The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Posted: 19/11/2011 in Reviews
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Redefining the word “Time-suck”…

Back in 2006, Bethesda Games Studio’s released Oblivion, widely recognized as one of the best RPG’s of all time. This game redefined the RPG genre. Five years later, Bethesda launches Skyrim, improving on everything the old game put in place, and creating even more glorious content for everyone to play for another billion hours.

The stories in this game are long, deep, well thought out adventures with many fantastic scenes and epic battles. In this take of the Elder Scrolls universe, there are 6 of these wonderful stories. The first one is the main quest line, which has you, the Dragonborn, fighting to stop the dragons, which are reappearing after being extinct for millennia. 4 of these are the guild quest lines, which are the Thieves guild, the Companions guild (a fighters guild lookalike), the college of Winterhold (a mages guild copy), and the Dark Brotherhood. The last story is one that is told by two sides. In this story, you can choose either the Imperials, or the Stormcloaks. Both sides have you fighting the other for control. However, the Imperials are fighting to control it as an empire, and the Stormcloaks are fighting for the freedom to rule under a separate banner. All of these quests are long, deep, and a blast to play.

In the nature of all the Elder Scrolls, there are also other quests throughout the game. They come in a large variety, and can be picked up all over the province. However, the cities will have most of these quests. Most of these quests will be very polished, have a definite story, which is quick and to-the-point. Even though these quests are plentiful, there is also another kind of quest. Anyone who has done their pre-game research will know that this game sports an infinite quest system. These quests will all be generated by the game, and they will be quests involving you to go clear out a dungeon, find some plants, or recover a certain material. All of these fetching quests will have a small backstory, whether it’s a logger asking you to bring her bear pelts because they’re threatening her to go out of business, or a smith asking you to fetch fire salts that make his forge run. These extra quests are all fun and varied, and will guarantee you lack of light for a few extra days.

One of the bigger improvements to Skyrim is the handcrafted dungeons. When Oblivion was created, there was one person designing the dungeons. After looking at a few caves and forts, you could see they were puzzle pieces arranged in different orders. The traps and trick doors were easy and predictable, and these dungeons were boring wastes of time. In Skyrim, there are 7 dungeon creators. Each dungeon is hand-crafted; no more puzzle pieces. On top of the beautiful new dungeons, they have added genuine puzzles. Now, you’ll be forced to get passed all matters of challenges, which range from basic pressure plates to jumping platforms. All in all, the dungeons are now beautiful, challenging, enjoyable parts of Skyrim.

The combat in Skyrim is greatly improved from Oblivion. In Oblivion, the enemies were easy to manipulate, had terrible variety, and were quite bland. In Skyrim, there is a huge variety. All of the enemies, even basic ones like bears, pose genuine challenge. There is a slight balance issue with the difficulty of fighting certain creatures. For example, a battle with two dragons might be a walk in the park, but a single bear will have you on the ground in two swings of its paws. Adding to the combat system are perks. The perks add advantages to each class, and make you think a genuine strategy for the progression of your character. These perks vary from shield bashing to a 20% damage increase with bows. Some of the perks are copied from skill to skill, making them seem slightly repetitive, but are genuinely valuable. The last combat changer is the Thu’um, or shouts. These shouts are ancient dragon powers, which you will use throughout the game. These come in a large variety, ranging from slow time to fire blast to storm call. The shouts add a nicely balanced layer to the combat; they are neither overpowering nor useless. The additions that Bethesda has added to the combat make it thoroughly enjoyable and empowering.

The world of Skyrim is a bold masterpiece. Everything from the people in the cities to the mountains encasing them gives off the same, cold vibe. You can tell the creators put a lot of time and effort into making this so. The music, for example, has a very open, epic feel to it. It reminds me of the music you’d expect Vikings to play right before a battle, which fits the idea of Skyrim perfectly. Another aspect of Skyrim that enraptures this feel is the world itself. In some parts, it has calm rivers cascading down the side of a small cliff. In other parts, you’ll see the remains of a shipwreck being bombarded with thick sheets of snow on an ice field. As beautiful as most of the world is, there are a few places that lack polish that the rest of the world receives. Most of these places are the more remote places, like the tops of mountains, but they still show up, making certain areas a bit less enjoyable visually. However, besides the small lack of polish in remote locations, I have no complaints for the world Bethesda crafted. It truly is a masterpiece to behold.

However, as high as I praise this game, there are a few problems that I have with the game. Firstly, the finishing moves are sometimes cringe-worthy. They are poorly executed, and, unfortunately, have no toggle switch. Secondly, the new engine is overly similar from the old engine. Bethesda said they were bringing a completely new engine, which is apparent, but has remnants of the older engines shining through. Lastly, the game has a few solvable glitches. In a game this size, this is expected, but some of the quirks are inexcusable. For example, there are certain options in the menu’s that will send you flying all over the place. They might not be huge bugs, but the small ones are noticeable, which add a (very) small layer of disappointment.

All in all, this game is a glowing masterpiece. The downsides are very easy to forgive when compared to the features that the game sports. This is a game that anyone should go out and get. If you’re on the edge, I fully suggest you buy this game. It might be the best RPG I have ever had my hands on. However, be warned. This is the biggest game I have ever seen. If you are a fan of playing lots of games, skip over this. Skyrim can literally be played infinitely. If that seems like something that you’d be interested in, go out and buy it. I can’t recommend this game enough.

Score: 9.5

Up-Side: A deep, beautiful world with endless possibilities, a huge amount of rich content, a very immersive combat system.

Down-Side: Ugly finishing moves, reused engine, small bugs, big time-suck.

What we’re wondering: What will the inevitable DLC bring?

-Darcy Hebert


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