Review by BigReed
"One of the few games released this generation that will still be talked about fifteen years from now"
Tons of content, living world, fun and interesting quests, new leveling system with perks, many different ways to play
The main story is a bit short
Skyrim is the fifth entry into the critically acclaimed, and fan favorite Elder Scrolls series. Like the other entries, Skyrim is an open world game that encourages heavy player customization and exploration. Releasing last November, Skyrim may be a single player game, but there are literally hundreds of hours of game time to be had. Multiple characters, DLC, and a very active community make Skyrim a game that will be played and loved years from today.
Bethesda is a company known for several things. One of those things is bugs or glitches in their games, and another is deep role playing experiences that pretty much allow the player to do whatever his or her heart desires. Skyrim has a gigantic world, and a brand new leveling system that rewards the player for playing the game how they see fit. Any of the many skill trees you use will give you experience. These categories included for leveling include: Smithing, light and heavy armor, one and two handed swords, many forms of magic, archery, and several others. These can be leveled all the way to one hundred, and with each level in these categories your overall level is raised. Eventually, once you fully level up you are able to raise your health, magic, or stamina, then you are allowed to pick a perk in one of the categories you can level.
The Perk system is an awesome addition to the Elder Scrolls series, and gives a serious boost to any of the skill trees you choose to add to. If you want bows to do more damage or have a higher critical hit rate, keep using bows and add perks to archery. If you want a full set of your favorite armor to get a serious boost in protection, level the light or heavy armor skill trees. The one negative to the perk system is that once you choose a perk, or many perks, you cannot reassign them. This is a huge problem as you get into the later levels; because your character is set into the certain build you chose throughout the game. For example, I played a destruction mage build up through the first forty levels; I then switched to a stealth archer but my entire perk points were in Magic so my archer build was much weaker then what it could have been if I began with that style of play from the beginning. Some perks are essential for every build, and unless you begin your character with a specifically planned build from the start, you'll burn through some perks learning how to play the game.
The driving force of the gameplay is the large portfolio of both named and miscellaneous quests. Questing happens in almost every corner of Skyrim, and the world feels so alive because of the variation and unpredictability of its inhabitants. Without spoiling any of the game, some quest lines vary so dramatically that my game was drastically more different during the Dark Brotherhood quest line, than my friends was. Very few games actually feel alive, and Skyrim has a game world where everyone has different stories to share when they do the same things. Bethesda games, unlike most role playing games, generally have a short story, but a huge amount of outside quests that also contribute to the story. All of my best experiences in Skyrim were during the games large array of side content. Bethesda set out to make a giant game where the player creates their own experience, and they accomplished this perfectly.
While Skyrim is considered a role playing game, the combat system is actually more like an action game. The combat isn't anything like God of War or Bayonetta in terms of action, but everything you do is in real time, and the world continues to go on regardless of where you are or if you are fighting. I personally enjoyed the combat in Skyrim. It provides plenty of variety because of the many forms of magic and physical attacks, including trickier ways in which you can force enemies to attack their comrades. On top of the basic combat, there is also the inclusion of Shouts, or dragon words that allow for special abilities. Before the release of Skyrim, Bethesda in many interviews made it seem like there were more shouts than are actually in the game. But there are only twenty shouts in the main game, and each shout has three separate words that add to the power and duration of said shouts. The shouts are very diversified though, so I'm not quite sure why they tried to make it seem like there were more. Another good thing about the shout system is that the shouts recharge over time as opposed to using magic. So the shouts act as a separate ability for you to implement in combat.
Finally, another thing Skyrim adds is dragons that are encountered both randomly and at certain landmarks on the map. These dragon battles can happen anywhere, and frequently. This is both a good and a bad thing. Dragons can appear in cities and kill NPCs, and can prevent fast traveling without actually engaging you. The first few battles are tough and exhilarating, but eventually you'll have a surplus of dragon souls and killing them will become easy and tedious. Even after killing plenty of dragons however, I still enjoyed the fights as long as they weren't back to back An interesting thing is that the dragons can appear while you're already in combat, which adds a complexity to engagements. Dragon bones also remain where the dragon is killed for the rest of the time you play Skyrim, which can clutter up the environment.
On top of fantastic gameplay, Skyrim also has graphics and sound that set an atmospheric tone throughout the game. Plenty of Skryim is covered in mountains and snow storms and has the player wondering, and eager to explore. The only thing graphically unappealing about skyrim is the facial expressions. Faces have multiple shades of color, and from the nose up faces appear stiff, while the mouths move during conversations. This provides and odd look when speaking with NPCs.
Skyrim's sound also gives the game a mysterious adventure vibe. The great thing is none of the music interferes with the exploration. It's subtle, yet very well done.
Bethesda has once again provided such a massive experience of a game, that some other companies should feel ashamed with what they offer for the same price of sixty dollars. While other games are priced at sixty dollars, and often have day one dlc for another ten to fifteen dollars, Skyrim has hundreds of hours of content. Even the dlc for Skryim, Dawnguard, was offered up almost six months after the actual games release. After playing both, I clocked in 125 hours of game time, and all of it was enjoyable. Not many games can offer this much fun gameplay.
Skryim is not only one of the best games this generation; it is also one of the best games ever made. Ten or fifteen years from now, few games from this generation will still be played and talked about. Think back to the SNES or another older console. How many games from that console are still talked about and have an active community? Not very many. The same will happen after this generation is finally over, which is a shame considering how much social media and the internet have contributed to communication and gaming. Professional reviewers often feel pressure from large publishers because they sometimes contribute plenty of money to the parent companies, or directly to the gaming website or magazine. But gamers are the ones who decide which games are truly special.
If you have an Xbox 360, Skryim needs to be in your collection. Even if you aren't a fan of role playing games, Skyrim does enough to appeal to anybody who has ever held a controller. If you end up playing Skryim, also consider purchasing the DLC Dawnguard which is another fun 25-30 hours of content.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 08/14/12
Game Release: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (US, 11/11/11)
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