Posted on 20 Oct 2020 by L Coulsen

Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning

The Defence

Developer: KAIKO, Big Huge Games
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Genre: Action, Adventure, Role Playing
Platform: Consoles, PC
Review copy: Yes
Release date: 08 Sep 2020

The Prosecution

Minimum
Recommended
OS: Windows
CPU: Intel Dual Core 2.5 GHz
AMD equivalent
VGA: Nvidia Direct X 10 compatible with 1GB VRAM
AMD equivalent
RAM: 4 GB
HDD: 40 GB
DirectX: 10
Controller: Full
Mod Support: No
VR: No
FOV Slider: No
FPS Lock: 120+
OS: Windows
CPU: Intel quad core 3 GHz
AMD equivalent
VGA: Nvidia DirectX 11 compatible with 2GB VRAM
AMD equivalent
RAM: 8 GB
HDD: 40 GB
DirectX: 11
Controller: Full
Mod Support: No
VR: No
FOV Slider: No
FPS Lock: 120+

The Case

When it first released, almost a decade ago, Kingdoms of Amalur struggled to find its audience. Though received with a generally positive response, the praise from critics and players like struggled to translate into units sold. An all too familiar story, really. One that often ends in tragedy. But sometimes, like this time (hopefully) it all comes up white in the wash. So with a spruced up re-release and a new expansion on the way, can we change our fate and actually come out on top, this time?

The Trial

First things first, let’s just clear up a few misconceptions. This is not a remake. It is the same game that was originally released in 2012. Textures have been sharpened up, some bugfixes thrown in and a little under the hood tweaking to mix it up a little bit. More on that in a moment. I’m honestly baffled why people are still struggling to understand the difference between a remake and a remaster.

So let’s see if I can explain this, once and for all, and get it all straight. A remake is precisely that. You re make something. Think Robocop or The Karate Kid. A remaster, on the other hand…well, think of it like this. We had the Star Wars trilogy on VHS, back in the day, right? Then they put them on DVD and (later) blu-ray. Those are remasters. They take the original film and just make it look prettier. Okay, Star Wars is a bad example, because Lucas kept screwing with them. But you get the idea.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Rekoning is a remaster, then. It’s the original game, effectively unchanged, put out again to try and draw in a new audience, whilst giving existing fans a change to re-experience it with a few new bells and whistles. This is what they advertised, this is what they intended and this is what we got. Going in expecting anything else, then criticising it for not being wha you thought it would be. That’s on you.

Consider yourself told.

What new content we do have, honestly, won’t stand out to you unless you are intimately familiar with the original game. Not until you’re much further in, anyway. It used to be possible to run all the way to the very end of the game, spawn all the enemies at your current level, then go back and level up a bit, whilst they stayed static. Enemy levels are now recalculated each time you enter a zone, with behind the scenes tweaks made to keep them closer to being a challenge appropriate to your progression. You can still over level, but it takes more time to do so.

The other big change is the new difficulty setting, which will absolutely destroy you if you don’t get to grips with the game’s mechanics. Especially blocking and parrying. It took me quite some time to really get to grips with it, because I was able to brute force my way through in the base game. But here? Not on the new difficulty setting. At least, not without literally hundreds of hours of grinding.

The textures have been improved, as previously stated. But again, you’re not going to see a huge difference unless you put them side by side and really get into the nitty-gritty. Though that’s not a bad thing, it was hardly a bad looking game to begin with. Dated in its graphical effects, perhaps. But Amalur always had a very stylised visual presentation. Bright, colourful and lively. And it just looks really nice. So think of the improved texture quality as a nifty little bonus.

Curry night in the North-West is...interesting.

Beyond that, there really isn’t much more to say. If you liked the game before, you’re going to like it just as much now. If you didn’t try it before, there’s never been a better time to jump in and give it a go. It’s a massive game, truly massive, that you can pump literally hundreds of hours into, finding all the cool little side content. It’s hard to say why it didn’t take off like wildfire, first time around, but now we have a second chance. So let’s not make the same mistake again, eh?

There are a few, minor, issues to be aware of. Sometimes your character might load without a body, just arms, legs and a head, which doesn’t really affect anything, but is mildly irritating all the same. Reloading usually fixes that, though. Parrying timing can be a bit flakey, too. Apparently deciding at random whether to work or not. That’s rather more irritating, but not a constant worry.

The Verdict

Beyond that, it’s just a genuinely really good action RPG. Taking a lot of influence from British folklore, for a change, which is especially appealing to me. What with me being from auld Blightly and all. For the price, and with even more content coming soon, what do you have to lose? Other than a huge chunk of your spare time.

Case Review

  • Customisation: You can build and rebuild your character in any way you like.

  • Depth: Amalur has a vibrant history, fleshed out over thousands of years.

  • Length: An absolutely massive game. Great if you like that, daunting if not.

  • Visuals: Nice looking game, though somewhat primitive in its effects.

  • Parry Timing: A bit wonky, but not the worst thing in the world.

4 Score: 4/5
Not a truly great game, but darn tootin' does it come close.

Evidence

  • Controls: Fully customisable and works with most controllers right out of the box. Complex enough to be tweakable to your liking, but simple enough to not be overwhelming.
  • Game Options: A fairly simple range of graphical options and the like, but there's nothing you could really say is 'missing' from the list. It's just simple and to the point.

Appeal

4 Score: 4/5

While I’ve not played nearly as much of Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-reckoning as L, the remaster fixes one of the original releases major flaws: zone and loot leveling. In the original entering a new zone would set the level of its enemies and treasure to your current level so you could exploit this to lower the whole game to a laughably low level. In Re-reckoning the zone level is now set every time you enter the area.

While there doesn’t appear to have been any graphical improvements made – at least none that I could pick out while playing – this version runs smoothly and didn’t run into any crashes or other issues. Gameplay is similarly intact and unaltered and honestly didn’t need updating anyway.

Lastly, we’ve got the promise of an expansion coming later which, for fans of the original at least, is perhaps enough reason to be interested in Re-reckoning but we can’t judge based on what might be in the future. Overall, this remaster does barely more than the minimum but not much needed doing. Kindoms of Amalur is still an excellent game and deserved cult classic that deserves your attention if you somehow missed it when it originally came out.

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