Thursday, 24 November 2011


Don't start Skyrim if you don't have the time to put in it because it will consume your life, however, it's worth every minute of it. Skyrim is a huge game; to do all the developer scripted quests would probably take more than fifty hours and on top of that there is a whole world to explore and an infinite number of quests can be generated via the radiant quest system. Along with the main quest-line there is also the guilds to work your way through; warriors, mages, thieves and assassins, each having their own unique story line. On top of that there is also a mind boggling number of other quests that can be found by talking to people or picking up items, they consistently managed to surprise me with their depth, whilst always being optional. Oblivion had an arena, where you could engage in gladiator like matches, but instead Skyrim lets you choose a side in a civil war; depending on which side you choose you take over different forts, towns and cities to gain supremacy in Skyrim.
The individual components of Skyrim may not be anything extra special but together they create a wonderful world.

At the start of the game you create your character choosing from ten races and how your character looks, but nothing else, there are no player stats or attribute points for you to adjust from the start. This system is very simple, which I like, as it's not too confusing. When you level up you can choose whether to increase your overall magicka, health or stamina and get a perk point to put in an upgrade of your choice; the list of skills you can upgrades varies from archery and one handed weapons to smithing and enchanting. Levelling up is done in the same way as the previous game, you level up individual skills and when you level up ten of these your entire character level increases by one. For instance to increase your proficiency in one of the schools of magic you have to use spells from that school or to improve at lock picking you have to attempt to pick locks; it's not a difficult system to work out. I like the system but I think that it doesn't reward you enough for completing quests, there isn't that same satisfaction of handing in a massive quest and leveling up instantly from it.
Character creation is simple and will be familiar to anyone who plays Bethesda games.

You don't pick a class so can tailor your character to how you want to play or you can follow the standard rogue, mage or warrior path if you want. I started off as a pure mage then grinded up my enchanting and smithing so that I could make some awesome armour and a sword to play as a hybrid, then towards the end of my play-through I made a ridiculous bow and started sneaking about. I had most fun playing as a mage but then that is how I normally play RPGs. Dual wielding destruction spells as a mage staggers opponents whilst being a High Elf gives you an ability that gives you access to pretty much infinite magicka once a day, so I could kill any opponent without them being able to attack me back, and then I could just wait 24 hours to use the ability again. I found playing as an archer frustrating when my arrows rebounded off of surfaces which weren't near where I was aiming whilst I was trying to shoot around corners. I found it extremely satisfying to kill large groups of enemies with one arrow each. Playing as a warrior felt pretty badass as I had a lot of armour and a health and stamina buff from enchanting, so I could take a lot of damage whilst dealing a lot of damage, though I did find the camera a bit disorientating when attacking.
Environments vary massively from dry planes to ice fields to underground ruins.

I've said it before but despite the low resolution textures and poor shadows is a really beautiful game. The world Bethesda has created is vast, densely populated and often jaw dropping. You look at any screen and there are layers of detail all combined together to create a living world; flora, fauna, objects, lighting effects and sound effects create wonderful living environments.Walking to any location on the map you will be distracted by something else appearing on the compass as well as encounter creatures, NPCs and even the odd dragon. However, fast travel does come in very handy and is essential as quests always seem to send you from one end of the map to the other. Thankfully the roadside enemies don't scale with you as badly as they did in Oblivion.
The sky effects really help create beautiful environments.

I played through the Mages guild, the Dark Brotherhood, the Warriors, the Thieves then fought in the civil war all the while slowly working through the story and doing many many side-quests. I still have some of the thieves quests to do as well as however many side-quests I want to do. I don't know if I will get the motivation to dive back into the world for a while, after 50 hours some of the magic has worn off, though I'm sure that in the not too distant future I will pick this game up and put another 50 hours into it. Bethesda managed to create a really immersive world with deep lore, varied locations and rich characters so anything that pulled me out of this I didn't like. For instance whilst talking to quest characters other people may come and talk over them about mundane stuff, in dungeons no one has explored for centuries there is fresh fruit and the same books found everywhere else and characters don't really react to your heroic feats in awe enough enough. Obviosuly with a game this size there are going to be bugs but having played other Bethesda games I can forgive them considering the magnitude of what they have achieved.    
Shadowmere from Oblivion returns and is the true dragon-born.

Throughout the game you fight dragons in either random encounters or when you come across their lairs, and whilst they do get harder, they are pretty much all the same and even the final boss fight is no different. The dragons may not all be the same type but I think there are too many so it just isn't as exciting as it should have been to fight a dragon. Restricting the numbers would have meant that each one was more exciting. Probably my biggest complaint is how generic the main quest is and how unexciting the finale is; it really doesn't get the adrenaline pumping as much as it should though the setting is probably the most beautiful in the game. Overall Skyrim is a brilliant game and well worth it's price tag given the amount of content available and how long you can invest in this gorgeous world.

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