The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of the Kingdoms of Amalur Demo

If you are even the tiniest bit excited about the Mass Effect 3 release coming March 6, Google would’ve notified you of the demo crossover deal that ME3 shares with Kingdoms of Amalur. Playing the KoA demo earns you a special armor for Shepherd, as well as a Xena-riffic chakram shooter for completion. You can load the demo via Origin or Steam for PC, though be warned, Steam servers are taking some heavy hitting. Same with the KoA website. Oh yeah, and it’s also available on 360 and PS3, if you prefer console gaming.

The KoA demo limits you to 45 minutes of gameplay (not including dialogue exploration or inventory fiddling) after you pass the initial tutorial section. The following is a quick rundown of what I’ve seen so far.

The Good:

  • voice acting
  • quest depth
  • world creation
  • soundtrack
  • unique, fast-paced combat (really great system; a magnificent possibility for what Fable could’ve been)
  • lockpicking! (ty Elder Scrolls influence)
  • looting system allows auto-equip or auto-junk
  • The basic “hobbies” or side talents are available: Blacksmithing, Alchemy, and Sagecrafting (aka Jewelcrafting), etc.

The Bad:

The green option on the speech wheel was made possible by investing talent points in persuasion.

  • The “speech wheel” for multiple speech options is similar to Mass Effect’s, but the responses are not as witty or dynamic. Your character is silent. No voice actor there.
  • a weak imitation of Skyrim (and no wonder, the lead designer also happens to be Ken Rolston) – while this isn’t necessarily bad, I’d prefer Skyrim for the same-ish price
  • character customization is rather limited (we’ll see if more options are available in the full version)
  • several glitches, especially while looting

The Ugly:

  • mediocre graphics (I feel like I’m playing WoW, in slow motion)
  • text typography is dated and somewhat clunky
  • limited faces and the bodies: I’m walking through a village of neutered Barbie and Ken dolls, all exactly the same frame; dwarves are different, but also don’t really vary

A few other thoughts:

  • The melee doesn’t seem as effective as ranged attacks. Maybe it’s just the stat balance this early in the game.
  • Casters and rogues have a more flashy, satisfying combat style. I regret planning a warrior/tank character. Sneaking is just so much more fun and gutting your enemies with swift dagger attacks is dandy.

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KT is an avid foodie/gamer/SFF reader with expertise in a variety of bizarre fields. Her love for technology, science, and internet media is only matched by her fondness for music, language and art. Karen is an aspiring writer with a meandering past. Her law and engineering books make wonderful counterweights to her fiction collections. She hopes to one day publish a novel, most likely in the young adult genre, but the future is an open book.

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