Thursday, August 23, 2012

Amalur DLC

The Curse of Dead Kel and The Teeth of Naros are the two DLC's that have been released for Amalur so far and I was honestly a little hesitant to buy them. I love Amalur, I just don't always love DLC. The Bordlerlands DLC never really appealed to me (quite a feat, given that I've played through Borderlands about three or four times), and even some of the Dragons Age DLC wasn't very good.

Not so with Amalur DLC! These are amazing add-ons that really feel like a whole other chapter in the main story, not like tacked-on adventures that are just more of the same.

OK, actually it is more of the same, in both cases. There isn't anything amazingly revolutionary in the DLC itself, but come on, that's why they call it DLC. It's not a whole new Amalur game, but it is some serious new storyline, lots of fresh gameplay, and well worth every cent.

Dead Kel

OK, so I actually didn't think I'd like Dead Kel because it sounded mostly like the game developers were sitting around in a room thinking "what do people like? oh, I know! Zombies. And pirates! Hey, let's make a DLC that combines them both and stick it into the world of Amalur!"

You'd think that, but you'd be wrong. Dead Kel is seamlessly interwoven into the Amalur world. It introduces another race, the Dverga, although you never actually meet the Dverga. You hear about them in legend, though, and that gives the world that sense of history that Amalur is so full of.

The storytelling style is still really bad. That's one thing that Amalur is clunky with. Sometimes you approach a character and ask them questions and they're telling you about how they need to rescue this person, or find this object in order to solve their problem. The thing is, they haven't even told you what their problem is yet, so you keep asking questions and the third or fourth option down is very obviously the introductory line they really should have started with.

You also finally (finally) get a love interest, which seems like a good idea since Amalur up until this point has been completely devoid of any romance. But the way it's introduced is just plain silly, and it doesn't develop. Nice try though.

The voice acting is still supremely annoying, as well. I don't know where they found the actors for Amalur, but I can't stand any of them. I wish there was an option to turn off all voices; I'll settle for subtitles when the acting is bad, but Grant Hopekirk's music is so amazing that I wouldn't want to miss that.

But the linear story isn't why I play Amalur. I play it for the rich history and lore within the world, and the combat, and the destinies.

Dead Kel introduces some new enemies, provides the player with a new homebase that they can build up, introduces a "pet" system (no, you don't get a wolf that follows you around and helps you, but you can have an NPC raise a pet for you and the pet gives you permanent boosts to health and mana and combat skills). It's set on an island, so there's a new sea-faring flavor that got hinted at in Rathir but is developed more strongly here, and has some really fun and amazing combat opportunities.

I didn't keep track of how many hours I spent on the Dead Kel storyline, but I'd estimate about 2 or 3 weeks of casual play.

Teeth of Naros

I figured the Teeth of Naros would be a big troll someplace that I had to go find and kill. Turns out, it's not a character but a geographic location. The story surprises you a little, so I'm not going to provide any spoilers. Besides, I'm still playing through this one.

I'll just say that this is a fun DLC with, again, lots of new little touches and a few new enemies, and even a new form of Magic. Definitely worth playing.

As for which one you should try? well, both. These are impeccable DLC's. They're true to the original spirit of the game, they're just as fun, and they introduce enough new ideas to keep you surprised and inspired.  As usual, the art and music is amazingly beautiful and the history and lore is rich.

A few problems overall would be that it seems to be capping my level. I'm at lvl 40 with 62 XP points toward lvl 41, but no matter what I do I can't progress. The positive side to this is that I still get fate cards when I accomplish a significant triumph, but it's pretty annoying that no matter who or what I kill or what I accomplish, I'm just not progressing in my stats.

The other problem, really, are the only things I've already mentioned and that seem to be problems with Amalur as a whole: clunky storytelling with dialog choices that seem to have an intended order but are presented to you in a random order, and really really annoying voice acting. Sometimes comically bad.

Anyway, highly recommended overall. GET THESE DLC's@!!!!

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