Review by the_follower457

"A review of Skyrim"

Most games can't live up to the hype generated before the release, but “The Elder Scrolls V: Syrim” comes close and maybe even exceeds gamers' expectations. With an estimated game time of 400 hours, the player can get lost in the powerful magic and captivating story line. Far more than a video game, “Skyrim” is an immersive adventure full of mystery, danger and reward.

The game takes place in the fantasy province of “Skyrim” in the midst of a civil war. One half of the country, the Imperial Army, wants to remain with the empire that has deteriorated and the other half, Stormcloaks, wants to break away from the empire. Your “character” is found at the wrong place at the wrong time and is being lead to your execution by the Imperial Army. Just as you are about to be beheaded, a dragon, seen for the first time in over 1,000 years, attacks the army base. You use this opportunity to escape and, as the story line moves on, you find out that you are Dovahkiin or dragon-born and exhibit talents of the dragon. From that point in the game, you can choose to continue on the main quest and resolve the plot with the dragons; you can take sides in the civil war and resolve that conflict; you can join one of the many guilds and rise through the ranks and become a leader; or, you can do any combination of these. As an alternative, you can just wander around and do whatever you decide at the moment, including zapping chickens with lightening. The main goal of the game is to stop Alduin, the head dragon, from devouring the world. Skyrim is the fifth game in Elder Scrolls series taking place 200 years after the previous game, Oblivion, developed by Bethesda Software. Each game takes place chronologically, but the game doesn't need to be played in order to enjoy the story line.

One of the many improvements from the previous game is the archery skill which is actually useful and powerful instead of, as in Oblivion, feeling like you are just sticking needles into the enemies. Another improvement is the removal of the class system for leveling up. In Oblivion, you chose 7 skills at the beginning of the game and you leveled up by improving those skills. In Skyrim, every skill contributes to your level, allowing for much greater freedom. For example, when I started playing, my character was primarily a magic user, but as time went on, I transitioned to more of a stealthy assassin type play style. Admittedly, it wasn't as easy as it would have been if I started out that way but that was more my fault than the game's. The leveling system has also improved in regards to your enemies. In Oblivion, they leveled up along with you, but while you may have leveled up using noncombat skills such as alchemy, the enemies always put all of their points into combat-related abilities which actually made the game harder as you got more powerful. Skyrim, on the other hand, still levels up some of the enemies with you, but not as drastically, letting you feel like you are actually getting more powerful while still making the game a challenge.

Although Skyrim is a great game, it isn't perfect. There are still some glitches and although some are harmless or funny – wooly mammoths launching into the sky and falling to their deaths – they can also cause major problems. At one point I was doing a quest for the Mage's Guild and fought my way through an ancient ruin only to encounter a puzzle at the end that was not working correctly, leaving me unable to continue the quest until the bug was fixed. In addition, the game sometimes closes without warning forcing you to load your last save. I mentioned before that I was playing as a stealth/assassin type character but that sometimes seems overpowered when my sneak attacks do 30X damage and can kill a dragon in 2 hits. But then again, I have to sneak up on the dragon in the first place and that isn't exactly easy unless it's asleep.

While these are minor annoyances, they are more often humorous. The scope of the game is amazing and even after completing the main quest, there are still hundreds of locations left to explore and many more quests to complete. “Skyrim” offers gamers the best of the gaming world: magical creatures, exciting adventure, and an immersive environment with a plethora of choices. What better way to spend 400 hours?

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/22/12

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

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