Starting out this review…I am nervous. Never have I been so afraid of writing a review then right now for Bethesda’s massive RPG “Skyrim.” The Elder Scrolls series has a monumental fan following, incredibly extensive lore and history, millions of stories and people to tell them, creatures of all shape and size, many forms of magic and spells, weapons and armor, and a freedom unlike any other. Skyrim is evolving how games should be played and what it means to step into a virtual world.
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Skyrim boasts over 400 hours of gameplay but in fact the game never truly ends. You can continue to explore, guilds will continue giving you missions and assignments, caves and ruins will have newer enemies and denizens within them, and dragons are never-ending. The scope of Skyrim is awe-inspiring. The amount of work put into this game is astonishing. Bethesda has created a living, breathing, and functioning world. Escapism is what Skyrim prides itself on and it truly is a game of freedom.
CLICK "READ MORE" for the FULL REVIEW. See Why Skyrim Got 29 out of 30 points.
Bethesda’s invention of Radiant AI and Story-telling has opened up a plethora of options from deciding to stay on the straight path of the main mission or to neglect all your responsibilities as a “Dragonborn” to save the world from annihilation at the hands of mythic Dragons to pick flowers, snatch salmon out of the rivers, create potions, hunt wildlife, forge weapons and armor, mine for gold and silver, steal from houses, assassinate people of power, scour dungeons and crypts, and help your fellow Nords with their miscellaneous problems.
Bethesda gives you the challenge of choosing every single step you make. At the moment I have more than 35 active missions in my quest queue, but what do I do? I crawl around dungeons, raid pirate ships, fight dragons on the side of cliffs, steal and sell my merchandise, and enjoy the lovely scenery.
The plot throws you into a world full of turmoil as Dragons return to the province of Skyrim. Once thought extinct now they ravage towns and are trying to overthrow mankind, but you are Dragonborn; a warrior with the heart and soul of a Dragon able to wield powerful words of power that can take the shape of fire, frost, speed, sight, and fear. Only you can combat the Dragon horde, only you can save Skyrim, thus saving Tamriel.
Tamriel is the world of the Elder Scrolls. We’ve visited Hammerfell, High Rock, Morrowind, Cyrodil, and now we explore Skyrim; the home of the Nords. This cold, frigid, and unrelenting environment shows off the mountains and drastic weather changes that Bethesda has been able to show off with their Creation Game Engine.
Bustling towns, camps, cities, and taverns really immerse the player into the world and that fact that every NPC talks to you, acknowledges you, and interacts with the player creates a sense of reality that other games cannot match. Skyrim sets the bar high on graphics and real-time environments. Trees and plants sway with the breeze, waterfalls have adequate physics, and level terrain is drastically varied so that there is no dull moment.
In Oblivion dungeons, caves, and ruin became boring quickly. The same design was used in almost every blue-print for the underground levels. Now in Skyrim each crypt and tomb seem different, layouts are always changing, and the game will learn from your actions and play style.
Traps and puzzles are more prominent and the amount of detail in every wall, table, vegetable, weapons, and literature is amazing.
Bethesda has written over 250 real books for Skyrim and you can read then from page to page. What does this say about Bethesda, how about the other game companies how do not use this with their technology and games? The level of dedication to the lore and immersion make Skyrim stand out from all RPGs and all games period!
Simply put; Skyrim has the best graphics I’ve ever played with. It’s not that Skyrim has the best facial recognition (L.A. Noire takes the Cake) and Skyrim doesn’t show off the best textures (Uncharted 3 has that Crown), BUT with the combination of how well everything fits together so perfectly Skyrim is ultimate gorgeousness.
Walking through town to see wood grain on a house, seeing grass grow up from the wood frames, as the breeze blows the hair of the Nord your talking to sways. Cave fungus that glows and reflects off the rocks, shadows that react to your location, and the Aura Borealis that’s near Windhelm is ridiculously mesmerizing!
The textures of books, ingredients, potions, weapons, and armor serves as a high point for any developer to admire and challenge. Bethesda shows off what kind of game they can create and says that they can still push out more power.
Running through the snow with a fire spell at the ready never felt so good when you’re having ambient Nordic chanting in the background. Sneaking through caves to hear your footsteps, your breathing, and the hint of whistling from the cracks in the walls could send chills down your spine. The music of Skyrim is just as motivating as Oblivion’s was. Listening to a full male choir chanting the Dovahkiin name makes you seem invincible…until you attempt to take down a giant and get thrown away like a used XboxLive code.
Dialogue is completely improved; now NPCs will walk, work, and keep the conversion active. Mouths still don’t always follow the audible words but the way the body language of the characters move it adds to the immersion that you’re there and not just looking at a NPC stand there and stare at you.
Bethesda always have problems in the movement department. Games like Brink, Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas, Oblivion, WET, and Hunted: Demons Forge have had problems with controller lag, action mechanics, and just all-out hobknobbery. Skyrim is no different although a patch to improve problems and bug is releasing the week after Thanksgiving 2011.
Players are still able to be trapped inside pieces of the environment such as boulders, houses, trees, and in some extreme cases the ground itself. Remember people; game design is extremely hard, time consuming, confusing, and very hard to master. Even the pros mess up sometime. It’s part of the atmosphere and adventure so don’t hate on a game just because it may have some hiccups.
Combat is greatly improved with the addition of Dual-Wielding. Now characters can wield a sword and a frost spell, Two different spells for added damage, two daggers, a mace and a short-sword, a war axe and a shield, two magical staffs, the combinations are up to you! Fighting sometimes have cinematic finishing moves seen from a 3rd person’s perspective and are entertaining to watch; especially when giving a Dragon a curb stomp.
Climbing hills and mountains is still a challenge and a headache every player has to endure. The Elder Scrolls series has always had hard to traverse terrain but Skyrim takes the cake. Huge cliffs and bluffs that make the player have to shimmy his/her way from left to right up a sheer wall of rock and snow to reach the peak.
Conversations, smithing weapons, enchanting armor, mining silver, lock picking chests, and notching arrows are simple, easy to understand, and very RPG heavy in the customization aspect. Leveling up has improved with the addition of perks and added boosts to skills. Every level will give you a new perk and will never let you down to entertain you and keep that controller in your hands.
Skyrim never ends. Even after the 400+ hours of gameplay you can still steal for the Thieves guild, assassinate for the Dark Brotherhood, cave dive, and explore the world. Missions will still appear and people will always ask for your help.
The difficulty of Skyrim has levels but the game itself evolves how you play. If you decide to use Heavy Armor and a huge Claymore sword the game will pick on your weakness and send enemies that attack from a distance. If you’re a bow-wielding thief the game will give you harder locks to pick and change the way enemies attack you. Enemies are leveled to you and will progress and get stronger when you do. Remember to save often and NOTE that in the settings you can use the auto-save feature to save at different intervals for you; I chose every 5 minutes.
Replayability is extremely high. Players are unlikely to even try to see everything there is to see in Skyrim let alone experience every mission and task. You can be an Orc, Nord, Breton, Argonian, Kahjiit, Redguard, Dunmer, Bosmer, or Altmer and you can completely change up your play styles and weapon favorites.
Entertainment Value is monumental. There is no limit to what you can do in Skyrim.
SETTING and LEVEL DESIGN 5/5
GRAPHICS and VISUALS 5/5
SOUND, MUSIC, and DIALOGUE 5/5
GAMEPLAY and CONTROLS 4/5
DIFFICULTY, REPLAYABILITY, & ENTERTAINMENT VALUE (Multiplayer Omitted) 5/5
OVERALL SCORE 29/30
Time Played- 45 hours 54 Minutes
Locations Discovered- 114
Game Days Passed- 113
Gold Found- 105,835
Chests Looted- 486
Skill Increases- 382
Skill Books Read- 35
Training Sessions- 90
Quests Completed- 33
Misc Objectives Completed- 36
Thieve's Guild Quests Completed- 9
Dark Brotherhood Quests Completed- 9
People Killed- 212
Animals Killed- 193
Creatures Killed- 21
Undead Killed- 214
Daedra Killed- 8
Favorite Weapon- Ebony Bow
Critical Strikes- 248
Sneak Attacks- 183
Spells Learned- 18
Favorite Spell- Flames
Favorite School of Magic- Destruction
Dragon Souls Collected- 8
Words of Power Learned- 13
Times Shouted- 94
Favorite Shout- Fire Breath
Weapons Made- 3
Armor Made- 46
Potions Mixed- 97
Potions Used- 191
Poisons Mixed- 100
Poisons Used- 31
Ingredients Harvested- 263
Nirnroots found- 15
Locks Picked- 106
Pockets Picked- 25
Items pickpocketed- 132
Items Stolen- 840
and I've killed 2 companions...