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Prior to downloading and firing up the Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning demo, I was sitting on the fence. Did I want to buy this outing by 38 Studios or not? I couldn’t decide, especially seeing as I am trying to be somewhat frugal with my money these days.  But an hour or so later, playing the demo, I think I might just have been pushed in one direction. That is to say, I might just be purchasing this role-playing game come February 17th (Out on the 10th in North America).

Like most demos, Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning throws up the obligatory tutorial mission that teaches you the basic mechanics of the game, giving you a little bit of everything to explore what each of the game’s three main classes have to offer. However, unlike most demos, this one doesn’t end at the completion of that tutorial mission. It does something a little different in fact, offering up quite a large area to explore and basically say to you, “You have 45 minutes, do whatever you want in this area”. It was a refreshing change of pace for an RPG demo and allowed me to sink my teeth into the game a little more than the usual.

One of the first things I noticed when I started playing Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning, the game felt very Fable-esque in it’s appearance and the way it played. Which is not a bad thing, because well, I like Fable also. The art of the game looks good, without taking itself too serious in the process. When I came across Praetorian Gnomes, I wasn’t sure what to think. “Aww cute,” and “They look badass for little fellas” came to find. I decided that it was probably best not to call them cute and ruffle their hair (you can’t actually do that) – they seemed a pretty serious and determined bunch.

As I mentioned earlier, the game has three classes which are the traditional RPG combo; warrior, mage and rogue. Each class has their own skill tree that you can level up and you aren’t particularly tied down to any one class. So if you are feeling like being a jack of all trades, master of none, the option exists. Combat is fairly simple too, attacking with your melee button involves pressing the x button, bows with Y and magic requires a combination of right trigger and A/X/Y and B. Leveling up your skills, also gives you the ability to do things like power attacks which are achieved by simply holding down the button in question.

Sneaking for rogues is easy too, requiring but a simple RB press to enter sneak mode. Your enemies will have an eye above their heads that shows you how alert they are to your presence. Blocking and dodging are achieved with the left trigger and direction + B respectively. Finally, defeating opponents charges up your fate meter, which when full, allows you to enter ‘reckoning mode’ making you faster and stronger and able to interact with the threads of fate (read: perform a cool finishing move).

Other traditional RPG elements such as gaining experience and leveling up (as mentioned before) exist, as well as equipment and weapons with a variety of attributes. Heading into the menus, it is easy to see what equipment is better than others, with their attributes being presented plainly and clearly. As far as story and setting goes, the demo didn’t seem to go too much into it, but did so enough that it left me wanting to know about the Amalur setting, which is the desired effect anyway, in my opinion.

In conclusion, Kingdom of Amalur looks set to be one of the more interesting titles of the year and one of the better RPGs. For those who haven’t tried the demo yet, I recommend doing so, as completing the tutorial mission offers up some items for not only the full version of Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning but Mass Effect 3 too.

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