Review by ArgentumVir
"Memorable, Exciting, and Couldn't be Any Better"
The Elder Scrolls series has reached it's 5th entry, Skyrim. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the series, The Elder Scrolls or simply TES, is a RPG franchise published by Bethesda. On the Xbox, and Xbox 360 platform, they are open world RPGs. Take on quests, jobs, and save the day. Join a faction, kill people, save people, or ignore people. The series enables you to do as you will and accept the consequences.
Skyrim is the newest entry in the series. You begin the game bound and en route to your execution. When you arrive, you must build your character. You may choose from multiple races, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. You then customize your character right down to the war paint on their face. The attention to detail is astonishing.
The game itself is beautiful, filled with rich environments, rolling landscapes, and realistic looking textures. When you are in the cart en route to your execution, observe and enjoy the ride even though you know where the destination is. If you pay attention, you can see the treetops swaying, snow whirling, and the expressions of the fellow prisoners. The first time you stand on the brink or a cliff and just look at all your surroundings, is in awe. It's all incredibly immersive.
With all they've managed to squeeze into the world, I'm surprised there is only one disk. There are some problems though. Some textures have trouble loading, and sometimes objects don't appear until you're within arrow range. This occurred much more frequently when I installed the game to my 360 HDD. I've had some objects get stuck in the air, and companions sink into the ground. These are small problems, and I've yet to encounter more than a few anomalies in one session. Generally, you're too deep in battle to notice most of these things though.
Skyrim's gameplay is based upon an already successful game, Oblivion. Beyond the basics however, the game mechanics are 10 times better than Oblivion's. Let's start with battle. You can wield many different weapons in this game. How you wield them is totally up to you. The biggest additions to the system is the ability to dual wield. Whether that includes two weapons, spells or a combination of the two. Bows no longer feel like toys. There is literally thousands of ways to play this game, and unless you want to play it the same way twice, it won't be the same way twice. Do you want to be an assassin, or maybe an archer? Battlemage, or pure mage? Swing a sword, fire a bow, or even jettison mixed spells. I will say though, if you didn't like Oblivion's system, you most likely won't like Skyrim either.
In addition to the upgraded battle system, the way skills work has received attention as well. Now as you level up, you receive Skill Points. When you reach a certain level in a skill, you may use these points to progress your prowess in them. When you do, you will receive a perk. It can be either passive, or it must be activated.
Skyrim also features a full-fledged crafting system. From smithing, to enchantment, if you can't find it, steal it, or buy it, then you can make it.
All in all, an open world means there is many things to do. From cutting wood, to dungeon diving, but the most important thing to remember is, It's not what you can do, but who you do it to, and who you do it for.
In Skyrim, there are many missions, or quests to do. There are many types of quests. Many of which may be mundane or seemingly unimportant. Remember, it's not the destination that counts, it's the journey. Help these people out for small rewards and gratitude. The bigger quests feature the slaying of monsters, and bad guys. Sometimes the quests require your judgment to reach a satisfactory outcome. Do you help a pretty woman kill a bunch of people, or do you listen to the reasonable assassins. Many quests appeal to your sense of honor, or lack thereof.
The main story line is epic to say the least. You play as the only Dragonborn to be born in centuries. Your coming is like the small stones that cause a rock slide, as dragons return and a revolution roils, you must choose a side. The main quest itself is a few hours long. Mostly because you don't have the ability to fast travel to major cities from the get go. Again, you must remember that there are many other quests besides the main story.
The nice thing about Skyrim is that you don't have to play Oblivion. The game takes place many years after Oblivion. The story missions however, can be a bit tedious sometimes. A few of them are fetch quests requiring the retrieval of important objects. Some require you to hike long distances, and if you don't have a fast travel location near your destination, it can be time consuming to get there. Some require you to face a tough enemy, and the unprepared beware. You may ask, If there is so much stuff to do before and after the story, what's the replay value?
Replay Value 10/10
The world of Skyrim is not empty as the world of Oblivion. There are many animals. Some are small, some are incredibly large, there are some that are hostile, and there are some that are passive. As you move through the wilderness, you might startle a warren of rabbits, or stir a flock of crows from a tree. The most amazing thing is that you never feel alone, even without a companion. This is something that I felt Oblivion could never do.
That being said, I never get tired of the lush and varying environments of Skyrim. The contents of the world are packed tightly into a map about the size of Oblivion. There is always something to do. Whether that's stalking game, or delving into a dungeon, I guarantee, if you like this game, you'll want to experiment with 2 or more characters. This game is easily worth 80+ hours. If you're like me though, you'll play to hear the music.
The first thing I noticed when I first started the game was the opening music. It was an epic beginning for one of the most epic games yet. I always listen to the opening track; it gets me pumped to slay at least one dragon before I turn the game off. This great soundtrack extended into the game. From energetic battle music, to tranquil marching music. This game has it all.
Final Score 10/10
To-date, this game is one of the most perfect games I've played. It's definitely worth a buy, if not a permanent spot in your library. If you enjoyed Oblivion, you will love this game. If you didn't, you owe it to yourself to at least rent it. If you've never played an Elder Scroll game, now is a great time to jump in, and begin your life in Skyrim.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/14/11
Game Release: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (US, 11/11/11)
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