Wow I really ought to get the award for latest game review ever! Yes, would you believe it if I told you I was reviewing a game that was released almost 8 months ago? Oh well it’s about time I did I suppose since Skyrim was easily one of the most anticipated games of 2011. Bethesda Softworks’s bread and butter is the Elder Scrolls series but did it live up to all the hype?
The plot is okay – it’s your usual Fantasy Fare: you’re a relatively obscure character that somehow becomes everyone’s salvation as foretold by some almost forgotten prophecy. You know I even should award fewer points because just like the previous two Elder Scrolls games, you start off as a prisoner! However the huge background and history of the world known as Tamriel is interesting and detailed, mainly thanks to the many Elder Scrolls games before it.
Like the previous Bethesda Softworks game, Fallout 3, the main plot is only a tiny portion of the rest of the game and it ends rather abruptly with little fanfare. However, if you’ve played Bethesda Softworks games over the past decade – this is hardly a surprise. Plus there’s a lot of alternate quests and storylines to pursue including an interesting civil war between the Imperial Legion and the Stormcloaks. Reminds me of this intro actually…
But with fewer spaceships – and probably not as interesting battles…
Overall, the game is a fun game to play. I was a bit annoyed about the elimination of classes entirely and the fact your character can do just about anything but it quickly passed. Like previous Elder Scrolls games this is an open world action RPG where people go about their daily business regardless of whether you’re around or not. Combat is a simple affair where you use a combination of mouse clicks and swipes to do different actions, whether it’s shielding an attack, firing arrows or casting a spell.
What is different about Skyrim however is the huge number of customisation options you have available in terms of crafting armour, weapons and potions. It’s quite a simple system too since even I got into it (and usually I can’t be bothered due to the complexity involved).
Also, you're able to use shouts like this one which did the internet meme circuits towards the end of last year:
The shouts are a skill that basically gives you an edge in combat, especially against dragons.
The audio is a bit soft by default, which is slightly annoying and the voice acting is generally poor for most characters. Once again, this is pretty usual for Elder Scrolls games barring major characters (Patrick Stewart was pretty awesome as Uriel Septim in Oblivion – too bad he dies at the beginning).
The soundtrack actually took awhile to grow on me, but grow on me it did. Morrowind’s soundtrack still happens to be may favourite out of the three that Jeremy Soule have done for the series but Skyrim has quickly become my second best now. Jeremy once again delivers a soundtrack that is glorious and beautiful.
The music is also timed very well with the action sequences in the game. You'll very soon recognise the music that plays which warns you a dragon is circling overhead...
Animations and graphics are generally similar to Fallout 3 which in turn is derived from Oblivion’s engine. So in that regard, the graphics aren’t that great. However, the jaw-dropping scenery of the Nord homeland is sensational and has to be seen to be believed. Add to this fact that you can occasionally see the aurora borealis and you end up with a game that has truly magical graphics... as long as you ignore the clipping and poor animations...
Thanks to the modding tools available and the mods that have been generated as a result, this game has a high replay value. True the main quest is a bit short compared to the rest of the game but there’s a big chunk of quests to complete out there and with different races. I only focused on the main quest any maybe did 50% of the side quests and that still took over 50 hours to complete. I’ve heard of people playing for over 200 hours and still not exploring the whole game yet.
The interface is generally an intuitive and clean one – except when it came to picking favourite skills/spells/weapons. It would’ve been nicer if they had a more traditional method of having a slot to place a weapon combination and then assigning it to a hotkey. Instead you have to pause the game and switch weapons that way (or at least I haven't found another way to do). Probably a result of the game being ported to console perhaps? The game also has the usual collection of quest bugs you’d normally find in an RPG.
Score - 9/10Skyrim is a worthy successor to Oblivion. Nothing really has changed much in terms of the formula but if it ain’t broke why fix it? You could do worse than trying out this masterpiece (like taking an arrow to the knee for instance - okay sorry that one's been done to death :)).
If you want to get the game, you can get it off Steam.
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