Review by Soggy_Burger
"A good game on it's own, but suffers because of the superiority of it's older brethren."
Let me start by saying that the Elder Scrolls is my favorite game series. I played Arena and Daggerfall to death when I was younger, and still own my original copy of each game. I own all the spinoffs, even the bizarre one's like Shadowkey for the N-Gage. But this is where the problems of Skyrim come into play as a poor representation on how Bethesda has had to sell out for better graphics, more detail, and a smaller world overall. The biggest step up in the series is still when Arena's linear gameplay shifted to Daggerfall's huge world, with endless replayability. Since then the series shifted to Morrowind which felt like a beautiful palace as the the time of release, but was flawed in the sense that it was a cramped and confined palace in a small world. This shifted to a focus on graphics and story in Oblivion, which left a lot of gameplay mechanics feeling rough and empty. Skyrim has attempted to fix these problems, and, for the most part they have succeeded. But sadly, Skyrim is still missing a lot of the magic that made the older games in the series such a pleasure to walk into the first time. Arena had the opening sequence with the incredible music, Daggerfall had the live action sequence with the added bonus of walking onto the snowy plains of the Daggerfall province, and Morrowind with "Call of Magic" serenading you as Jiub's gravelly voice wakes you from a nightmare. These moments and more seem to be missing from Skyrim, and it suffers as a result.
The graphics as expected, are excellent. The snowy plains, the lush forests, and wooded hollows, give a clear representation of what to expect as you wander the world of Skyrim, going where you want, when you want. The graphics occasionally suffer from a minor glitch, particularly in water areas, but these are few and far between. A bigger issue would be repetitiveness, but thankfully, Bethesda has made sure that things are varied, and always nice to look at.
The music and sounds are as usual an unbelievable masterpiece as Jeremy Soule has pumped out another magical sound track which accompanies you throughout your travels. The sounds are improved with ever advancing technology, but the true improvement has been in the voice actors. The generic Oblivion voices are gone replaced by many talented actors who know exactly what they are doing, leaving a much more realistic experience in town areas.
The story on the other hand has gone downhill. As mentioned, Bethesda focused heavily on story in Oblivion, but it feels generic this time around. As usual you are a prisoner and your not told why you were in jail in the first place. This time you are being taken to your execution. Right as it is supposed to happen a supposedly extinct dragon makes it's long awaited appearance in an Elder Scrolls game. The city you are in is destroyed entirely but not before you and a companion escape through underground tunnels and out into the world. Later it turns out you are part of another thought extinct race called "Dragonborn", people who can absorb dragon souls and steal their powers. After travelling to a dojo to improve this power from masters of these "shouts", you face the all powerful dragon from the beginning of the game. It feels slippery, generic, and not well though out in the slightest. Meanwhile the Empire and a rebellious group called the Stormcloaks are fighting for total control of Skyrim. You can join either side with varying consequences, in a much more gripping storyline in the usual battle for political power in ES games.
The gameplay is where the game struggles as Skyrim focuses so much on combat that it feels more like a combat simulator at times. Many games have suffered from this such as the often criticized Star Wars: Bounty Hunter. The game was well received but criticized for repetitive combat. Skyrim has a tendency for the following to take place. A pack of wolves attacks, then bandits, then Necromancers, then creatures and finally when your all out of healing potions and magic and are barely alive, your attacked by this games version of a giant rat, the skeever. It becomes so damn repetitive after a while that you feel like your just in this game to fight monsters and nothing else. It's maddening.
To make matters worse, the controls in this game are atrocious. Button mashing is the way to go and even then it's unresponsive and clunky. The interfaces have taken a huge step backwards in an attempt to be modern. It's just an unbelievable mess.
In close Skyrim disappoints because it doesn't match up to older games that it SHOULD be better then. But It's not. It's unfortunate, but it's the cost of selling out.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 01/25/12
Game Release: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (US, 11/11/11)
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