The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Review
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Quite possibly the best open-world RPG of this generation, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an enormous and addictive game that is breathtaking in presentation and scale.
- Enormous and gorgeous open-world
- Fighting dragons is truly exciting
- A practically endless experience
- Occasional yet laughable graphical glitches
- Overused character models and comments detract immersion
- Dungeons grow a bit repetitive
(continued from previous page) ...as Dragonborn, a dragon hunter with the ability to learn ancient and powerful Shouts. Early encounters with dragons are predetermined and used to tell the story, but the vast majority of battles are relatively random, although once you learn the beast’s location, he’ll generally stay in the area so you can flee if you are not prepared.
Many view the dragons' return to the land as a sign of end times, and you'll quickly learn that Alduin, the Nordic god of destruction, has something to do with their reappearance. The main quest line sends you across Skyrim to learn more about dragons, Alduin, the civil war, and your destiny as Dragonborn.
While there are some visual and technical glitches, the overall presentation is immaculate. The levels are mostly diverse, but it's the world of Skyrim that is truly breathtaking. Occasionally the night sky is lit by Northern Lights, and snow-covered mountains almost always experience blizzard-like conditions. From the details of trees, water, and grass, the landscape is simply gorgeous. The soundtrack helps round out that epic storybook feel, and easily draws players deep into this magical world.
Friends and foes
Skyrim's population is mostly filled with local Nords, and while each of the nine or so major cities has a different feel, a different flavor, you’ll start to run into the same character architecture over and over again. Whether you are in Whiterun or Solitude, the guards repeat the same few quick lines, but it is nice to hear how they react to your actions throughout the game. Repetitive characters are a bit disappointing, and while it detracts a bit from the overall immersion, there are still plenty of small details that yank you back into this war-torn land.
While citizens can quickly become enemies with a fat fireball tossed into the local pub, the real enemies are found in the vast dungeons or roaming the enormous map. You can travel by foot or horseback, or take a caravan to the major cities, or fast travel to already discovered locations. This definitely makes life easier, but again takes a bit away from the immersion in the world.
Enemies are generally intelligent, but they can easily get stuck in doorways or refuse to traverse a small hill to fight you face-to-face. You can take advantage of the occasional poor enemy pathing, and even some bosses are best kept at a distance using some basic kitting techniques. But overall the enemies are diverse, creative, and occasionally difficult enough to provide a real challenge.
But nothing beats fighting dragons, period. These are the moments that make you run to the front of the TV screen in excitement. Defeating dragons takes skills and some luck, but it mostly takes practice. While some Shouts work extremely well against these enormous beasts, you really can’t beat swinging a blade at its face or side. Hearing that distant roar, the music change, and the controller vibrate is enough to still make my heart pump. You can spend days simply exploring Skyrim and hunting dragons, or you can let them find you. Like everything else in this game, the choice is up to you.
The fight is in your hands
Bethesda nailed the combat controls perfectly. Each hand is assigned to the respective left and right trigger buttons, while Shouts and sprint are also tied to the other triggers. Swinging an axe with your right hand feels a lot different than swinging a dagger or a mace. Similarly, dual wielding spells packs a powerful punch but requires a bit more coordination than casting a spell with one hand. You’ll feel the force of your mace bash through opponent’s leather armor, or feel your sword bounce off a shield.
Movement is also extremely responsive and you’ll truly feel the differences depending on what armor you are wearing. You can play the game in either first-person or third-person perspectives, and while I personally enjoyed first-person better, third-person is quite viable as the character isn’t centered on ... (continued on next page)