A Reckoning in Amalur
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a very bittersweet game. It's effectively a single player clone of World of Warcraft, and, by all accounts, and 38 Studios planned to release a massively multi-player version. But it was not to be. The studio went under, owing millions to the state of Rhode Island. The MMO will never be released, and KoA will never be patched - and believe me, it's got bugs a-plenty. That said, KoA is a good game for people who like the whole sword 'n' sorcery thing.
It's hack and slash. Wade into combat with your preferred weapon, and beat the bazongas out of everything. I personally played my usual modus operandi, which is to sneak up behind monsters and stab them in the head and take all their stuff. I also had the option of sword and shield, or big ass swords, or magic of various types. You've got a few skill trees to dick around with, so how you destroy everything in the vicinity is really up to you. There are also crafting, persuasion, lockpicking, mercantile, and a few others.
There will be inventory management. And holy crap, but they just don't give you enough space and there are bugged items you just can't get rid of, and they throw shiny stuff at you like nothing else. Other than that - the game is as big as an MMO, with a huge list of side quests on top of the main quest line, in an actual area as big as one of the World of Warcraft continents.
Combat is fun as all hell, especially when you finally charge up your Fateshift and turn everything within range to itty bitty monster bits. There are quicktime events, but only a couple. The learning curve is pretty gentle, and it's mostly about mashing buttons rather than actual tactics - once you learn how to dodge, it gets very easy.
It's got the design sensibilities of World of Warcraft. Slightly cartoony, but very bloody in places. It doesn't have the realism of Skyrim, but the areas are very pretty and mostly interesting. There are, unfortunately, a few camera bugs where it'll swoop below the level of the ground, but most of the time it behaves. The armor and weapons are kick ass cool, and the fight animations are quick and snappy.
Can you play a female character?
Hell yes, and it's pretty damn cool.
Are the women sexualized?
Weeeell, yeah, a little. Alyn Shir is a main NPC femme fatale who wanders around in the proverbial leather bikini. Needless to say, I don't approve of this. However... that's just her. You, the main character, are not. Most female characters are not. Overall, if you can put up with her act, you'll do fine. (Personally, the sound of her voice makes me want to punch puppies.)
Is there a similar level of customization for the female characters as for male characters?
Yes, which is good. The armor sets are the same for males and females.
Are the numbers of NPCs balanced between males and females, and do they have a similar overall level of power?
Yes, and I was pleasantly surprised by this. Major shout out to General Tilera being a giant slice of awesome there. Even the gendering of monsters seems to be split 50/50 - the gender of bandits, villains, and other random humanoids certainly is.
Nope. I figured they thought the MMO would make up the social aspect, when it was released.
It's kind of a shame that KoA isn't going to get a sequel. The game is a fun alternative to playing a fantasy MMO, in an interesting setting that might have stood up to the likes of Azeroth or Middle-Earth. There's always some hope that the franchise will be picked up and extended, but I wouldn't bet on it. For now, Kingdoms of Amalur is just a pretty cool fantasy RPG game that doesn't do the whole tits 'n' ass thing and has a mostly egalitarian thing going on.