Thursday, March 1, 2012

HS x VG: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Oh boy. Put your reading glasses on for this one.

So maybe a review of this video game is a little late seeing as it came out in November, but regardless it's here. Also I'm not gonna lie, I'm not completely done this game. But I've clocked in 100+ hours already so I think I can say a few things about it.

I picked this up for Xbox 360, I did a graphics comparison before I went out and aside from PC, Xbox 360 was the winner. Sorry PS3, you know I love you. Besides my Xbox 360 could use more games, it's turning into a $300.00 Mass Effect playing machine.

Skyrim is huge and I mean that in every sense. Frankly it baffles me how they managed to stuff all this into one disc. From the lush environments to whatever it is that you're wielding. This game is huge.

It is a *gasp* open world first person action role-playing game *exhale*. It is as it sounds. You run around in an open world, doing quests (either main story quests or miscellaneous other quests for people) while killing things with swords or magic or whatever tickles your spine.

The short of it is: Skyrim is in turmoil after the murder of Imperial High King Torygg by Ulfric Stormcloak, leader of the rebel faction the Stormcloaks. You take on the role of Dragonborn, or Dovahkiin in the Dragon language, who is currently on his/her's way to their execution. As you are about to get your head chopped off, a big silly, thought to be extinct, dragon interrupts allowing you to flee with either a Stormcloak soldier named Ralof or an Imperial Soldier by the name of Hadvar. Whichever you choose, the path to revealing that you are the legendary Dragonborn is revealed by the prophecy foretold in the Elder Scrolls.

And that would have to be the geekiest synopsis I have ever written for anything ever.

So off the bat.

What I did like.

Being a Fallout 3 and New Vegas fan, this game played like a dream. If you've played Halo or Call of Duty or anything of the sort like that, you'll pick this game up, no problem. That's how well it plays.

The graphics are stunning, I could run around in awe for hours. So much attention to details. What I particularly liked was the skies. Not many games care about the skies, but the skies in Skyrim were dynamic.

Depending on what was going on in the sky, you will notice on the ground just by the lighting it casts. Over casts gave the land a dreary look, moonlight from the dark sky lit everything up like radioactivity, sunlight beamed across the land and you could see for what seemed like miles. It's the little things you know?

If you've played Oblivion or know of it at least, you'll know that this game is a complete graphical overhaul in the Elder Scrolls series. Honestly, Oblivion looked like butt. Take a look below.

Oblivion, everybody looks like crayons that were moulded to sorta look like "people". So yeah, Skyrim graphics are cripsy.

The whole lore behind The Elder Scrolls world is massive. If something counts as a noun then chances are it has a story behind it. The last game I found to be this in depth was Mass Effect and even then, Mass Effect's lore is only a mere fraction compared to The Elder Scrolls. Mind you I have never played any of the other Elder Scrolls games, but I've read a crap load about them. You could probably fill a bookshelf with all of it.

I love the sense of adventure in this game. This point I can't really explain, it's just something different. Just accept it.

After +100 hours, I still haven't completed the main story of this game. There is just so much to do. I could see myself playing this game for another 100 hours to be honest, and I don't have a problem with that.

What I didn't like.

My last point I said there was much to do. Well in this point I'm saying there is too much to do. Honestly.

Scenario, I'm running from one town to another town because a quest requires me to. When I get to the new town, everybody wants you to solve their stupid problems.

"There are too many skeletons in the mines. Please kill them all."
"I need 10 bear pelts because I hate bears."
"I really like old swords, get me one."

So I oblige to all these townsfolk, because I get sidetracked easy. By the time you're done all these quests, things are way different from when you first entered the town/city. You're the leader of a guild, you're wearing new stuff and everybody loves you. What was the original quest you were doing? Who cares, probably wasn't important.

A lot of these quests tend to get very repetitive. I had to take a break from this game because I simply got bored of it, granted I'm back into it and I still enjoy it a lot.

It's all "go in a dungeon, kill things, get something, return it to someone, get something else, bring it to this person". It just keeps going and going. All this wouldn't be so bad if the game didn't have to load every time I opened a door or fast travelled.

The loading gets painful after a while. When you traverse all of Skyrim, you discover points that get marked down on your map and the quickest way to get around is "fast travelling" which is essentially, pick a point on the map, go there. If I fast travel to some place where I wanna buy a sword or something, I go, load screen, run for ten seconds, open a door, load screen, talk to the guy, buy my thing, leave, load screen, fast travel back to wherever, load screen. I read more facts about the world of Skyrim than I actually get to play.

In Skyrim you get companions and companions hurt my feelings. As you run around Skyrim you run into people that can follow you on your adventure. They do help out a bit, but they tend to get in the way more often. Most of the time they pick fights you don't need/want.

If I'm running around and I just want to get to the next town because I'm hurting or out of potions I don't need a fight. But of course a dragon will appear out of thin air and of course your companion has to start shooting arrows at the damn thing. Since it's a dragon, you get done up right quick and you gotta load back to your last save point, which may have been an hour ago.

Companions also have this tendency to just vanish. At some point you'll forget that you had a companion and when you look around for him/her, they're nowhere to be found. Sometimes you give them things to hold onto, because they're essentially pack mules with swords, and when you need a certain thing from them, they're gone. Chances are they're dead because they picked a fight with a bear. So say good bye to all that hot loot you found you think you may need because this game shaped you into a hoarder.

The menu system took me a while to get a hang of. It's separated into two menus. The one menu is your personalization, that includes your inventory (weapons, armour, etc.), your skills set, your magic and your map. The other menu has your quests and options. It is a bit cumbersome to go between the two menus all the time. I found it unnecessary to put quests in a different menu. If they had thrown the quests into the first menu, I would've been a happy camper.

Case and Point

Alright it seems that I knock on this game more than I actually like it and truthfully I could keep going on and on about the flaws because frankly it's easier to complain than to say something nice.

What I'm trying to get at is, the cons of this game are so miniscule, you only notice them because you've clocked in 100+ hours and it's 4AM and you're tired. But nevertheless you're up at 4AM playing a wonderfully crafted video game, that is simply beautiful and exciting to play.

This is a bloody awesome game, I'd almost say the best I've played in 2011 and 2012 and it sets the standards high for any other games that are coming out in 2012.

Should you go out and buy it? By the Eights, yes. You won't be disappointed.

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