18 April 2013

Kingdom of Amalur First Impressions

Alright, look. This was a game that I wasn't excited for in the least. The writer's a fairly untalented stock fantasy writer, the artist is apparently Todd McFarlane, two people for whom I have little love. The lead designer is the guy who apparently also designed Morrowind and Oblivion, and the worst edition of Paranoia (2nd, sorry guys). And since they marketed it so heavily promoting those guys, I just said, "I'll pass."

Well today I'm giving it a shot, and holy crap does it want me to dislike it.

Look, I'm not an easy guy to impress, I get that. But look at this shit.

That's not me showing off the game's graphics (pretty, but weirdly slick and weightless), that's just me turning the camera around so you can see my character's face. He takes up most of the screen, and when I turn it around to get to actually playing, for some reason the camera is centered on the feet.

See what I mean? I'm not exaggerating- my character takes up a sincerely grotesque amount of my screen. It's weird.

The combat is floaty and it feels like I'm swinging around cardboard. No sense of impact or weight or damage, but if it cranks up later in the game that's fine. I'm willing to give this one a sec.

Destructable crates are passe but make their presence here. Bows and ranged attacks auto-aim and seem to be massively superior to actually hitting things with fists, which is also fine, if a little strange. There's rudimentary stealth, wherein you enter stealth mode and creep around for a while. If you get close to somebody you get to do a very unintentionally silly auto-kill stab thing, which is whatever.

The motion blur is driving me crazy, and my character wants to leap and bound about when I so much as tap A or D, which is really, really annoying. He won't just walk, it's like everything has to be bigger and bolder because LOOK how pretty I am, the game's saying.

I don't think this'll be one that I keep playing on and on, but we'll see. It feels like somebody looked at Fable 1, went "Yes, that's perfect" and then content themselves with just making it prettier instead of actually adding anything cool to the game. But Fable's a rather light-hearted jaunt through a big and pretty world, and I don't know if Amalur has the same spark that Fable had. I guess I'll find out.

One parting note: Is it too much to have your weapon racks actually display the kind of shit that's on them? I want to take the sword and the spear and the bows, not just the single shield and then go "durrrr guess that's it." That's not it, you idiot, take the spear, too, and leave your rusty fucking longsword behind. And HOLY SHIT, why do I have to use the Escape menu to change my equipment? Diablo didn't have you do that. Dungeon Siege didn't either. Fable did, but it was goddamn annoying there, too. Don't make me have to change screens to put on armor, people.

Also: Your shield appears on your arm when you use it, and you put your weapon on your back while blocking for some reason. Did I mention that the camera angles are shit? Sometimes it runs away from me, and I find myself obscured underneath the minimap while the camera helpfully displays a completely inert patch of ground.

And please, why are there roaring spiders? This spider just popped out of the ground, stood there and sorta squeak-roared at me. Spiders don't have vocal chords, and I'm reasonably sure animals aren't interested in trying to intimidate me. It's like the worst monster cliche. Why does every monster stand and roar while I get to watch the cinematic camera pan around it for a sec? IT'S A FUCKING SPIDER, WHO CARES?

This just happened: I killed a troll, and did a quick time event where I SPEARED IT IN THE EYE WITH A LIGHTNING SPEAR THING that apparently I can summon now? But obviously only after I've killed a troll, because otherwise I just have to shoot regular magic or else summon fire out of this staff I got from a chest. Who keeps putting their unlocked chests out where people can see them? Who knows, no time to ask questions, adventurer, you've got to finish the tutorial level!

So far this game is a 5/10, but we'll have to see where it's going. I can only hope it gets better.


  1. Mr. Nick Wright, did you pay any attention, at all, to the fact that this was originally supposed to be an MMORPG and is only single-player because it got derailed at the last second because of deadlines? If you did know this or indeed anything about the game you are supposedly writing a review on, you would realize that the game is just barely complete as is, since the creators had to quickly finish it and sell it when they had planned to have time to improve things with patches as an MMO usually does. Many of your issues with it (like the weapon racks for example) would have been idiotic to have had it been an MMO due to how they are set up and impossible to change at the last second, just for single-player. Also, did you bother to find out anything about the story/lore of the game before writing this slop? (obviously not since you couldn't even get past the tutorial) If you had given half a shit and decided to pay attention to the lore of the game before writing this half-assed review you would already have you explanation for the "lightning spear". Thirdly how many fantasy RPG games don't have a cinematic when you meet a new, particularly dangerous, foe/mini-boss? How many don't leave chests out where people can find them? At the moment I can't think of any, these are integral even necessary parts of the fantasy RPG game mechanic. Who cares if the spider roared? It's also the size of a smartcar are you gonna bitch about that too? This is a FANTASY VIDEO-GAME if you expect things to be true to life you need to stop playing video games, watching movies, reading books, or using what little imagination you have. Finally if you can't a) be bothered to find a program to fix the FOV (because they are out there for every game) and mention which you used, or b) keep track of your character location without the camera being on him every instant of the game, you cannot blame the creators of the game for this it is your own laziness/incompetence that causes these problems not any fault of the creators.

    1. I appreciate your input on my first impressions piece, long delayed though it may be. Normally I don't respond to long and drawn out responses to old articles, but I'll make an exception for you. You seem like the sporting type.

      As for the MMO to singleplayer switcharoo, I honestly couldn't care less. I'm not playing their planned MMO. I'm playing the singleplayer game that they sold in stores and prominently advertised. I don't care if they are going to patch things or add things later, because it didn't happen in the game that I played. I'm judging it based on the game installed on my computer. Glad we cleared that up.

      And no, of course I didn't read about the lore before I played it. Why on earth would I? Or are you suggesting that there is some hidden intricacy to the two or three hours that I played the game that I've somehow missed? I'll admit that I didn't pay the closest attention, but I don't think that it really makes a difference, because I'm willing to give the background and narration and actual non-game elements a pass if the rest of the game makes up for it. I don't think it does, but you know, neither of us seem to have much to say about that, so I'll leave that for later.

      Next, I don't care if other RPGs have cinematics for meeting new enemies, or if other games have open and obvious and stupid chests. They aren't necessary, whether they're featured in other games or not. They're stupid in those games, too, and just because you think they're part of the genre (which they are not) doesn't make a difference. Does it?

      And I obviously care that the spider roared. I talked about it. It indicates to me a certain laziness in the game's design. There is no reason for the spider to roar. It roared because it's an obvious and easy cliche. This intentional choice tells me that the game designers aren't interested in doing things that make sense, or in doing something unique. The spider isn't roaring because it's something interesting for a spider to do (because it was boring), it's because it's boring and overplayed cinematic shorthand. Have you ever noticed that grocery bags in TV and movies have a baguette sticking out of the top? It's so you don't think to yourself "oh man, what's in that bag," you say to yourself, "oh, it's groceries, disregard." It's lazy, but it's fine, because the groceries aren't the point. Do you understand what I'm saying? I will assume you do and continue on.

      Lastly, I'm not interested in looking up external fixes to change the game for me, or excuses for the game's camerawork. Sorry, dude. But I don't see how it's my personal laziness or incompetence that is the problem here, I'm pretty sure it's whoever coded the horrible camera. Is it my fault that the rest of the game is lazy, boring, generic, or bland too, or is that the designer? Questions, questions.

      Anyways, I'm looking forwards to what you have to say about this. If you could break them up into paragraphs next time and refrain from the silly name-calling that'd be great. No reason to get personal about things, you grumpy person. Oh, and let me know if I missed something you wanted to talk about. Thanks in advance!