The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Review

If you have not heard anything about the game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim then you must have been in Rip Van Winkle type hibernation; if so, WAKE UP!!

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is big; it’s very, very big (in a game world sense) and a truly all engrossing one to boot. This is one game that it is virtually impossible to write a complete review for. Any attempt to do so will consume more pages than an encyclopaedia (I’m not kidding).

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has been lovingly developed by Bethesda Game Studio and published by Bethesda Soft Works;  both responsible for such titles as  Fallout: New Vegas, Hunted: Demon’s Forge, Rage as well as The Elder Scrolls series Arena, Daggerfall, Redguard, Morrowind and Oblivion.

From the very outset of your adventure the effort that has been poured into The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is plain for all to see.

The game takes place in Skyrim, a land that’s far north of Tamriel. You begin the game as a prisoner riding in the back of a horse drawn cart under the watchful eyes of your captors, The Imperial Troops, who are taking you to be executed (beheaded) for your crimes.  Along with you are other misfits who also share the same fate.

Just as you are about to be executed, there is an appearance of a dragon, a creature that was thought to have been vanquished long ago. The dragon starts destroying the village of Helgon and you quickly escape your captors and the dragon. It is from this point on the similarity with other gamers playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim will end. You’ll start making decisions; whether good or bad and the path you choose will be unique to anyone else who is playing.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim’s world is alive and kicking with all kind of life forms and changeable weather system. I cannot remember a time when an RPG game has looked and felt this immersive; I have to warn you, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim does not feels like a videogame in the generic sense, it’s more like an experience, a personal one at that. It’s wilder, rougher, and a lot more dangerous than its predecessor Oblivion.

The world within The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is the biggest, on any console to date and you could find you self playing this for weeks if not months without visiting the main storyline.

The draw distance has to be seen to be believed. Any place that you see in the game world can be reached, it’s a beautiful experience.

You’ve got Woolly Mammoths, Giants, Trolls, Vampires, Werewolf, and Dragons the list is endless. On one of your quest you’re on your horse, just steadily making your way to the slopes of the Throat of the World because you have been summoned to meet a holy order known as the Greybeards who live in a temple in High Hothgar. The temple is situated on top of a mountain the size of Mount Everest. On the way you can if you so choose wander off exploring and seeking out one of the many dungeons that is just begging to be plundered and nearly all of these are sizable in itself. Or you could continue riding across an open landscape of green grass with the sun beating down on your neck and in the distance, you hear the thudding of the Woolly Mammoths as they are being shepherded by Giants (what a sight) and the graphical details is astounding.

A little way down the road you stray off the path to take a short cut, then out of the blue you’re attacked by a pack of enormous Sabre Tooth Tigers, what do you do? Run? Or fight knowing you will be out numbered. It’s up to you.

When you eventually get to the mountain you have to climb the 7000 winding steps which spiral around the circumference of the mountain. This took 15 minutes to walk to the top whilst looking in amazement at the Aurora Borealis in the night sky. The weather conditions starts changing with the snowfall getting thicker, you struggle to see your hand in front of your face, the wind howls around you and trouble is ahead: it is spectacular stuff.

The way Bethesda has honed the action, combat and core role-playing game mechanics is by far The Elder Scroll V: Skyrim’s crowning glory. What’s more, there are no stats to fiddle around with (neat huh).  Instead, you are encouraged to use weapons or magic as what you use and how often you use the item or power will automatically level up whilst travelling the unforgiving terrain. There are also all sorts of unexpected surprises that will make you really feel as though you are fighting for your character’s very existence.

As you progress you’ll start to open up the constellations and it is here where you will tailor your character, explore new abilities and powers.  This is truly a great idea from Bethesda to make the player feel as though you’re looking to the heavens for inspiration to enhance your next ability. This needs to be experienced to fully comprehend the genius as play here.

The only way to progress your character through the unlimited number of levels is to remain as active as possible, and to seek out new enemies and quests within Skyrim. Interacting with the different races and hearing how they view the world will make for motivation enough as you can also pick up tips by eavesdropping.

There is also an on-screen compass that supports you on your quest by using icons of the points of interest as the compass needle so you’ll know exactly what kind of landmark you’re looking for as you explore the massive open world.

Can we talk about the games engine? Let’s face it. Fallout 3 and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion were real ugly by today’s standards. The characters themselves seemed to be cardboard cut outs and not quite what one would expect from a next gen console but The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim‘s new engine makes even the strangest of townsfolk look interesting and lively. Even menial items like the lowly potions and ingredients make for graphical eye candy in the game’s menu screen as you can zoom in and look around over a thousand different items.

Combat and spells are made all the more enjoyable thanks to the slow-motion killcams. The controls and the menu system will not take rocket science to get to grips with. I was surprised at how intuitive it was to use and navigate

Not every lesson has been learnt from Oblivion. By this I mean the opening cut scene in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim seems to last an age, just as it did in Oblivion  (maybe that’s me because I just wanted to get straight into the action after waiting years for this title to surface). The script in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is also pretty decent unlike (there’s that name again) Oblivion.

The only nagging technical issues left for me to gripe over is the AI companions, are they dumb or what? Often getting in your way, never quite keeping up, taking the long route when you want them to back you up in a fight and getting stuck in doorways at the most inopportune moments. Regardless of that, these are the kinds of issues I can gladly live with as I’m sure you will too. Why? Because the gamer in you (like me) wanted to slide The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim into the  PS3 and sit back and marvel at the outstanding creation Bethesda Game Studios has seen fit to bestow upon us.

With The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim selling 3.5 million copies within 48 hours of its release this alone lets you know this game will be selling by the bucket loads for months to come. With the downloadable contents on the horizon I expect the fans of RPGs and casual gamers will be lost in Skyrim for months to come.

Invest in this title and dip your toes into the cool streams of Skyrim and you too will understand the phenomenon which is The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

Donnie Tulloch

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