Monday, April 23, 2012

I see what you did there. We all see

Spend enough time with any game and the cracks will begin to show. Sometimes little things that are easily forgiven in the first ten (or twenty) hours of play work their way up past quaint, bothersome and infuriating to mindbogglingly aggravating so quickly that the controller has hit the wall before you even know what has happened.

Maybe that's just me.

Other times you luckily avoid the broken bits of a game and build an illusion of competence about it that is unceremoniously shattered when you finally stumble onto something that just doesn't work. Such was my weekend with Amalur. Amalur handles crime in very much the same way as Fable or Skyrim: if someone sees you do it you are screwed, otherwise steal to your larcenous hearts content. Or so I thought. I had been given a task of delivering an offering to the local church and then guarding it. There was a thief in town (besides myself) who had been emptying the poor box when no one was looking. I dutifully made the delivery and then waited. And waited. And then got bored with waiting so I took the money back.

No one in the church was awake and no one had walked in while I was watching. First of all there was less in the box than I had put in, so it appears that the box itself is the thief, and secondly about a dozen guards all show up at the same time, summoned by a medieval alarm system. Instead of attacking they demand I pay a fine, which was nice of them, and just as they are leaving the real thief showed up. I should have killed him.

That was at least amusing and not quest breaking. Later that night I had to get into a guarded military barracks and no one was being let in without an officer's pass. I didn't have a pass, but the officer guarding the door did, so I crouched down behind him (this rendering myself invisible) and started rummaging through his pockets. The odds of me getting it unnoticed were not good, but I went for it anyway.

He noticed, and he and all the guard immediately attacked. No asking for a fine or a bribe this time, they drew their swords and went full aggro. I ran to the nearby town only to find that all the NPC's in the area already knew about  my crime, and they all wanted to kill me as well. To kill time I did a distant quest, and the character from that town who was locked in a basement also knew what I had done and would not talk to me. I had angered the entire region with my failed pickpocket attempt.

This is not good. In Skyrim if  you are caught doing something wrong you can always kill the witnesses. As long as you get all of them before they can talk to anyone you can get away with it. Not so in Amalur, where all residents of a city share some sort of hive mind. Eventually I sold the stolen officer's pass to a fence and did other quests for a few game days. When the guards calmed down I repurchased the pass from the fence and gave it to the same guard that I stole it from.

He let me in. Amalur's veneer is peeling and I have no idea how much of it is left.

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