Review: Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

24 11 2011

My god, this game. I wasn’t sure what to make of this game when it was first announced. I know I won’t make many friends for this, but I wasn’t a huge fan of Oblivion. The game just felt really “slow” to me and I had a hard time getting into it. So I was worried I was going to feel the same with Skyrim and, for the longest time, I didn’t really care about this game. But as its release got closer, I slowly started to warm up to the feel of the game and decided to pick it up on release day. This, as it turned out, was the best descision I could have made in regards to this game.

Graphics: 9/10

A VAST improvement from Oblivion. Gone are the days of claymation-looking faces on stock bodies. Instead, NPCs actually feel like their own characters, or at least the quest based ones do anyway. I would have liked to see a bit more variation in the voice actors, but I digress. Even putting aside the improved character models, the landscape in Skyrim is beautiful. Sprawling plains, lush forests, rocky mountains, snowy tundras, this game has everything. Where Oblivion felt clunky and just made me want to get to the next town as fast as possible, Skyrim makes me want to explore. I WANT to wander the map and find every little dungeon.  The game rewards you for exploring and it helps that the world feels so alive.

I guess I only have a few real issues with the graphics and one could be considered a gameplay issue. The first is the character skins. Every character looks like their in their 50’s. Children seem to be the only characters that look young, with voice being the only determining factor for most characters. The second issue is with the mountains. Despite being able to jump up rocks in other areas of the game, mountain areas make travelling very difficult for the most part, with only one path most times. While you *can* try to jump up the mountain, you run the risk of getting stuck between rocks.

Another issue I have is Bethseda’s decision NOT to support SDTV displays. This means anyone playing the game on an SDTV has to deal with portions of their screen being cut off because Bethseda feels everyone should have an HDTV by now. Good job giving the middle finger to your playerbase in that regard Bethseda.

Gameplay: 10/10

There is so much to do in this game. While you could complete the main story in a day, the vast amount of side quests, character developments and items to hunt are vast and numerous. There are tons of side quests and factions for you to join such as the thieves guild or the Dark Brotherhood. The story is so well done and the voice acting is superb, despite some of the voice actors appearing a little too much.

Many of the systems from Oblivion have seen huge improvements here. The leveling and skills systems are not the convaluted mess they were in Oblivion and building a character the way you want is a lot easier and straight forward this time around. Movement is smoother and faster, I found walking and running to be much faster than Oblivion and I felt movement and transportation as a whole to flow a lot better with the game. Crafting and Enchanting finally are useful, despite being the easiest skills to max, and having the ability to name your enchanted weapons is just plain cool. Perks were a much needed addition that allow some really interesting character choices as you level up including the ability to enchant an item twice or unbreakable lockpicks.

Even when the story quests have been completed, many of the questlines can continue with “radiant quests” that are randomly generated and are infinite, making sure you never run out of things to do. The world itself is huge, I’ve only found about 120 different locations and I’d bet that isn’t even half on the map.

Unfortunately, my major complaint is all the bugs that Bethseda neglected to fix before the game’s release. Freezing, glitching, and enemies that do not do what they’re supposed to (i.e. dragons spawning in buildings) all are things that really should have been taken care of pre-release.

Story: 8/10

A really well done story, but it could have used some improvements. It would have been nice NOT to have started as a prisoner AGAIN. Also, the whole war vs. the rebellion has been done to death. While I would have liked to see a more original story, the side stories more than make up for this and allow me to overlook it.

Music: 10/10

I love the soundtrack of this game, it really gets you in the mood for adventuring. The dragon fighting music is one of my favorites.

Overall: 9/10

I do think this is easily Game of the Year. I also thing this is one of the best RPGs released in the last decade. I’m hoping Bethseda steps up with some patches soon, because once those bugs are fixed, this game has the potential to be 10/10 material.

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