Entertainment

Video game review: 'Kingdoms of Amalur'

Players can also create a character that is a more agile fighter.
Players can also create a character that is a more agile fighter.

Imitation and derivation are extremely commonplace in video games. If a popular title features a noteworthy spin on established genre mechanics, you’ll usually see it crop up elsewhere with little delay.

For one example, “Halo: Combat Evolved’s” regenerating health system and two-weapon carrying limit were picked up for 2006’s “Gears of War,” which paired it with an emphasis on firing from cover and became a blockbuster action series, which in turn informed the cover-based shooting action of Bioware’s “Mass Effect” series.

“Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning” freely lifts elements from “Fable,” “World of Warcraft,”

“Planescape: Torment” and the “Elder Scrolls” games, among other sources, and mashes them together into an entertaining and attractive action-RPG set in a detailed fantasy world.

As in “Planescape: Torment,” you start the game out dead, though you are quickly revived. A gnome scientist has created an artifact called the Well of Souls, which re-creates the bodies of the recent dead and attempts to reunite them with their spirits. Your character, who may be customized as you wish, is the first full success — and the only, as the device is soon destroyed by the Tuatha Deohn, a militant army of immortal Fae who are warring against the mortal races.

As a mortal brought back from death, you are without a destiny in the threads of fate, may break others free of their fates as well, and can use your powers to erase your enemies utterly.

As you finish quests and defeat foes you gain points to spend on abilities and skills, with Finesse, Might and Sorcery disciplines to choose from, or a combination of the three. Spending points in these fields opens up new powers along with numerous “Destinies” that grant bonuses to your attributes.

The mixture of fighting styles the game allows is similar to the “Fable” games — you can combine stealthy, ranged, melee and magical attacks into a potent chain of destruction, and each discipline is powerful in its own right if you prefer to specialize.

If you end up not liking the choices you’ve made, you can regain all the points you’ve spent for a fee — an extremely welcome feature in a genre that often makes players start from scratch with a new character if they want to try something new.

Derivative it may be, but “Reckoning” is a solid piece of work. The satisfying action is backed by decent voice acting and a fine musical score, and the visuals and feel of the game are distinctive, with characters and monsters designed by Todd McFarlane, creator of the “Spawn” comic book, and writing by fantasy and sci-finovelist R.A. Salvatore.

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