Why I Have no Interest in Kindoms of Amalur

Kingdoms of Amalur is being released this Tuesday and is getting quite a bit of buzz from the gaming community and from reviewers. It is a large scale action RPG with gaming lore penned by fantasy novelist R.A. Salvatore. I played the demo when it was released because I wanted the Mass Effect 3 stuff that came from playing it, but I left the game as thoroughly unimpressed as I could be for a big budget, objectively good game. So today I figured I would take you through the reasons I have no interest in purchasing this game in the near future.



As generic as the come



1.) The Story
They say the game’s lore was penned by famed fantasy writer R.A. Salvatore as if it’s a good thing, and I’m sure to many fantasy fans, it is. Unfortunately, for me this is a major negative. When I was young I was very involved in fantasy novels, but I ended up being disillusioned with the genre just because of its total dependance on the same generic mythos, usually entirely stolen from Tokien’s Lord of the Rings. What did I see in the demo I played? I saw the biggest Lord of the Rings ripoff that I’ve ever seen in my life, and that includes actual Lord of the Rings games. So yes, this game has the same generic lore that you’ll see in any fantasy book, and yes, you can pretend to be Aragorn, but the fact of the matter is that I cannot stomach all of the overblown fantasy tropes. The game’s story probably took a lot of effort to write and think up, but the sheer fact it puts itself so deeply in the Lord of the Rings ripoff category makes me feel like it is exceptionally lazy. This isn’t to say I can’t enjoy a good fantasy game, but it has to try a little bit harder at hiding how generic it is. Adding to the generic story are the generic graphics which are nothing more than upgraded World of Warcraft graphics, which is again lazy.
Frodo knows what I’m talking about
2.) Your Character
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I hate mute characters. I know that everyone just wants the player to be the character they create and think up their own backstory and mythos for them and everyone will exist in a magical land of wonder and make believe, but that is total bullshit. Do you know what making a mute character means? It means that your character can never interact in any meaningful way with any other character in the game, or really make any impact on the overall story. This usually relegates your character to being a fetch hound for the various characters who actually have personality and being told how special they are in the most generic way possible. In the demo alone, you are constantly praised and told how goddamn special you are, but of course that is the only way they can acknowledge that your character exists. Your character can never rally people behind them, make friends or enemies, or do anything outside of the lofty backstory you’ve made up in your own head. It is the laziest game making trope in existance and I gave a standing applause to both Mass Effect and Dragon Age 2 for abandoning this garbage western RPG trope (Yes it exists in JRPGs too, but I’m making a point).
This is my archer. He grew up on the plains of Lothlarien and learned to use a bow under his friend and lover, the legendary heroine Tala Minos. She was killed in front of him by the Fey and he set out to avenge her before he died at the beginning of the game. Now he doesn’t say anything outside of preprogrammed questions and has the personality of a dead rock…. yes a goddamned dead one!
3.) Gameplay
First I’m going to praise the game for the only thing I thought was well done: the leveling system. It seemed that there were many ways to upgrade and improve your character and that the amount of player choice would change how each playthrough was subsequently played. Now for the bad: the gameplay is as generic as the story. This couldn’t be a more generic action RPG if it put on the generic action RPG sign and did the “I’m a generic action RPG” dance on national television. It’s the same one button for melee, one button for ranged, and hotkeys for skills that you see over and over again. Add in the fact that dispatching enemies is about as fun as a colonoscopy and you have a really crappy gameplay system. Yes I am basing my opinions on what I played on the demo and the combat could open up and become much deeper, but that isn’t my fault. If the developers wanted to show off how good their combat was they should have included it in the demo.
A troll in a cave? I’ve never seen that before.
Let me tell you straight that I think that Kindoms of Amalur is a quality game worth buying. The reviews are excellent and it doesn’t have any objective problems. My problems are subjective and if you can deal with them then you’ll enjoy it. That being said, we are in the middle of the March rush of game releases and there is no way that Kingdom of Amalur even comes close to making it on my schedule. Maybe in the future during a Summer lull when it is cheap, but right now I don’t see much reason to buy it.
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