The role playing game that arguable defined the genre for this past generation of consoles, the PS3 and 360, left me in awe once I finally broke away from it 75 hours from the start. It wasn’t just an enhanced version of the hit success Oblivion, it was an entirely new game.
Poorly paced story
So it was obvious not to have any ridiculously high expectations for the game going into it. The only thing the game suffered from was a cookie-cutter, by the books approach to the game. For instance, the opening scene of the game was supposed to be a worrisome one.
You’re next in line to get your head axed off in a public execution, yet I wasn’t scared. Atrocious acting and robotic-like animations sickened the characters around me. The intensity that the situation was supposed to deliver was crushed. But storytelling has never been Bethesda’s strong suit and neither was it a high priority going into Skyrim.
They wanted to create an experience that the players would never have to leave, something they could come back to and constantly have something to do, a place to explore, a mystical world taken from our imaginations that brought our mythical fantasies of dragons and castles to life before us. And they did just that.
The world is HUGE
Skryim’s landscape is vast. While it may look small on paper, getting from point A to point B could take up the better part of an hour, or more if you get lost in the excitement of discovery and getting lost in your imagination to go and see what may be just around the corner, or in that cave just up the hill.
The world constantly has something for you to do, whether that be exploring, questing, crafting, hunting dragons and other mystical beasts, or even starting up your own family and home. But it was the frequency at which I obtained new quests that always kept me on my feet.
You’ll never grow bored
At one point, I had 19 main quests and 45 side quests all active at once. I just couldn’t stop getting things to do. Everywhere I went, no matter who I talked to, someone always had something for me to do. Quests would even pop up in front of me while I ventured out to accomplish another task, only adding to the lengthy list I had drawn up already.
Even when I tried to avoid civilians at all costs, they still managed to nag me to do things for them via messengers that would hand me documents with news quests. The cool part was that most of the quests rewarded me well for my hard work.
And most of the quests that I had garnered all had their own uniquely scripted story thread, many of which tied into the main conflict at hand which involved me cleansing the kingdom of dragons. But the main campaign itself was still superbly penned, even with the hundreds of side content stories to embark on.
Perhaps the coolest part about the quests however was how every one of them purposefully took me to a new area on the map that I hadn’t yet been to before. The game wanted me to explore and see new things. I didn’t just get a handful of chores to do in a single, nearby quarry or dungeon, everything was spread out and unique unto itself.
And for the most part, none of the areas suffered from the problem Oblivion had, where many of the dungeons and areas in the game were composed of copied textures simply pasted into the game from other areas. Every nook and cranny ofSkyrim is unique and different.
You are the Dragonborn
If you hadn’t already known, every character you create is Dragonborn from the start, meaning he or she can cast powerful magic-like shouts that are one of your biggest weapons at hand when confronted by a dragon. Yet they can also be used against other enemy types as well.
The extensive variety of spells and shouts is extensive to say the very least and I had a blast getting to experiment with the different elemental types such as fire, ice, and electricity. The game’s new perk system also made experimenting with different skill types a joy as well.
With just a few clicks of the mouse, I could upgrade my efficiency with one handed swords or have increased my maximum health. I could have even changed my list of magical weapons or upgraded a specific attack.
A fixed combat system
The combat in the game was a huge improvement over its predecessor as well. Enemies can no longer be exploited like before in Oblivion where you could simply backpedal and fire spells at foes as they helplessly trampled along after you.
The enemies you’ll face in Skyrim move significantly faster when than your backpedaling character when they go out on the attack. All in all, the combat system was very well put together. Swords clashes upon one another and bounced of shields, and thanks to the ability to multitask with your magical powers, you can cast things such as healing spells on the go in the middle of a fight to save you from death.
The biggest problem with Skyrim though is the same that has affected every other Elder Scrolls game, bugs. While Bethesda has delivered a much more stable game this time around, it didn’t stop me from having to reload previous saves on numerous occasions.
And if you’re one of those players who hates to save every ten minutes, or you just simply forget, the game’s auto save functionality is probably a life saver to you, although it isn’t perfect. The thought of erased victories over deadly dragons and lost character development may sound like a nightmare to some, but heck, for a veteran of the Elder Scrolls series, it’s simply something I’ve come to expect now.
Skyrim took over my life for the better part of a month and I truly felt like I had become apart of the game’s world. By the time I checked out, I had bought a house and gotten married, saved the countryside from civil war and defeated the dragons. The game is not something I’ll soon forget, nor completely avoid for a very, very long time.