Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning preview: Reckon the combat is solid

It's hard not to be skeptical about Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. An RPG, by known strategy developer Big Huge Games, that was rejiggered to fit into Curt Schilling's 38 Studios long-in-development MMO's universe after the developer's acquisition. In our March preview of the game at GDC we said that the developer "might just pull this off." Now, after playing Reckoning at Gamescom, I have to say that Big Huge Games could exceed expectations when the game launches February 7.

During my demo with Reckoning I played as a mage and warrior, the two had distinct animations, but at their core were similar when it came to the rules of combat. Both characters I tried were level 20, so I was dropped right into a high-level character without much training. It wasn't really a problem as the combat system is quite intuitive. If you've played Batman: Arkham Asylum, Bayonetta or Fable, you'll easily pick up the fantastical warfare.
%Gallery-129421% There is a rich set of combos available with the assigned weapons and spells. At the most basic level the weapons work on a three-hit system, with players learning more intricate moves as they level up. All the weapons I tried also had an area of effect move available by holding the associated button for a couple seconds to charge up.

Combat was satisfying, requiring blocks, dodges and quick hits to take down the monsters. The mage even had the ability to phase through the enemies, causing the monsters to slow if she passed through them. It became my tactic of choice when fighting giants to pass through them, get a couple hits off as they slowly turned around, then phase through again to get in a couple more hits. The strategy would have been flawless, had it not been for the wolves and other giants in the room that took advantage of any opening I gave them.

Another nice detail with the mage is that her melee weapons aren't completely useless (as mage weapons tend to be). Reckoning doesn't appear to be about making spell-spam magic users. She actually had a staff that was efficient at taking out slower creatures and deadly Aerobies that kept the fast ones at a distance. It was also possible to chain spells with specific melee attacks for some spiffy animations.

The warrior was also satisfying and stylish, carrying a giant sword, his play style was more hit and roll. Blocking worked great, but it doesn't help much against a giant that charges and swan dives on you. There was a particularly nice move where I could charge up a spin attack to go all food processor on the enemies, as long as I kept tapping the button to keep the spin going.

Picking up and playing these characters at a higher level of the game meant I missed out on a lot of training, but it speaks volumes about Reckoning's combat system that after 10 minutes and some experimentation that the combo possibilities started becoming clear. I wanted to keep playing, which is saying a lot, considering my state of exhaustion after covering Gamescom for days.

Reckoning is being compared to titles like Fable and Dragon Age, and I can't speak to the narrative elements of the title, but I have to say that the combat feels richer than Fable (especially in the frame rate department) and absolutely shames Dragon Age.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.