't have bought the game anyway, but they're still moving retail copies, and some use renting as a try-before-you-buy system. But the larger the fraction of a game that gets locked behind a pass paywall, the less likely I'd think people will be to rent it.


I would love to see the invoice totals for Red Box and GameFly. They must place orders nearly as large as Best Buy or Amazon's initial shipments.

I dropped KoA from my Queue. Online Pass and plenty of other games to play have put it on my "Get it on sale" list. I'm going to read the reviews and wait for a gaming lull.
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Postby Bakken Hood » Sun Jan 29, 2012 10:45 pm

And the folks that rent it two years later won't get too upset (or shouldn't) that they're missing out on whatever the online pass offers, even if it is on the disc. That's precisely why I grudgingly approve of this system; you get what you pay for. When I get around to playing Arkham City (and I'll get it used on Goozex), I doubt I'll pay for the Catwoman stuff unless AC impresses me a lot more than AA did. If I do like it enough to reconsider, I'll happily pony up the ten bucks. Goozex keeps things cheap enough I can afford it. I would have bought the Shale DLC for DA Origins if it hadn't been so damn overpriced; I fully expect supply and demand to punish the developers who gouge on the new-buy bonuses like that. On the other hand, EA doesn't seem to be suffering for the Battlefield 3 online pass, which actually does cripple used copies of the game, so maybe my optimism is misguided. In any case, I'm sticking to my guns and saying I'm okay with this.
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Postby coldphirre » Mon Jan 30, 2012 1:17 am

Macrocephalus wrote:I also find it kind of odd that renting never seems to come up in press and developer discussions about passes. Since people who rent a game on day one are, effectively, responsible for the sale of a full copy of the game, and people who rent it later on down the line obviously weren't interested enough to be potential day one retail customers in the first place, it seems to me that developers shouldn't be counting renting as a negative even in the sort of blinkered, short-term analysis that leads to all these online passes. After all, lots of day-one renters wouldn't have bought the game anyway, but they're still moving retail copies, and some use renting as a try-before-you-buy system. But the larger the fraction of a game that gets locked behind a pass paywall, the less likely I'd think people will be to rent it.


i think the problem is that publishers/developers are still trying to find ways around the first sale doctrine to this day, and with the advent of dlc this console generation, they've figured out a few methods to make money off every subsequent transfer/rental of the original copies. i'm sure at some point gamers will realize they are essentially being sold a game piecemeal, but when that point is and whether there will still be people willing to accept it is another matter.

i'm still going to rent the game, but i had actually planned on buying it from gamefly once i had a good taste of it (the demo didn't work for me). hearing about the online pass/dlc/whatever only available with new copies ensured it will never be anything more than a rental for me.

grommyfrog wrote: I'm going to read the reviews and wait for a gaming lull.

are there any games in the immediate future? i'm in a lull til ME3 (maybe syndicate?) as it is!
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Postby grommyfrog » Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:46 am

coldphirre wrote:
grommyfrog wrote: I'm going to read the reviews and wait for a gaming lull.

are there any games in the immediate future? i'm in a lull til ME3 (maybe syndicate?) as it is!


The Darkness 2 is out on the 7th. I'm trying to decide between The Syndicate and Twisted Metal later in February.

I've also got the Gears Trilogy, Halo: Reach, Fable 3, Metro 2033 and Left 4 Dead 2 sitting here. I need to play Halo 3 to find out what happened since I last visited Halo-land in 2004.
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Postby coldphirre » Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:59 am

ah. i forgot about your foray into the dark side! :lol: i've almost forgotten what it's like having games to play. the ME3 demo should tide me over until amalur.

back on topic, i'm surprised most comparisons (here and on other gaming sites) are about skyrim and rpgs that aren't WoW. the bits of the demo that worked for me basically felt like a single player version of WoW. the graphics and weapons look exactly the same, and i half expected the dwarf/gnome people to flee the lab on their little mechanical mounts. :lol:
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Postby justabaldguy » Tue Feb 07, 2012 9:40 am

Kingdoms got a 5/5 from Joystiq. Very interesting, nothing but good things said. Still interested, still broke, still waiting for more reviews and a price drop. :D
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Postby BigBadBob113 » Tue Feb 07, 2012 10:30 am

justabaldguy wrote:Kingdoms got a 5/5 from Joystiq. Very interesting, nothing but good things said. Still interested, still broke, still waiting for more reviews and a price drop. :D


It's definitely been getting some pretty sweet reviews...more than I anticipated. Hopefully my copy from Gamefly arrives tomorrow...I'm looking forward to checking out this awesome RPG for myself.
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Postby Raines » Tue Feb 07, 2012 12:23 pm

My copy should arrive today, along with the Turtle Beach X12 headphones I ordered.
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Postby justabaldguy » Tue Feb 07, 2012 5:45 pm

Raines wrote:My copy should arrive today, along with the Turtle Beach X12 headphones I ordered.
Gonna need a favor from you Russ. Play this game for the next 24-48 hours straight. Report back all finding at 6 hour intervals.

;)

:lol: :lol:
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Postby Raines » Tue Feb 07, 2012 6:50 pm

justabaldguy wrote:Gonna need a favor from you Russ. Play this game for the next 24-48 hours straight. Report back all finding at 6 hour intervals.

;)

:lol: :lol:

Uh huh. I've put in a few hours so far, and the full game is indeed much more stable than the demo. Big Huge Games recommends installing the Xbox version, and I'd have to agree. Load times fly by with HDD installation. Crazy amounts of loot to find everywhere, the most flexible character building I've seen in any RPG, and the combat is always fast-paced and does require strategy. If you just button mash, you're gonna die, a lot. Enemies love to surround and gang up on you. They're pretty smart actually. Friendly AI is another story: always getting in the way, but not so much as to disrupt the fun. The role-playing mechanics are there right along with the gameplay. Amalur is what the whole Fable series should've been. There's quite a few mixed reviews out there for this game, but play it for yourself and decide.
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Postby Bakken Hood » Tue Feb 07, 2012 7:55 pm

*sigh*
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Postby Macrocephalus » Tue Feb 07, 2012 8:45 pm

Raines wrote:Uh huh. I've put in a few hours so far, and the full game is indeed much more stable than the demo. Big Huge Games recommends installing the Xbox version, and I'd have to agree. Load times fly by with HDD installation. Crazy amounts of loot to find everywhere, the most flexible character building I've seen in any RPG, and the combat is always fast-paced and does require strategy. If you just button mash, you're gonna die, a lot. Enemies love to surround and gang up on you. They're pretty smart actually. Friendly AI is another story: always getting in the way, but not so much as to disrupt the fun. The role-playing mechanics are there right along with the gameplay. Amalur is what the whole Fable series should've been. There's quite a few mixed reviews out there for this game, but play it for yourself and decide.


Ars Technica's review said that the gameplay mechanics are really good but the story and world are boring and the main characters unengaging and unsympathetic. Any truth to that in your opinion?
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Postby Raines » Tue Feb 07, 2012 10:11 pm

Macrocephalus wrote:Ars Technica's review said that the gameplay mechanics are really good but the story and world are boring and the main characters unengaging and unsympathetic. Any truth to that in your opinion?

It's hard to say at this point. I haven't followed the main story enough yet to give an informed opinion. Everywhere I go there's side quests to complete, so I keep doing those. At the moment I'm doing the House of Ballads faction quest, and so far it's pretty interesting. Even if the main story turns out to be kinda dull, the gameplay really makes KoA shine.
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Postby justabaldguy » Wed Feb 08, 2012 2:30 pm

Macrocephalus wrote:Ars Technica's review said that the gameplay mechanics are really good but the story and world are boring and the main characters unengaging and unsympathetic. Any truth to that in your opinion?
That's almost exactly what GameSpot said. For my brief time in the demo, it did seem a bit uninspired. Find a wounded guy on the ground? Maybe you can run off and find a cure. See a lady looking sad? Maybe you can go retrieve her "lost" husband (spoiler: he doesn't want to come back. They never do.). Tons of folks to speak with, and too many to remember.

I don't know what I was expecting, but at least in Fallout I felt like I was really looking at living areas full of potential treasure to loot. Skyrim didn't offer this too much, but some of the castles in Dragon Age looked neat. I guess I want more than just "go here, kill X amount of Ys" in a quest.

That said, I'm hoping to see a price drop here before too long. I could see picking this up on down the line for $40 or so.
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Postby Raines » Wed Feb 08, 2012 6:15 pm

After spending all night last night playing, I love it despite the issues.
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Postby BigBadBob113 » Wed Feb 08, 2012 6:26 pm

I've put about three hours in so far, and I'm liking what I see. The combat is button-mashing fun so I'm happy with that and there seems to be plenty of quests right away, as well as at least one guild/faction that I've come across. I didn't realize it would be so in-depth with crafting of items and potions and all that other good stuff. Still a lot to be seen, but so far I'm pretty happy with this as a rental. If it gets really good and I'm still far off after putting a good amount of time in, I'll ship it back to Gamefly and pick it up after my birthday.
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Postby Macrocephalus » Wed Feb 08, 2012 8:41 pm

My first impressions:

My god this game is butt-ugly! Seriously. It looks like dog vomit — and not even something any self-respecting dog would chuck up. It's horrible all over, but the single most dramatic example is the onscreen text, which looks like something from the 90s. Especially when you're talking dialogue options that you've already pursued, which get ghosted or dimmed or something by being smeared out, blurred and pixelated. Absolutely hideous.

The combat is lots of fun so far. Beats the pants off the combat in both Elder Scrolls games I've played (Oblivion and Skyrim) so much so that going back to Skyrim when the 1.4 patch finally drops for consoles will be a serious letdown, and I'm starting to wonder whether I'll wind up bailing on it despite its other strengths. There are different moves, timing is important, you take damage even when you're holding up your shield so you can't just turtle up indefinitely, enemies have a variety of attack patterns… I don't know how much variety the game will offer as time goes on and I get deeper into it, but so far, it's really good. It doesn't hold a candle to the fighting in a top-tier action game like God of War, but for a deep, stat-heavy open-world RPG, it's outstanding, even revelatory.

The RPG elements seem deep and enjoyable. I haven't tried respeccing my character yet, but if it's all its cracked up to be, it'll take away a huge annoyance from Skyrim — being locked into choices you're forced to make without understanding the consequences. Crafting looks great. Alchemy seems about like it is in Skyrim, except that until you level up your alchemy skill to some degree I don't yet know you're going to fail a lot of the time trying to harvest plants, which sucks, since it means you spend a significant amount of time effectively doing nothing. But in general, these elements seem very familiar and plenty deep but have the huge advantage of the respeccing system, which should let you experiment freely. I only wish I could respec my mage in Skyrim into a swordsman now that I've discovered how gimped magic is in Skyrim compared to how it was in Oblivion!

The story… ehh, well, it's too early to tell for sure, but they definitely muffed the beginning. I don't give a crap about what's going on, but people sure do talk and talk and talk and talk a blue streak. Even though the voice acting has been solid so far, I've taken to skipping a lot of the line readings just to get to the next bit of text and work my way through conversation trees faster. Not a good sign. I'm inclined to give credence to the reviews which criticized the game's storytelling, but I won't know for sure for awhile.

I do have some issues with the camera, though. Sometimes it seems to resist getting moving a bit, and it has too much momentum. It also swoops around of its own volition while you're moving around, and since enemy target selection is entirely — but loosely — determined by where the camera is pointing, this means that your enemy target selection is constantly changing randomly. This is irritating.

I also wish the developers had taken care of one of my age-old pet peeves with RPGs that have inventory management — I pick up some fresh lockpicks to join my collection, and suddenly the 'Miscellaneous' category if my inventory is starred to indicate that there's new stuff there. But I don't frickin need a star to tell me that I just increased my supply of lockpicks from 21 to 24! Use the stars for indicating that I have something I didn't have before — a new shard, a new sword, whatever — but don't make me waste my time scrolling through my inventory just to de-star is because I incremented my supply of a particular item that I already had in abundance.

And speaking of lockpicks… they lifted the lockpicking mini-game from Bethesda and decided that it didn't suck enough, so they did two things to make it even worse. They made the speed at which you move the lock increase even more rapidly so that you get less warning when you're about to bust a pick even if you're using the lightest pressure possible. And they gave the lock momentum, so even if you feel the pick start to vibrate and you let go, it might still be too late because it'll keep moving a bit and snap the pick. Thank you so, so much for that, Curt Schilling.

Once I've logged more time with the game, I'll post some more impressions, but at this point, I think it's safe to say I like it a fair bit despite the annoyances. Dunno yet whether I'll wind up loving it or getting bored, but my guess is that it'll be the former.
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Postby Raines » Wed Feb 08, 2012 9:45 pm

The lockpicking mechanic does kinda suck, but I have so many now it doesn't really matter. As for the graphics, they could've been better, but if that's what it takes to have a more technically stable game (looking at you Skyrim), then I'm fine with it. I like the more colorful visuals. I don't see Todd McFarlane's influence anywhere though. It should be noted, I played for hours last night, and not one lockup or game-breaking glitch. The only real technical issues I see are pop-up and bad lip synching.

I love the game because it's simple to play, yet has depth to it. The combat highlights the game better than any other aspect really. You have to put in a few hours before you can really appreciate what it brings to the table. After playing KoA, I'm not sure I'd go back to Skyrim. Here's why:

1. Combat - No contest here. Fast-paced, responsive, and lots of room to experiment.

2. Visuals - I actually prefer the bright colors & style of Amalur vs the more realistic Skyrim. The textures and detail are far greater in Skyrim, but there's something to be said for the more animated take.

3. Stability - Unlike Skyrim and other Bethesda RPGs, you don't have that chugging framerate in KoA. I really haven't noticed any slowdown, even when there's a lot going on on-screen. And like I said before, I haven't had a single lock-up.

4. Flexibility - Don't like playing a mage? Pay some gold and you can rebuild your character anytime. Grinding out skills in Bethesda RPGs keeps me away from adventuring. And I'm not stuck playing a class that I decide I don't like hours into the game.

5. Loot - And lots of it! And It's actually useful! And merchants have unlimited gold so I can sell the junk!

There are some quirks and oddities to the game, like you can rob people blind if you're not seen, but if you stealth kill an NPC, no matter what, you'll have a crime bounty on your head. Blacksmithing feels as broken in KoA as it does in Skyrim. With the right materials, you can basically make The Sword of 1,000 Truths early on. I made a sword that sets enemies on fire and has a bleed effect, and I've been using it since almost the beginning. I also made my own armor that's better than what merchants have. Oh well, not every RPG can be perfect.
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Postby coldphirre » Thu Feb 09, 2012 3:07 am

Raines wrote:And merchants have unlimited gold so I can sell the junk!

that alone makes it better than skyrim/fallout in my book. i almost forgot what it was like not having to run around to different vendors playing the junk-selling minigame.

Macrocephalus wrote:Even though the voice acting has been solid so far, I've taken to skipping a lot of the line readings just to get to the next bit of text and work my way through conversation trees faster.

aside from the opening sequence, i haven't heard a full line of dialogue. just tell me what to kill and where to kill it!


the loot aspect definitely has its appeal and the combat is entertaining, but i can't get over the fact the game is essentially a single player version of WoW. i think it may be that there are simply too many quests, 99% of which are the mindless filler quests of "kill X chickens here". the only difference between the games seems to be that the chickens are much further from the quest giver in KoA, and you run into other quest givers along the way, who also have chickens that need to be killed, but in an equally distant location. i can definitely see why some reviewers felt no connection to the story.
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Postby Macrocephalus » Thu Feb 09, 2012 9:08 am

Raines wrote:5. Loot - And lots of it! And It's actually useful! And merchants have unlimited gold so I can sell the junk!


Yeah, that's a good point. The limited amount of gold vendors have in Skyrim may enhance the game's sense of realism, but it winds up doing so in a way that's pure pain-in-the-ass. Running around from vendor to vendor to vendor to vendor just to sell off all your crap is nothing but busywork.

As to the visuals, it's not that I mind the visual concept of the game. I love the way Skyrim looks (except where its enhanced visuals lapse) but bright colors and cartoony graphics are fine by me too… in theory. It's just that Amalur looks like a PS2 game that got the HD treatment. Yeah, PS2 games couldn't have done open-world environments like this and Amalur's draw distance is greater, but in terms of texture resolution and the number of polygons used for characters and the rest of the world… yikes. And I hate when traps are hidden by muddy crap graphics instead of by, you know, skilled trap placers.

I heard that the Amalur project actually started life as an MMO for which the devs developed their own engine, and that's exactly what it looks like — an MMO that got turned into a single-player game at the last minute. From time to time I can see where they were going for something beautiful and the engine just couldn't come close, and once in a blue moon there's something that's actually nice to look at almost in spite of itself, but in general, it just looks like donkey dung, and I can see that getting really tiresome after awhile. For the sequel, I really, really hope they ditch the engine and build or license a better one.

Coldphirre wrote:but i can't get over the fact the game is essentially a single player version of WoW. i think it may be that there are simply too many quests, 99% of which are the mindless filler quests of "kill X chickens here". the only difference between the games seems to be that the chickens are much further from the quest giver in KoA, and you run into other quest givers along the way, who also have chickens that need to be killed, but in an equally distant location. i can definitely see why some reviewers felt no connection to the story.


Yeah, you nailed this perfectly. The only quest I've done so far that actually interested me in and of itself was the, ah, cursed wolf one, and that still amounted to nothing more than "go here, kill X chickens, go there, kill Y chickens, steal their eggs". The only thing that distinguished it was that the character and voice work were outstanding and very different from the rest. Everything else has been worthwhile only insofar as the combat and looting and leveling-up have been fun. To be fair, those things have been lots and lots of fun, not just a little… but I'm not confident that a great combat system and fun non-quest RPG elements can sustain a game all by themselves for 1-300 hours.
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