Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

Kingdoms of Amalur - Reckoning - gameplay - screenshot -1

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is an expansive action RPG. It was released as the first of a trilogy by the now-defunct Big Huge Games studio, and feels like a Fable/Elder Scrolls lovechild. KoA sports excellent game-feel, seemingly endless side quests… and a terribly generic and un-inspiring main story-line.

Kingdoms of Amalur

If this had been a JRPG or a turn-based  game, I would not have played it solely for the story. There are plenty of other games to choose from if that is what you’re looking for. Though glitchy in minor areas, KoA is an excellent choice for lovers of action RPGs who have a difficult time finding games that don’t have wonky combat controls. You begin by choosing one of 5 races, each with a couple of unique bonuses. Character models are very customizable, so long as you are only concerned about the face. The beginning features a good tutorial that gets you familiar with the basics, but make sure to manually turn tutorials off in the main menu once you get out into the main game. Amalur is pretty damn easy on Normal mode, so unless you really just want to enjoy the landscape and make a 10 hour speed-run through the main quest, play on Hard.

Kingdoms of Amalur

Primary and secondary weapon slots do not have any requirements. This means you can equip two axes, a scepter and longbow, or any possible combination of the several weapon classes to tailor to your play style. A unique “Fate” system allows you to personalize your skills even further. You are allotted points at each level-up  to apply towards any of 3 ability trees; Might, Sorcery, and Finesse. After a certain amount of points have been invested in the trees, new fates open up which grant special bonuses that correlate with your most buffed abilities.

Kingdoms of Amalur

You can gain some pretty sweet gear through various quests. You can also invest in Blacksmithing and Sagecraft abilities to forge your own unique weapons, armor, and augments. The vibrant landscape is full of herbs and plants you can harvest for Alchemical use, though I preferred just buying potions from vendors.

Overall I would definitely recommend this to friends who were fans of the original Fable, though Elder Scrolls players might find it a bit too  simplistic. If you’re looking to kill 20-60 hours, pick this up used somewhere and really enjoy the smooth controls and pretty atmosphere. 

Metal Slug 3

metal slug 3

Metal Slug 3 is at first deceptively slow but by no means easy. Certain levels have multiple paths you can take, affecting your mid-stage gameplay, though both paths lead to the same boss. Blasting through hoards of puking zombies makes the second mission particularly charming . If they land a hit you’re transformed into a slow-moving zombie yourself, reminiscent of the mummy affliction from MS2/X. Unlike the mummy, there is a definite upside to the zombie state. You maintain the use of your handgun and in lieu of bombs possess a graphic blood-vomit attack that spans the majority of the screen. Your movement is significantly affected however, so it isn’t prudent to intentionally afflict yourself with the zombie status…at least more than once.

metal slug 3
The third mission begins in a janky underwater area and the entire stage exemplifies the initial slow pace of MS3 in comparison to other titles in the series. The third mission’s boss is very easy and very generic, which does nothing to prepare you for the little stage of horrors that is the fourth mission. Our zombie friends are back, newly equipped with their own blood-vomit attack, along with Audrey-esque cannibalistic plants. This stage is hard, bloody, and will leave you begging for more.

Many people say Metal Slug 3 is the best game in the series, and I’d bet this is because of the final mission. Your initial character is kidnapped and you are automatically given the next in line from the Player Select Screen. You begin the stage in a vertical shmup setting, flying through asteroids and gunning down aliens. The 5th mission is the longest, most satisfying orgy of missiles and explosions this side of DoDonPachi. This stage feels like real Metal Slug with its fast-moving and detailed landscapes. Overall, MS3 epitomizes quarter-munching arcade fun, if you’re patient enough to hang on past the build-up of the first few levels.