(After a long hiatus, I am back again.I wasn’t able to review any games due to the facts I’ve mentioned in the post below, but thankfully, I’ll be able to work on the blog more frequently now. Here’s my Skyrim review for the PlayStation 3 system)
Behold, one of the best and the buggiest game of 2011. Skyrim is finally upon us. Yes, it is one of the best games of the year and while it doesn’t really revolutionize the RPG genre, it is still an excellent addition.This game will force you, and with good reason, to invest dozens of hours of your life.
The game takes place 200 years after the events of Oblivion in the region of Skyrim, north of Tamriel. The region is the native land of Nords. The land of Skyrim is gripped in a cold civil war between the empire and the Stormcloaks, the rebel group of Nords.
The game starts with you being carried in a cart to beheading with other Nords. Obviously the Imperial soldiers assumed that you were with the Stormcloaks and decide to hand out your punishment(It was all due to an error on their part, as it will be explained as you progress further in the game). Before your beheading event, however, appears a Dragon which makes the village of Helgen tremble, then you would have to escape with your fellow prisoners.
The first thing you’ll notice about Skyrim is its beauty. The game is gorgeous. The graphics, while not flawless, give an impression of a living, breathing world. Upon closer inspection, the graphics don’t look as good as they do when looking from some distance away, but that shouldn’t be a problem. The weather changes include fog and as you move north or up in the mountains, you would find your field of view shrinking due to it. Skyrim has a vast range of flora and fauna, and they are all at your disposal.
The combat system has been improved from Oblivion and the tutorial level takes you through the village of Helgen. As you escape from the Dragon in Helgen, basics of the game will be explained to you. You can choose to wield the weapons and spells any way you want. You can either dual wield two swords, or a shield and a sword, or go with magic spells. There are a wide variety of weapons for you to choose from, most powerful ones appearing later in the game. The control scheme is pretty simple. You attack with your R1 button and defend with your L1 button, depending on your chosen weapons. If you are dual wielding spells, the appropriate Right or Left shoulder button will function as the attack trigger of the spell. You can assign shortcuts to your weapons and armor, however, and I personally love the change.
Leveling up is done in a simple manner as opposed to the one in Oblivion. You level up as you use the skills. For example, the more you use your sword, the more you’ll improve your Melee skill. The skill system is not affected by how many people you actually kill. The more you use something, the more your skills in that particular field will grow. Unlike Oblivion, I found that Skyrim allows a pretty excellent gaming option with your bow. Bows in Oblivion were highly unstable and frankly, I didn’t see the point of bows in Oblivion. In Skyrim, however, this is different. Bows do actually matter in the game. You will see a lot of foes wielding bows, and some of them will kill you in one shot unless you’re careful. Magic skills could be developed further. As I’ve experienced, you should at least try to improve your melee or archery skills even if you’re planning to create a primary character with magic proficiency. Horse combat is still not possible and you can’t even mount two persons on your horse, which is a shame. Horses do fast travel wherever you go, so that’s a nice touch.
In addition of spells and weapons, you have access to Shouts. These Shouts, or Thu’ums, are special words in Dragon language which you will have to learn using Word Walls. Before you can use shouts, however, you will have to unlock them by spending Dragon souls. Yep, you guessed it. Dragon souls are available once you kill a dragon. Killing a dragon provides you with a dragon soul to spend on any one shout you want. However, dragons won’t start spawning until you complete a certain part of main story, and a shout comprises of three words. The more words you learn, the more powerful it becomes. Shouts can help you out in some really nasty situations if used correctly.
Skyrim uses a Radiant Story quest system, in which quests are dynamically altered based upon the conditions, and you will never run out of things to do in the game. The Dark Brotherhood and The Thieves Guild quest lines are some of the best quests available in the game, and they earn you pretty good rewards too. The main quest line was, in my opinion, pretty decent, although not groundbreaking. Though it had one of the best ending quests in The Elder Scrolls games. Also, it seems like almost everyone in the game has a problem or two yet to be solved and only you can solve them. I would strongly recommend you try to get through The Dark Brotherhood and The Thieves Guild quests because they net some of the best weapons and armors available in the whole game.
You can recruit mercenaries to help you out or you can get certain ‘Companions’ once you complete their quests. You will automatically get one or two companions as you complete your main quest, however, the AI in Skyrim is pretty dumb and your companions are no better. They will step on pressure plates, activate traps and one or twice, will die on you due to a bug.
Which brings us to an interesting part of the game-BUGS! The game is overflowing with numerous bugs. Horses disappearing, Backwards flying dragons, Flying mammoths and Giants sending you to stratosphere with one hit of their mace(It MIGHT be intentional, however). I’ll leave you to discover more bugs yourself, and I would like to point out that you cannot blame Bethesda for bugs as Skyrim is a huge game and it will be impossible to detect and fix every single bug found in the game. People are flaming Bethesda because of the bugs but hey, let me ask you something-400 people, or two million people-Which ones do you expect would find more errors or bugs in the game?
You can purchase houses and stock them with furniture, bookshelves, weapon racks and a few other things. It’s a nice addition to the game. You can craft your own weapons and armor, which is one of the major parts of the game, enchant your weapons and even chop woods. Enchanting, is pretty stupid, however. I feel that Bethesda could’ve added more to enchanting than a weapon doing 20 damage to health or stamina or Magicka. There are a few other options available, but they are rather limited.
The soundtrack is one of the best available for any game released in the decade. It’s worth listening to very closely because you will be astounded with variety of sound effects and music. It’s an integral part of the game-The chills you get once a dragon lands close to you and out of the speakers come the blasting sounds of the main theme of Skyrim, the rush you feel when you walk through the chants in the ending level of the main quest(No spoilers). Overall, Skyrim’s music is there to behold. However, it has a few weak parts too. Some lines are repeated so many times that they are starting to become annoying (Hi, Guard with an arrow in the knee!). Voice acting of the main characters is pretty strong, but a few NPC lines feel weak and poorly constructed.
Overall, Skyrim is one excellent game, advantages of which overpower the bugs and faults in the game. It has a vast world set for you to explore and highly detailed armor/weapons. You “will” invest hours in the game and lose the track of time. Despite 70-odd hours I’ve invested in the game, I can easily say that I have not yet even seen half of the world there is to see. I can see myself returning to the game frequently even after finishing most quests. It’s a genuine classic you have to play!