The Elder Scrolls have always been a highly acclaimed series, but with the success of Oblivion, I expected Bethesda to play it safe and give out a slightly better installment. Boy was I wrong. During the beginning cut scene I was a little nervous, given the robotic character animations and voices. The game begins with a public prisoner execution; as your character lays his head on the block, about to have his head permanently separated from his body, the great dragon Alduin appears. As he is burning as many of the citizens and guards as he can, you begin a Call of Duty-like follow mission, where you choose whether to escape with a fellow rebel or an Imperial guard. This mission brought my hopes back up. You go through a keep and then a cave, and when I emerged from the cave into Skyrim’s mountainous landscape, I found myself in awe at the beautiful world. This game is just massive.
Now onto the game play. The combat is fluid and makes you feel like you’re actually clanging swords with someone else. Sometimes I found myself traveling to every fort I could find, of which there is a dizzying amount, just to fight bandits and loot their treasure. The sneaking has also improved a lot since the last game. You can choose to either sneak up behind your enemies and assassinate them in a brutal cut scene or charge and start an epic battle. The lock picking has become much more efficient, bringing a Fallout 3-style version to the game. If you have played Oblivion before, you know that the lock picking system is a real pain in the butt. The magic system has become much deeper and interesting. With countless numbers of spells, you will always find yourself searching for new spell tomes or scrolls. There are over 150 caves and dungeons, all unique and fun to clear. Something new that Skyrim introduces is the use of your Voice, or Thu’um in the dragon language, to bellow powerful magic-like shouts. One of my favorite Shouts to use is Unrelenting Force (Fus Ro Dah). Although Skyrim has improved on many aspects, it has not improved on the amount of bugs and glitches that there was in the previous game. Some are minor and funny (mammoths falling out of the sky) and some major and annoying (invincible skeleton dragons flying backwards in circles). Along with the great gameplay (besides the glitches), Skyrim has incredible music and sound. The game’s soundtrack is absolutely outstanding. It could compare with the soundtrack of some blockbuster hit movies; Jeremy Soule really went above and beyond. The game’s main theme brought back the music from Morrowind and added a chorus of chanting in the game’s dragon language. The ambience is also enthralling. You can hear even the slightest footstep of a deer walking through the forest, sipping water from a crystal clear river. The voice acting is still inconsistent, but not to the extent of Oblivion.
Something else that needs to be mentioned is the characters. This is an aspect that Bethesda was never able to nail. None of their major games (Fallout and Elder Scrolls) have been able to capture a sense of emotion, and that goes with this game too. The NPC’s facial expressions never do anything but look at you and talk. I went to a town in the South, Falkreath, and I heard of an attack involving a werewolf and a little girl. I talked to the girl’s father about her death and he just said everything flat out. No crying, no whining, nothing. Also, the animations don’t look very good. The graphics. WOW. I mean seriously, they are AMAZING. Sometimes I find myself looking at Skyrim’s two-mooned sky in pure amazement. Everything about the game’s graphics is just incredible. Gazing down upon all of Skyrim from the top of the Throat of the World, with the Sea of Ghosts to the north, Riften to the East, and Solitude to the west is awe-inspiring. The lighting effects in the caves are beautiful. Although everything looks great from a distance, some textures look muddy up close, but this can easily be solved by installing the game to the Xbox 360‘s or PS3′s hard drive (with the highest settings on the PC, everything looks perfect). The game is very colorful, with green, lush forests and white, snowy mountaintops. All in all, this is one of the most beautiful games I’ve ever played.
One other aspect that makes Skyrim one of the best games of all time is the replay value and customization. If you had 100 people play through the game, every single person would have a different experience. There are multiple endings, endless numbers of choices to make, and unlimited customization. You can have whatever you want in your hands. You can have sword and sword, sword and shield, sword and magic, magic and magic, bow, or shield and magic. The possibilities are endless. There are thousands of weapons, hundreds of spells, 1000s of foods, tons of potions, and a crazy amount of clothes. I really don’t know how Bethesda fit this entire game on one disc. The final thing I will write about is the story. It is deep and there are tons of cliffhangers. Every quest with the Greybeards was tons of fun. Let me say right now that the game never ends. That’s not even an exaggeration. With the all new Radiant Story, the game makes its own quests, thus giving you an unlimited amount of gameplay. The quests sometimes do get repetitive. Many of them require you to retrieve an artifact from a dungeon, which can get boring. There are hundreds of pre-made side quests that are all fun. Some require you to kill a bandit leader, while others have you solve mysteries Sherlock Holmes style. One quest line that I found particularly funny was when I got into a drinking contest and fell asleep after, and woke up in a completely different place and didn’t know what happened. This begins a quest line that reminds me strongly of the Hangover. In short, the story is great.
Haven’t you heard enough yet? GO BUY SKYRIM! It has every thing a gamer could want; it has a great story, amazing graphics, a beautiful soundtrack, and endless replayability. The only people that wouldn’t want this game are those retarded COD junkies. I just have two words to say to you junkies out there: SCREW YOU! Anyways, this is the best games I’ve ever played. If you want to shoot people off mountains with your voice, decapitate them, blast fire and frost at them, get drunk, go to jail, get married, get a house, pick flowers, hunt, or eat, then this is the game for you! I think that was a run-on sentence. I give this game an almost perfect score of 9.6 out of 10.