Update Feb 7, 2012: I have pre-ordered the game and have started playing since last evening at eleven. The graphics display is so much better than the demo version. I use a game pad (Xbox Controller) on a PC version. All the clumsiness of the keyboard and mouse control has gone! Yes, use a game pad to play this game. And if you are put off buy the demo quality, I am happy to say that the full game version is so much better.
I have not heard of Reckoning until recently, when the media starts to pick up on this upcoming western role playing game. Some label this as one of the most anticipated games in 2012. Wow, really? So I gave the demo a try. Now, before I get into that, here is a little background for you. Lead designer of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Ken Rolston is the executive designer of Reckoning. Fantasy author R.A. Salvatore writes the lore and Todd McFarlane, creator of Spawn, creates the artwork. In 2009, THQ sold Big Huge Game – the then developer of this game – to 38 Studios, which is owned by former baseball pitcher Curt Schilling. And EA Game is the publisher for Reckoning. I think so far so good except the last bit. I am not a fan of EA Game (recently broke the $1 billion mark in 2011 by the way). While I am pretty sure EA Game will destroy any sequel Kingdoms of Amalur may have – as how they destroy the Dragon Age franchise and more – let’s enjoy Reckoning while it lasts.
Reckoning is a vast open world western role playing game with an engaging combat system. It plays almost like a hybrid of Oblivion and God of War. Because the executive designer comes from The Elder Scrolls, Reckoning has a distinct Oblivion feel. I have not played Skyrim. Reckoning appears to have fixed a lot of annoyance I found in Oblivion. I don’t need to keep jumping or walking in stealth in order to gain level. Lock picking seems less frustrating. Spell casting and melee fight appears to be more seamless. It is so much easier to target, execute the moves in arcade style, dodge out of the danger, and continue to hack and slash, mixing magic with brutal melee attacks. And the dialogues? They have brought in the experts from Dragon Age team to help. Hence the strong resemblance. Although I must say, try not to expect the same level of cause-and-effect as it is in the Mass Effect universe.
There are four playable races. Two look like human race while the other two look like elves. You don’t get to pick a class, but rather you may specialize into might, finesse, and sorcery abilities. That roughly maps to a warrior class, a rogue class, and a wizard class. You can also have a hybrid of two, or even three. According to the interviews I have read so far, hybrid classes are totally viable. And you get to reset your choices in-game, if you so wish to. In another word, you don’t have to get stuck with a character development that you may have regretted.
Specializing into finesse can be very satisfying. As a rogue like class, you can eliminate your enemy with one-shot (that comes with decent animation). I have also tried a wizard like class. For these sort of games, I often find it hard to survive as a magic player. Reckoning‘s combat system makes it somewhat easier. But I still prefer a strong melee warrior type of character. I am just not too good at button mashing.
This game will be available on Feb 7 for the three gaming platforms. I feel that the game play may flavor the use of a controller, rather than keyboard and mouse. I have tried the PC demo. It does require my fingers to be quite acrobatically agile. To sprint, I need to toggle the left control key while performing the traditional WAD mashing. To execute the reckoning nuke move, I need to press and hold the X key while moving around and mashing both the keyboard and the mouse. There is no jumping in Reckoning (boo?). Pressing space bar enables your character to dodge at a direction you desire (yes, more button mashing). Some dislike the menu system. It does require quite a few clicks to get to where I want and quite a few ESC buttons to get back to the game. Because of the traditional inventory management system like any good old role player game has, I tend to visit the menu quite often to equip items during game play. I wish they could streamline how items can be equipped rather than the need to click through different categories in order to equip them.
I have played the demo twice. The game is certainly growing on me. The lore seems interesting and the encounters are refreshing. According to the developers, if you are to play Reckoning on easy mode skipping all the dialogues, it will take you 200 hours to complete all the quests. This is one very lengthy game, be warned!
- Click here to view in-game images (with captions).
If you find the demo unplayable, you are not the only one. EA Game has sent the 3 months old code (prior to reaching gold standard) to a third party to package into a demo version. The result is a disaster. This is so typical of EA Game of course. On one end of the spectrum, we have games like Diablo III whereby the demo or beta is almost flawless. The game takes forever to be released. On the other end of the spectrum, we have Reckoning whereby the demo is so broken that it leaves many on the fence. Shall I pre-order or shall I not? Ken Rolston is right about one thing though. EA Game does generate the buzz as promise. I hope it is a good buzz. If you have time, you may wish to read Curt Schilling’s sincere apology. That post moves me. According to one official game reviewer, the game in its released form plays smoothly, with no issue. So it could well be the demo’s poor quality and not the full game. Back to the PC demo, if you have a black screen problem (like I did), go to video setting and disable the post-processing option. If you are unable to connect to EA server and claim your bonus items should you buy a full game, open the personal.ini file located in your document directory, wipe away the “blaze_email” entry, and restart the demo. This should solve your problem.
PS. Reckoning is the title of the last episode of Legend of the Seeker season one. In that episode, the Seeker’s eyes send out beams of light, just like in this game. And in this game, the destiny card for a character that generalizes into three abilities is coincidentally called the “Seeker”.