further adventures in Amalur

I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older and my hand-eye coordination isn’t what it used to be, or if it’s that I just don’t have the enduring patience that I used to have, but I’m finding that I’m no longer compelled to finish games that I’m not enjoying.  I used to be obsessive about this, spending hours and hours playing games that had stopped being fun shortly after the opening cut-scene, just so that I could get Achievements, or just to have said that I’d finished it, or (worst of all) because there wasn’t anything else I felt like doing.

Whatever the reason, I’m most likely done with both Final Fantasy XIII-2 and The Darkness 2.  I’d already put some quality time into FFXIII-2, and even sorta enjoyed myself in spite of its ridiculousness, and so I don’t feel badly about giving up on it.  (I’d put it down a week or two ago; my current quest involved me going to previous areas and looking for hidden objects, which didn’t sound terribly compelling, especially since I couldn’t explain why.)  As for the Darkness 2, well, I think it’s just straight-up shooter fatigue.  The art style is really remarkable, the story was moving in an interesting direction, and it puts enough of a spin on traditional shooter mechanics to make it compelling, but at the end of the day I’m still just shooting monsters in dark corridors, and I’ve done that before.

And so it happened that I was home sick yesterday, which was as good a time as any to devote some serious time into Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, which is yet another game that I’d been having a tough time sticking with.  As noted a few entries ago, I’d dabbled in it for a few hours, but there wasn’t really anything terribly compelling about it, and I couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed in it, considering the named creative talent on the box.

I’m now around 15 hours in, and my dude is somewhere around level 18 or 19 or something.  (I can’t remember; it doesn’t matter.)

I will concede that the game does have some addictive qualities – this is certainly one of the best combat systems in an action RPG that I’ve ever played – and there’s lots and lots of loot, and the crafting systems (of which there are many) yield some pretty kick-ass rewards (i.e., almost everything I’m currently wearing/wielding is something I made, salvaged from stuff I picked up along the way).

Addictive though it may be, it’s still serving something that feels, for the most part, inconsequential and derivative.  The game’s outdoor environments are nicely varied (and are pleasantly reminiscent of Fable)*, but the indoor environments are just as reused and revisited as those in Dragon Age 2, which is saying something indeed.   The voice acting is fine, but the script is dull and charmless, and I am constantly skipping over conversations because they never, ever matter.  The quests themselves are pretty much all of the fetch variety, anyway.  I’m not playing the game for the story, in other words – I’m playing because the combat is fun and I get lots of treats.

In any event, this is probably all moot, as 2012’s first must-play just arrived at my desk.  I don’t know how much SSX I’ll get into tonight (as my wife and I are going to try and finish the last few episodes of Mad Men), but that’ll be occupying the majority of my playtime for the foreseeable future – at least until Mass Effect 3 shows up.

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*  Before I turned the game off last night I entered a totally different environment, one which had a lot more in common with Road Runner cartoons and the Mexico of Red Dead Redemption than the foresty areas of Fable.  So that’s something to look forward to, I suppose.

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