The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Available on PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: M
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Release Date: November 11, 2011
Xbox Live/PSN: Downloadable Content
Parent Talk: The ESRB rates Skyrim M for mature because of graphic violence, suggestive themes and the use of alcohol. In this game, players can decapitate foes in first-person, get drunk and much more. Heed the warning; don’t let children play this game.
Plays Like: The previous Elder Scrolls games, similar to other first-person RPGs like Fallout.
Review Basis: Bethesda was very kind to send us a review copy two weeks prior to release. Played through the campaign, completed every main guild as well as the main side-story. A huge thanks to Mark Levine for helping me complete this wonderful game on time.
Deceit, revenge, brotherhood, love, hate, magic, swords and thieves…welcome back to Tamriel my friends. I hear a dragon calling, or could that be the plans to overthrow the Empire? Perhaps the Night Mother wants you to assassinate someone? Whatever the case, you’re about to lose a month of life, and love every second of it. The Elder Scrolls is back!
You create the experience. Fighting a dragon is unforgettable in Skyrim…if you progress the main storyline. Take on some side-quests though, and a dragon is nothing compared to what you’ll encounter. No two players will play, look, interact or conquer the same. Skyrim becomes the RPG you want it to, and thus one of the best experiences this generation.
+ Deep, rich, engrossing storyline. The plot is impressive, dealing with the mystery of the Dragonborn, people born with the soul of a dragon. At the onset, players are about to become acquainted with the chopping block, but something incredible happens that changes their lives and everyone else’s. Can you solve the riddle?
+ Everyone has a task for you. If you don’t want to advance the story, there are hundreds of side-quests, each leading to a choice that changes all of Tamriel. Don’t ignore the minor, seemingly forgettable quests. They especially lead to greatness.
+ Best reason to explore since Morrowind. The environments are the best I’ve seen in any RPG this generation. Instead of dust storms, we now have fog storms, blizzards and more. Effects have been given a complete facelift and look breathtaking. Every time you try to put the controller down, there’s bound to be something off in the distance that you might play for just one more hour to reach.
+ The quest book of joy. After the first mission, you’re on your own. You can travel any direction, visit any village, take on any side-quest, join a guild, do whatever. It doesn’t take long to pile dozens of quests in your book. While intimidating, they really do lead to bigger and better things.
+ Incredibly useful menu. From leveling up, activating a quest to equipping weapons and armor, the new menu is vastly superior to Oblivion’s. The favorites menu also works well, allowing you to select different powers and spells, allocating them to the d-pad for instant switching.
+ Excellent magicka, powers and shout system. Magicka works as before: learn new spells and keep an eye on the meter. Powers can also be learned, or are already provisioned to a particular species. They don’t use the magicka meter, but instead require time to recharge. Shouts are new to ES and the most powerful attacks which can be leveled up three times by finding special words throughout the land. They require dragon souls to be used. These elements amount to an impressive magical arsenal for you.
+ Fantastic leveling. Oblivion was extremely cumbersome, but Skyrim has players selecting between stamina, health and magicka once they’ve reached a new level. Then you may allocate one new perk to a variety of skills, which strengthen over time and use. They include unlocking master-level locks, stronger destruction magic, etc. What your character’s strengths and weaknesses are is your choice.
+ Improved combat. Everyone knows Oblivion’s combat felt loose. Now everything is tight. Hit detection is much more natural, and third-person play is actually possible; you don’t just float around anymore. Fallout 3’s slow-motion kills have been introduced, but thankfully they’re uncommon.
+ Skyrim is alive! Town children run and play; you can even participate in a game of tag. Citizens have daily objectives from going to work, eating and eventually sleeping. These routines are part of Skyrim’s majestic nature. Everything and everyone has a place in the world.
+ No more wax people. A significant improvement is the newly-modeled NPCs. They look more life-like than ever, and you will be thankful for it while killing them, talking to them, etc.
+ A true sense of history. I love the interconnectivity of The Elder Scrolls. Skyrim is 200 years Oblivion’s senior, and there are references to it everywhere. An example might be a battle from Oblivion mentioned in a book that you actually fought in. Little nods like that make this series a league of its own.
+/- Some dungeons are eye candy, others repeat the stone maze-like arenas we’ve seen before. Repeated dungeon designs hurt some of the missions, but they’re nothing to throw your arms up over.
+/- Much improved conversations. While certain key conversations still lock you in place, you can shift the camera to look at the surroundings while people chat away. Overlap can occur if you’re standing by several characters though. It can be annoying as you barely hear what the person in front of you is saying. Sometimes important characters initiate a conversation through the floor of an inn. These are common occurrences.
– Technical glitches are common with a game this size, and the series as a whole. Players aren’t surprised to see flicking textures, clipping issues and bizarre freezes every now and then. I never experienced anything game-breaking, but these hiccups should be taken into account. It’s not a question of if they will happen, rather which ones and how often. One of the strangest glitches I saw was a Mammoth 300 feet in the air. As I approached it, it fell from the sky to its death. Weird stuff like that happens a lot.
– Companion AI still needs work. You can hire mercenaries for mission assistance, or a random buddy might tag along upon your joining a guild. Too bad they typically get in the way more than help. This is especially obvious when they stand in front of you in tight dungeons and hinder your progress.
There’s nothing like decapitating an enemy, only to see the head roll around for a minute or two. Talk about creepy!
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim doesn’t have the best combat, animations, or least amount of bugs. However, it’s hands-down the best 2011 RPG. Some will argue the entire generation, and I’ll get back to you once it’s over. Right now all RPG lovers must go out and pick up Skyrim. Just remember to kiss your loved ones goodbye; you won’t see them for at least a month. We have another contender for Game of the Year right here.
Average Score Scale: 9.0 (+/- 0.5) out of 10
Personal Final Score: 9.5/10 (Inflated)
Reason for +0.5 Inflation: The vastness of the game makes it an incredible value.
Reason for -0.5 Deflation: Bugs, bugs and more bugs bring down the experience.