I was relatively optimistic towards Amalur for a while after hearing about how it's meant to be an Elder Scrolls-ish RPG with ''God of War'' like combat. The trailers enticed me all the more, and even the demo left me feeling cautiously positive. But then... I dunno... after around 5 hours of playing (on Friday... mostly been playing Gears 3 instead) my stomach gradually began to sink as I couldn't help but notice how damn dated this thing is across its entirety.
I mean, I understand they weren't aiming to actually make a new Elder Scrolls, but the world is so terribly static (the taverns in particular are so depressingly inanimate and empty), the character models are so poorly detailed--often paired with equally terrifying and hilarious facial and mid-dialogue animations--you'll often encounter people who look just like your own character (thanks in no small part to the relative simplicity of the character creator and the shallow selection of races--basically two human races and 2 elves), and the ''world'' from what I can tell is basically made up of a lot of pretty corridors with towns in the middle. And some instanced off dungeons.
And your character.. now I don't hold any grudges against silent protagonists (even if they are becoming tougher to tolerate as the years go by), but it's the fact that they don't allow you to birth some sort of personality via the dialogue options you can choose your character to say that I vehemently dislike, which leaves the protagonist as the emptiest of slates with but an occasional blink just to prove that your character is in fact alive during conversations. At least Link actually animates, and games like Dragon Age: Origins had some brilliantly clever/humorous dialogue options for you choose from to build an identity. Your own race doesn't even factor into things either far as I can tell; having some bartender telling me not to worry about the upstairs healer because she's some... dark elf, or whatever stupid name they needlessly conjured up to make their world appear more unique, when I myself am also a dark elf just ripped me out of believing my character was actually somebody rather than just a player avatar.
Oh, and the combat isn't even all that good! It can be pretty satisfying to swing my massive flaming hammer around, but the combat is nowhere near as deep as I was hoping. You can't even bloody jump! Playing on hard mode, the game is also pretty frustrating... because of how easy it is! For a lot of battles, all I quite literally do is smash the square button over and over. Sure, there'll be sub boss battles that provide some opposition, but otherwise against all the random mobs, and even some of the humanoid boss battles who'll flinch after every attack, I can just rest and mash the square button and I'm sorted. Then there's nagging issues like why can I only do special stealth kills with daggers? Or why must my bow take up my second weapon spot when I'm naturally going to want to have a bow equipped anyway. If they really wanted to allow a little more combat puzzazz, they should of given you a third spot solely for a ranged weapon; that way you could have two melee weapon spots to mix up your attacks and not have to sacrifice a ranged weapon--or be forced to continually change your secondary weapon. Oh, and the way your shield just appears is silly, and it specifically irks me because I often like to see my character with his shield equipped too. For a game that's all about making your character look awesome, it's surprising that they passed over the tick box about allowing my character to strut around with a sword 'n' shield like a baws.
The cartoony style I do like, though, as I do the Destiny system - which is probably the only shining beacon of creativity the game showcases. And to be fair, I've only played a small amount thus far... but after looking over the ''moves'' list, there's really not that much else to look forward to as regards to expanding my attack patterns. If the game stays as easy as it has thus far as well then I won't even need to use any ''tactics'' besides ole faithful.
The world is just so bloody boring and it leaves me with little desire to learn more; and these days it also takes just a little more than some ''loot lust'' to push me further--especially when the game's this easy, when a green weapon is already all I need to do the job swiftly.. Frankly, the entire game feels like its sole purpose was to act as the precursor for the MMO; it'll set up the lore and the races and what have you, and then they begin with the real game. I mean seriously, how can a game with this many huge names tagged to the development evidently suffer from what looks have been a fairly low budget?
Maybe the game does hold some surprises down the line, though; maybe it'll eventually rise to be a game I'll at least finish. But as of now, it's left me with a soul crushingly bad first-impression and the mere thought of heading back in doesn't exactly have me tearing with excitement. It's overall shallow, derivative to a frightening degree and something I really wish I hadn't put £38 towards. On the bright side, Gears 3 is pretty fucking awesome. Really dislike the submarine and end boss segments, though. But otherwise, its 5 stars is well deserved.