Game Review: Skyrim

January 12, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Posted in Fantasy, Reviews, Video Games | 1 Comment
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I’m also a Nightengale and have this awesome ninja armor. Booyah!

My name is Otto. I am a Breton. And I’m the Dragonborn.

After 150 hours of gameplay, I felt I was finally worthy of writing a review of Skyrim for the Xbox 360. For fans of the Elder Scrolls games, this is a must have, must play, there just isn’t anyway around it. Overall it feels like an improvement over the previous game, Oblivion, with much smoother gameplay and user interfaces, even in-game mechanics. While it might not have the sheer massive amount of options that Morrowind offered, it does deliver a fun experience with great visuals and tons of adventure. Even after a month of exploration, I have still not explored the entirety of the game nor have I completed the bulk of the quests. When it comes to adventure and exploration, Skyrim delivers in abundance.

So what is the game about? Quite simply, you find out that you are the dragonborn. It is your destiny to stop the ancient dragon Alduin from destroying the world. As you explore the land of Skyrim helping various holds and jarls defend themselves from dragon attacks, you’ll find that you are the only one who can stop the menace. In your adventure you’ll travel across forests, mountains, wintery landscapes, swamps, geothermal bogs, massive underground dwarven cities, and even into the afterlife. Yet the dragons are not the only things plaguing the land.

You’ll know you’re a seasoned dragonslayer when an ancient dragon swoops down and eats you, and you find yourself laughing. Yes, you’ve finally found a worthy foe. Reload and let the fun begin!

Beyond the resurgence of the dragons, Skyrim is also in the midst of a civil war. The Empire and the Stormcloaks are waging a bloody conflict for control of the nine holds. On one side there are the Stormcloaks led by Ulfric who wish to free Skyrim from Imperial rule. The Empire has been forced by the Thalmer, a group of high elves, to ban the worship of Talos, a god sacred to the Nords of Skyrim. Yet Ulfric’s motivations aren’t entirely so noble. Indeed, both sides seem to be corrupted by their own pitfalls. Players might have a tough time choosing sides, and once you commit to one side, you will not be able to do any missions for the other. Of course, you don’t have to join either side if you don’t want to. The choice is yours.

There are also several guilds you can join that offer story lines completely separate from the main plot. Depending on how you want to play or what adventures you want to go on, there are the Mages Guild in Winterhold, the Thieves Guild in Riften, the Bard’s College in Solitude, the Companions Guild in Whiterun (this is like the Fighters Guild), and the Dark Brotherhood Assassins Guild.

Fair warning, there are giant spiders in Skyrim. GIANT SPIDERS! If you have mild arachnophobia, beware.

It’s worth noting the new combat changes in Skyrim. You can now use weapons and spells in both hands. This means you can have a sword in one hand and a fire spell in the other. Alternatively you can use spells in both hands. If you’re looking for extra damage, you can use the same spell in both hands for twice the power, or you can opt for two handed weapons that deal more damage. Like Oblivion, all attacks will hit your target. However, there’s the new addition of critical attacks. These critical attacks will cue special cut scenes that show your character killing your opponent. For instance, if you get attacked by a wolf, you might get a cut scene of you bashing the pesky animal on the head and then soccer kicking it to its doom. Some perks will even allow you to decapitate your enemies.

Not to be trifled with at low levels unless you want a view from the stratosphere.

And there are some cool new foes to be faced in the Nord’s homeland. There are the dragons which come in different breeds. There are fearsome trolls and the spooky snow elves that live in the absconded dwarven ruins. But most respected of all are the giants. Your first encounter with them will certainly leave an impact…one that will probably send you flying a hundred feet into the air as you die. First rule about giants: don’t pick on their mammoths.

So Skyrim has dungeons and dragons, magic and weapons, monsters and tons of quests. What else does it have? Well if you’re not the violent type, you can be a miner. Simply pick up the first pick axe that you find and head to the mountains or one of the mines scattered about. You can mine various types of ores, which can be sold for money or used to make weapons and armor. If you’re an outdoorsmen, you can go hunting after deer, elk, rabbits, foxes, and even the deadly mammoths. You can also go hand fishing in one of the numerous rivers or the ocean. Most of the wildlife provides food, hides, and alchemical ingredients. Heck, you can even spend hours just walking along the roads picking flowers. If you get married, you can dazzle your wife with gifts. And if you get lonely out on the road, why not hire a mercenary to come with you? Not only will they help you in a fight, they’ll also carry your stuff, and some companions can be earned free of charge.

There is so much you can do in the game that it’s quite difficult to list everything. In fact, people are always thinking of new things to do quite beyond what the designers ever intended. Just google youtube for funny Skyrim vids and enjoy.

Trolls? How hard could they be to kill? Okay, tougher than a dragon is pretty respectable.

All that aside, there are a few things you need to keep in mind while playing. Like all Elder Scrolls games, there are some glitches, although I personally haven’t run into too many. Sometimes the loading screen will bug out and take longer than usual, and on very rare occasions it will never finish loading. Some of the quests have bugs that will not allow you to complete them under certain circumstances (hopefully these will be fixed in future patches). For instance, I was not able to complete the quest for the White Phial because of a glitch with briar hearts. If you have a briar heart before you get the quest, it will glitch and not let you complete it.

Remember to save often and keep a long list of saves in case you need to revert to an earlier point in the game. Another good tip, although a bit risky, is to turn off all the autosaves.  This will greatly speed up the transition times going in and out of areas. With them on, going into a building can take up to a minute to load and going outside of a city can take up to two minutes. With the autosaves off, it’s a lot faster.

Skyrim is easily the best game I’ve played in the last year. It has massive freedom and options. With the sheer amount of time you can pour into the game without completing everything, it’s well worth the money. So what are you waiting for? Buy Skyrim and go kill some dragons.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.
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