The Demo for EA’s upcoming fantasy game, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, is available on Origin right now. Slated to be released next month for PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360,  Kingdoms of Amalur is a single-player role-playing game from publisher/developer 38 Studios.

I had a chance to play through the demo this morning, and overall I liked what I saw. Here are some of my observations about the game’s potential.

Pros

First, let’s discuss the pros. The game has a dark, gritty feel which I love. Add to this the fact that your character has literally been resurrected from the dead under mysterious circumstances and this is a pretty cool way to set up the game. You begin as an adventurer with minimal skills and armour, but the game provides a lot of customization options so you can achieve the right ‘feel’ for your character. There are four races to choose from, and each provides specific bonuses in areas like persuasion, mercantile, stealth, alchemy and blacksmithing.

A rather detailed inventory screen is accessed by pressing ESC. Here, you can equip items, keep track of quests, as well as watch demos which teach you various combos for combat. I could see these being really helpful later on in the game, once you are able to acquire more weapons.

The game progression is simple, and revolves around the completion of ‘quests,’ similar to World of Warcraft. Unlike Warcraft, however, it seems there isn’t a lot of freedom to explore areas outside of the main story, although free play may be more of a focus in the full version of the game. The demo focuses mostly on teaching you the controls, the basics of combat with a variety of different weapons, and provides enough details about the game’s storyline to keep you wanting more.

Cons

Now to the cons. At times, I found the controls too sensitive. When you change views by moving the mouse, the screen took a second to refocus on my character, and this became distracting pretty quickly. I could also see the large number of combos which are used in combat being difficult to master. At the very least, they would require a lot more practice than what is available in the demo.

I love that you are able to dodge enemies during combat– so many RPGs are lacking this feature– but you really do need to pay attention to your surroundings because you are obligated to decide the direction you are dodging in.

Conclusion

The game doesn’t vary much from the tried-and-true standard, but the integration of dynamic combat techniques and what looks like a pretty detailed class progression has the potential to make this game stand out amongst other RPGs.

Despite some issues with gameplay, Kingdoms of Amalur looks promising and I am definitely interested in trying out the full version of the game.

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