Review by rubicon14

"An Immense, Powerful Experience"

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim -- An Immense, Powerful Experience
Score: 9/10 (Outstanding)

OVERVIEW
Skyrim is one of the best video games ever made, period. The size and depth of this game is simply breathtaking. I played it for hours each day until I beat it, and then picked it up again later and it felt like coming back to a familiar, welcoming place. Any fan of adventure or RPG games absolutely must buy Skyrim, and experience it for themselves.

GRAPHICS/AUDIO
Skyrim is arguably the most beautiful game ever made. The outdoor environments are jaw-dropping. I don't use that word as a cliche -- there were a few times during this game that my mouth fell open because it looked that good. And what's great is that different people might have those moments at different times during the game. The attention to detail is so high that you can rush through whole areas, and suddenly feel the urge to stop for a second and look around, and find yourself amazed by Dwarven ruins, aurora borealis in the sky, or a dragon doing battle with an entire town. Character models are fairly simple, and occasionally glitch or feature misplaced textures, but they don't really detract from the overall experience, thanks to the beauty of the game's environments and landscapes. Snow capped mountains and ice filled caves convey cold and danger just was well as the glow of a hearth fire convey warmth and safety.

Skyrim also features the best soundtrack and use of music in any video game, ever. The opening theme is memorable, and the operatic singing will start when you engage in major battles, giving the game a truly heroic feel. Background music is generally soothing and really makes you feel like you are travelling through a fantasy, Nord/Viking-filled world. The music rises with combat, falls with resting, and stays positive during long travels.

I can't say enough about how good Skyrim looks and sounds.

GAMEPLAY
Every person's experience with Skyrim will be a little bit different because of the inherent randomness and different choices the player can make, but the freedom and flexibility to build your character and interact with the world are all part of the appeal. Want to be a heroic warrior who fights for good and justice? Go ahead. Want to be an evil wizard who manipulates and destroys for personal gain? Fine. Want to be a morally ambiguous thief who steals but also helps the poor? No problem. You can be any of those things, or anything inbetween, and the world will react accordingly. You can buy or build a home (build with DLC anyway), get married, have kids (again with DLC), raid countless dungeons, hunt giants and dragons, collect bounties on bandits, explore ruins, learn spells, craft weapons, enchant equipment....the list of things you can do in Skyrim is almost too long to list. And most of it is fun.

Where the game suffers, and why I refuse to give it a perfect score, is in repetition. There is a lot to do, but if you raid one dungeon, you'll have the same experience in most dungeons. And when you get to a high level, it's very hard to find a challenge. Without using any cheats or exploits, by the time I hit level 40-something, I was practically invincible, and took down the end boss in minutes with minimal effort. Also, most of the quests are of the overused RPG formula variety: kill this or take that or fetch this or steal that and come back. The lack of challenges at higher levels, and the lack of diversity in the quests, gets tiresome eventually. But I've found that putting it down and coming back a little later makes this less of an issue and keeps the game fresh and exciting.

STORY
The main plotline of Skyrim is really only a fraction of the total game, as most of the world is populated and colored by side quests. Some of those side quests have very interesting and compelling story lines. The main plot is very compelling by itself, and focuses on the return of the dragons. There is also a political struggle between the Empire and the Rebel Stormcloaks that you can take a side in (or not - your choice). It's a big world, and you really feel like a part of it, because it reacts to you and the choices you make, as well as having a plot of its own.

RENT/BUY
Just buy Skyrim. It's too big to rent, and I can't imagine an RPG or adventure gamer not falling in love with this game.

VERDICT
Skyrim is one of the best video games ever made. Its only flaws are the result of just how big the game is, which is understandable. Score: 9/10 (Outstanding)


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 01/22/13

Game Release: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (US, 11/11/11)


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