You met 'The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim' and fell in love at first dragon bite. You gazed into its eyes and started to spend all your time together, questing looting and slaying. It was true love.

Your torrid affair may have started off hot and heavy, but you two have since drifted apart as the months have rolled on. And 'Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning' is the trashy, crazy-eyed girl from a bad neighborhood willing to show you a good time.

You resist at first, because you feel committed to 'Skyrim' and don’t want to spoil what you’ve spent so much time building over a hot crawl through the dungeon of another. But you can’t resist, and here’s why.

'Reckoning' was kinda made by Curt Schilling, founder of game developer 38 Studios and the Major League pitcher who was such an indomitable force that he won a World Series in Arizona of all places, as well as Boston, where they couldn’t so much as field routine ground balls before he arrived, and helped change the culture. It’s OK to admit as a dude that you’re in love with Schilling — unless you're a Yankees fan, in which case you probably hate him for ruining your life on several occasions— and you can get him a $60 Valentine by buying his game.

What does baseball have to do with video games? Making a great game is like forming a sports team, getting the right pieces in place to create a synergistic magic. Schilling does just that with 'Reckoning' bringing in bestselling fantasy author R.A. Salvatore to craft a rich story and lore, as well as comics maestro Todd McFarlane to handle the artistic direction. The result is no 'Skyrim,' but it’s in the same league, and will doubtless make its other rivals stronger just by existing.

You play as an amnesiac hero, inexplicably resurrected by mysterious forces and destined to become a spell-casting, sword-wielding errand boy for all varieties of Tolkienish characters you encounter. My favorite open-world role-playing games start you off as this one does, as a powerless scamp who can barely take down a rat,encouraging you to build up your status and skills step by step until you become the baddest dude in the realm.

'Reckoning' is content to slip into the Elder Scrolls-style path, matching the game in stunning visuals and storytelling while falling a bit short on the game play side. The controls and hit detection can be iffy, so expect to talk to a dwarf-like dude rather than pick up a bow on the ground. You may also encounter bugs, but there’s nothing game-breaking and hopefully most of the problems will be ironed out in an update. All in all, 'Reckoning' is a heater that paints the corner for a called strike.

The championship ring may elude it for now, but that sort of thing has never stopped Schilling before. RPG lovers, get ready to meet your mistress.

Rating: 8.5/10

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning ($60), was developed by 38 Studios and Big Huge Games, published by Electronic Arts and is available on Xbox 360 and PS3. Rated Mature. The publisher provided a copy of the game for review.

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