Sunday, January 29, 2012

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (the Demo)

You know what I miss? Game demos. Back in the early 90s, when I was still in my formative years as a young gamer, entering into the age where my parents would finally trust me enough to let me on their computer for hours at a time to play computer games, I loved demos. I didn't have any real money to speak of, and what I did all went to Magic cards. So I spent a lot of time playing demos. I would either get them from my PCGamer demo disc or download them on my parents' 14.4 bps modem whenever no one was using the phone. It was a great time to be a new gamer. I could see if the game captured my interest long enough for me to at least want to spend money on it. Obviously my budget was limited, but I was able to buy games occasionally. Heck, my budget was so limited that I literally could not afford to buy a game without first playing the demo, to see if I liked it.
Unfortunately, it seems that the practice of giving demos has, by and large, gone by the wayside. Heck, most of the few paltry demos that are put out these days are put out after the game has already been released! What madness is that? (No...  I'm not going to make that joke. You know which one.)
So, suddenly here's this game from EA that I'd never heard anything about called Kingdoms of Amalur. I really hadn't any interest in it, but they were doing this interesting cross-promotional thing with Mass Effect 3 for some free DLC just for playing the demo. I figured: "it's a demo and it's free DLC... Win-win, as far as I'm concerned." So I downloaded it for the free DLC, because I LOVE the Mass Effect series... and I was duly impressed.

So, the story for KoA was written by R.A. Salvatore, who is usually a pretty solid author. The game takes place in a fantasy world called... you guessed it... Amalur. There are several different races, but they are split into two larger groups: the fey and the young races. The fey are mostly your typical immortal elves, and a faction of the Winter Court have slowly been gaining power and for over a hundred years have waged a war of annihilation against the younger, mortal races. The biggest problem is that everything in the world is decided by Fate, the will of the gods. And the Fateweavers, the ones whoa re able to read the strands of Fate are all saying that things are not going to get any better. Sucks to be mortal.
However, this is where you come in. You see, you can change the way things are because you just died.
Wait, what?
Oh, yeah, so, apparently some crazy inventor created a huge machine that traps souls and makes new bodies for them, and you are the first successful specimen. And somehow, because of this, you are now free from Fate's machinations. (Don't worry, these aren't spoilers, you learn almost all of this during or just after the tutorial.) So, if I'm reading this right, that means that you just might be able to stick it to the gods and save the world. So, I guess you could say that I'm digging the story so far. It's a neat blend of tried-and-true save the world stuff mixed with some slightly newer/more unique elements.
As for the game itself... well, it's no exaggeration that it's a mix of The Elder Scrolls, Bioware RPGs, God of War, and World of Warcraft. For the most part it's a blend of all the best parts of those games and I actually quite enjoyed it. You've got a surprisingly large world (even the small part that you get to see in the demo is impressively large) with pretty good RPG elements and surprisingly good combat that looks like, from other preview material I've seen, it's going to get pretty insane at higher levels.
And what's even better, rather than give you just the tutorial and maybe a couple of other quests, they get you just past the tutorial and then give you 45 minutes (not including time spend paused or speaking with NPCs) to explore and play the game however you want. Granted, only to a point, but seriously, there are more quests and places to explore than you can get in a single play-through. The only problem I have is that there are absolutely no saves at all. But hey, it's a demo.

Bottom Line: To be honest, I had no interest in the game at all before playing the demo. Now both my wife and I are considering buying the game. The only problem is that neither of us are willing to shell out $60 bucks for the game; that's just too much. We're not cheap, we're just poor. Still, if it hadn't been for the demo, we wouldn't ever had given the game a second thought. Now we're a semi-committed purchase. And that's why demos exist(ed) in the first place. More companies need to remember that and get on the friggin' bandwagon already. Anyway... if you haven't tried the KoA demo out yet, go ahead and try it... you might like it.

No comments:

Post a Comment