At a glance Reckoning: Kingdoms Of Amalur looks like an RPG grown in a Petri dish mix-up between Fable and Dragon Age.
Which isn't to say mouldy, just very familiar: It's all reagents, potions, Nordic-sounding names, elves, buffs, (but not elves in the buff) and dungeons. So many dungeons.
But where EA's latest role-player does differ from the goblin-bothering crowd is with its combat. In stark contrast to so many RPGs where you essentially just stand there kicking each other in the nuts until whoever's got the least hit points has a little lie down, Reckoning is more influenced by third-person actioners like God Of War and Ninja Gaiden.
Although not immediately obvious from these still shots, the difference is clear when you see the game demoed live, as the lead character rolls out of danger, uses juggle combos and frame interrupts, moves all more commonly found in one-on-one beat-'em-ups. (Little wonder, given that the lead combat designer is a tournament level Tekken player.) Also noteworthy was the way the camera zoomed dynamically to keep the action looking as exciting as possible.
We also saw the 'Reckoning' mode, which is unleashed once you've hoovered up enough blue energy from defeated enemies to fill the 'fate meter' (oh yes). Once activated, it functions a lot like 'Devil' mode from DMC, and enables you to finish off the more sizeable entries in the game's bestiary with brutal God Of War-style QTE kills.
Part of the credit for the stylish animation goes to comics supremo Todd McFarlane (of Spawn fame), who's acted as a kind of 'stabbing consultant', providing feedback to the artists working on the game to ensure the action looks more dramatic and the enemies more iconic.
Other key names working on the Reckoning include Ken Rolston, whose credits include lead designer on Oblivion, and R.A. Salvatore, author of the Forgotten Realms series, who's created the game's (to our eyes slightly trad) universe. Although with 15 million book sales in the US alone, he probably knows what he's doing when it comes to high fantasy.
Reckoning: Kingdoms Of Amalur is due out in 2012 on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3. The game is being developed by Big Huges Games and 38 Studios. Interestingly, the latter was founded by retired Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling.
Somehow, we don't see Ashley Cole going into game development once he hangs up his boots. Unless it's some sort of work experience boy FPS.