You, sir, are an asshole….
As we all know, I’m an opinionated prat, and while I do try to view something from every possible angle before forming an opinion about it, I tend to not waver from it once it’s established. Despite this statement, there are exceptions, and I’ve just come across one recently that slightly negates some recent diatribes of mine when discussing a certain subject with friends. Allow me to explain.
Many of my friends, for quite a few months now, have been going on and on about the glories of Bethesda’s latest “masterpiece”, Skyrim. This is a game that, despite many awful bugs, even some game breaking ones, received plenty of very high scores from reviewers, even a few perfect scores. I’m not gonna sit here and say that this is the main reason it turned me off, but it was a good start.
For a game to be worthy of such insanely high praise, I expect it to be incredibly refined. The kind of game that, even if the odd glitch exists, it’s so minor that it doesn’t affect gameplay or make the game appear ‘buggy’ whatsoever. I personally don’t care how ‘pretty’ a game is, or how much content it has in it (Skyrim has about 800 hrs of playable content), if your shit is really buggy out of the gates, then maybe you should have payed more attention to cleaning up the glitches and less attention to cramming more content into a game with an insane amount already.
Now, apart from this issue, my other problem was that Skyrim’s predecessor, Oblivion, was boring as shit for me. The open world thing is ok for some people, but where it allows freedoms for characters, it also lacks direction, since most of it was me wandering aimlessly around trying to locate the right town and character to talk to in a world that was ridiculously large. This didn’t add to the immersion for me, it just made me bored as fuck. Also, everyone I ended up talking to gave me a goddamn side mission, until I had about 7000 of the fucking things! Then it was a chore just to try and figure out who gave me what, and how long ago that was. Needless to say, I got bored and put it down rather quickly, and from what I’m told, Skyrim didn’t change that part of the game all that much.
Truth be told, there was another gripe of mine, and that was the combat system. I just couldn’t get behind first person sword and magical combat, it just felt so…..wrong….
Around the same time as everyone prattling on about Skyrim, I was told about another game called Kingdoms of Amalur: The Reckoning. The game has characters designed by Todd McFarlane, and world lore/storyline written by none other than R.A.Salvatore. I’m not linking to either of their home pages, because if you don’t know who they are, then you’ve been living under a rock on a different planet for the past 20 years, and have no business reading my blog, 😉 Anyways, this piqued my interest, as did the fact that the combat and gameplay is much more along the lines of God of War than anything else. This, of course, gave me a gamer stiffy, since the God of War series is one of my all-time favorites, and much of the reasoning for my love of it is the awesome combat mechanics. I decided to give it a shot, and downloaded the demo.
The demo for Amalur was more glitchy and buggy than many I’ve played, but still the gameplay was awesome. I was saddened that such potential was wasted on a buggy game, much like Skyrim. I then found out that the demo was done with very old code, by a different dev than the one that made the game, and that the actual game did not suffer from such issues. Reviewers gave mostly favorable reviews of it, and my wonderful wife picked it up for me as a gift.
Please keep in mind that I haven’t really had, or shall I say made, the time to play video games since last summer, when Infamous 2 came out. I rarely play video games since having kids. I played a little bit of Amalur, and then it sat unplayed for a few weeks….until my surgery.
During my recovery, I played hours upon hours of this fucking game, and it wasn’t until hour 20 or so that I noticed a trend….and my folly. I was doing exactly what I criticized Skyrim players for, I was veering far off the storyline path to explore the world. My main quest had about 3 bullet points completed around that time. I had also completed about 18 side quests, each with multiple bullet points. I was all over the place, talking to people and reading books, learning the history of the world and lands I was exploring, and got so wrapped up in it all, that I didn’t give as much of a shit about the main storyline until I ran out of side quests to do. Granted, I got right back into it, but the allure of learning about the other stuff was much too great, and once I started and got hooked, there was no stopping it.
There are, however, a few things I really like about how these quests and such are done. This isn’t a comparison, since I’ve not played Skyrim. Anyone who has a side quest for you will be marked on your map, and in the world with an exclamation point over their head. This makes it easy to control how many of these bloody things you have. All of the points of interest for the active quest are also shown on the map, something older games never did. Keep in mind, most of the RPGs I’ve played were Final Fantasy games, which are similar to this one in that they were mostly linear, while giving the illusion of being open world. Let’s face it, if I were to run straight though to a certain area that I’m up to now, I’d be wearing my ass as a fucking hat. Also, to go from land to land, you must go through caves or passes, and can’t just run in that direction and get there. I think this makes it much easier to navigate the world and keep certain monsters from certain areas. The fast travel is cool too, so I don’t have to keep running everywhere.
The other HUGE thing for me is the combat, as I mentioned before. Switching between weapons and magic in battle is very easy and fluid, and the new abilities and combos that you can unlock really add to the gameplay. I absolutely love running around and fucking people up, since the combat is fast, brutal, and varied. I could literally go on and on about it, and the rest of this game, but this post is ridiculously long already.
So, to wrap things up, I must apologize to those whose balls I busted about Skyrim being only about wandering around, wasting time and side questing. Maybe I should dress up like a black pot for halloween…