The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is the first legit RPG I’ve ever played, aside from Pokemon Pearl and two hours of Fallout 3. And boy, what a great one to start with! From the seemingly never ending world that expands for an area of 24.5 square miles (41 sqaure kilometers), to the groups of mammoths grazing on the fields being herded by giants, to the Bandit infested mines filled with raw materials that will make your mouth water, to the potion making and the weapon enchanting, this game is unbelievable. You have to literally try to be bored while playing this game.
Click "READ MORE" to see why I gave Skyrim a 27/30!
Taking place in the northern-most part of the world of Tamriel, you play as Dovakiin, a child born with the mythical power known as “Dragonborn”. The player is thrown into Skyrim, riding a horse carriage leading to a town named “Helgen” to be executed. As the executioner is raising his battleaxe to finish the deal and behead our hero, a ghastly dragon attacks the city. Dragonborn works his way out of the currently incinerating town through underground caverns and passageways until the exit is reached. From here, players are free to do as their heart so desires. By following your main quests (the quests that progress the story), you learn of the awakening of the ancient dragons. Alongside that, factions are raging civil war against each other. You must follow Dragonborn’s destiny, as you are taught how to keep the dragons at bay and finish them off for good. The story is masterfully well paced and has yet to leave me wondering how I got to this point or why I’m going on a certain quest.
Busy towns and hostile bandit camps litter the snow covered landscape of Skyrim. The dark and gloomy Shrubbery graciously swaying with the wind, waterfalls that can propel yourself and other critters over rocks with incredible force, several different biomes all with referring terrains, and breathtakingly gorgeous day-to-night cycles are just some things Bethesda has done with the Creation Game Engine.
In the ectasy of discovering a new town, players can walk amongst the natives as they go about their daily routines. Each NPC will address you directly once you’ve addressed them, and most of them surprisingly have something unique to say. The reason I use the term “surprisingly” is because with the amount of NPCs’ in this game, it’s impressive that quotes weren’t recycled.
The dungeons in this Elder Scrolls installment are a huge part of the exploring aspect of the game. Each dungeon you dive into seems like a virgin experience because there aren’t any two dungeons that look alike. The pathways are different, the baddies are of varying breeds, and the puzzles and traps are never similar to one’s you’ve previously experienced. After all, unique is Todd Howard’s middle name! Right?
To put it simply, this game is art. If I were to be put in a situation of picking one game to consider art, Skyrim would probably be my first pick. It’s astonishing how I can leave my house in the middle of the night, look up, and find it difficult to tell if the in game sky is just raw footage of an actual night sky, it is that realistic.
In some reviews I’ve read, the writer’s only gripe related to the graphics was how muddy some things looked when you got right up close to them. I’d have to agree with that. Getting as close to a mountain side as possible and staring straight at it gives it an almost comic book look, similar to that of Borderlands ( I love the way Borderlands looks, but it just doesn’t belong in Skyrim at all). But I’m not going to take points off for that, because I can’t think of a game that doesn’t have a similar effect on objects when you are directly on top of them.
The designs of the many different creatures are incredibly beautiful. My current favorite look is that of the giant. The detail that Bethesda put into these huge and wise mobs is both majestic and intimidating. The hair is impressively done, and doesn’t have much of the “block of hair” effect typically seen where you can see the outline of the hair, making it seem like a Lego piece thrown onto a scalp. Facial details aren’t anything special, but are defiantly above average. Cloth textures have a very fine quality. Shadows at the feet of your warrior while you sneak through a cavern, or run through an open field, are masterfully crafted and have the ability of changing size and boldness depending on the environment. I can’t say enough. Skyrim is a piece of art and should be recognized as such.
If I game can make me afraid of my own footsteps, it’s doing something right. There’s nothing more creepy than trying to sneak around some blood-thirsty trolls and hearing your footsteps louder than ever. With each step of the way, you hear your armor shake and you hear Dragonborn breathing. All this does is add to the atmosphere of warfare and hostility.
Using 100+ voice actors, every NPC will say something to you. If you’re engaged in a conversation with someone, they will still continue whatever activity they were engaging in before you so rudely interrupted. Sometimes it does seem as if the voice actor forgot if they had an accent or not, and I am starting to feel as if one or two voice actors got too many roles and I’m hearing them too often. NPC mouths don’t always follow along with what is being said, but I’ll cut some slack on that because there is such a large amount of different lines each character could possibly say.
The music is godly. That’s an understatement, but I don’t quite know a better word to describe it with. A full orchestra and male choir are possibly the only way to make battles in this game more epic and intense than they already are. Hearing your name being chanted as you battle a ferocious cave bear is like having adrenaline injected directly into your body, Nikki Sixx style. I plan to buy this soundtrack, and I have never bought a video game soundtrack in my life, so that’s saying something.
Controls are probably my biggest issue with this game. On multiple accounts (way too many than qualifying it as a typical glitch every game has), my controls have either freeze or would perform their jobs without me pushing them. Bethesda is notorious for control issues with their most popular franchises, Fallout and The Elder Scrolls. Bethesda has released an official statement saying they have made a patch that will fix these problems and will be out shortly. I wish that Bethesda would’ve fixed these issues before the game was released so that a patch wouldn’t have been necessary.
Another issue I have that isn’t a glitch is the input lag when it comes to crouching/standing. In a tight situation where I have no time to waste, the last thing I want to do is get a late jump on running away from enemies because I didn’t stand up from crouch after I pushed the correct buttons. Don’t get me wrong, the game is still very much playable and I’m sure these issues will be fixed with the patch. But this review is based on the content on the disc on day 1, and because of that I’m going to take off two points for controls.
Skyrim’s learning curve is probably one of the best I’ve ever experienced in a game. Bethesda used it’s incredibly advanced game engine to allow the AI to learn from your play style. As your different skills increase, enemy spawns and difficulties are changed to always pose a threat to Dovakiin. This always keeps you on your toes, and will always give you a sense of urgency every time an enemy comes into your field of view.
Bethesda constructed possibly one of the coolest and most advanced quest systems I am aware of. Dubbed “The Radiant Quest System”, this gives the game essentially infinite quests. AI in the game learns from your adventures and can know what parts of the map you have yet to visit. Quests will be formulated to intentionally make you discover every last inch of the landscape. Instead of just allowing “free play” after you finish the story where you wander around aimlessly, with no quests and no direction, you will always have a quest to start. If anyone wants to accept the challenge of making the game run out of quests to give, tell us in the comments and we’ll get back to you in five years! Needless to say with a quantity of possible content like this, the entertainment value is through the roof!
I’m away from my PS3 right now, so I can’t post the stats that Danny did in his review. Danny played Skyrim on the 360, and you can read that review HERE. Skyrim initially was not a game I was interested in. But solely because of Danny’s excellent coverage of the game all throughout its development, I was convinced! No, I’m not just sucking up to my “boss”, I’m being dead serious! I have to say thank you to him for introducing me to this magnificent title and this magnificent series. I am already looking forward to buying The Elder Scrolls 6, whenever that is to be released!
PLOT and STORY:
SETTING and LEVEL DESIGN:
GRAPHICS and VISUALS:
SOUND, MUSIC, and DIALOGUE:
CONTROLS and GAMEPLAY:
DIFFICULTY, REPLAYABILTIY, and ENTERTAINMENT VALUE (Multiplayer Omitted)
OVERALL SCORE: 27/30