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Skyrim: The Elder Scrolls V Review

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Review

 

  The Elder Scrolls V takes place on the fantasy world of Nirn on the continent of Tamriel in the region known as Skyrim.

 

Map of Skyrim

Don't let this map fool you; there are tons of places to visit in Skyrim.

 

  Over 200 years have passed since the events that took place in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. This game is not a direct sequel to those events; it is more like the next chapter in the story of the world of Nirn. You do not have to have any previous experience or knowledge of The Elder Scrolls series to enjoy this game.

 

  Skyrim is home to the Nord, a fierce Nordic like race that are currently fighting a civil war. The separatist movement in the war is being led by Ulfric Stormcloak who recently killed the high king of Skyrim.

 

  When the game begins, imperial forces have managed to capture Ulfric Stormcloak in an ambush along with several of his soldiers. Unfortunately your character was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Captured and mistaken as one of Ulfric's men, you are headed to the village of Helgen to face execution.

 

  Just as the imperial headsman's axe is about to end your story prematurely, a dragon attacks Helgen allowing you to escape amidst the chaos.

 

  Dragons have not been seen in Nirn for ages and most people thought of the dragons as mere legends, but no more, as dragons begin to attack villages and keeps across Skyrim.

 

Skyrim Dragon

Legend no more, run away!

 

  After escaping Helgen your travels take you to the small village of Riverwood and from there onward to the city of Whiterun. It is in defending the Watch Tower just outside of Whiterun against a dragon that you learn that you are one of the legendary dragonborn. A hero able to absorb the souls of defeated dragons in order to use their power in the form of shouts also known as Thu'um.

 

Skyrim Bad Breath Comic

Skyrim Mouthwash, now available at fine vendors near you.

 

 As you make your mark upon the lands of Skyrim you discover that the dragon who attacked Helgen was none other than Aludin known as the World Eater. It is prophesied that Aludin would appear once more at the ends of days and swallow the world. It is your mission to stop this from happening.

 

  The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim follows in the tradition of the previous games in the series, giving you a wide open world to explore along with a non linear quest path to follow. You decide when and where you will go. You can follow the main story or jump off the train at anytime to go on side quests.

 

  Skyrim is designed to be a realistic fantasy world. You do not level your character in the traditional sense that you do in other role playing games. Want to use a sword and shield in combat? Well just equip them and with enough time and fighting you will begin to master the use of both. The more skills you master the higher your character will level.

 

  Each level you gain gives you a perk that can be used to enhance one of your skills; you do not need to spend perks right away, save them up for skills you really want to focus on. Along with gaining a perk, upon gaining a level you also get to raise one of your three attributes (Magicka, Health, or Stamina) by ten points.

 

  Skyrim does not use a rigid class system, if you want to use certain skills or spells all you have to do is purchase the equipment needed to perform those actions and then practice those skills in combat.

 

Dragonborn vs. Dragon

 

  The world of Nirn is rich with details and history; you really get the feeling that your actions have meaning and consequences in the world. Say you see a dragon attacking a town and you decided to let it run rampant, well you might find that the local blacksmith was killed in the attack and that his shop is now permanently abandoned. Where are you going to sell your loot at now?

 

   You are not forced to follow any set path of morality in Skyrim; in fact each city of Skyrim has its own local legal system. You may be heralded as a hero in Whiterun, while at the same time the guards in the city of Solitude might attack you on sight for the murders you have committed in the past. How you act is entirely up to you.

 

  To help enforce realism Skyrim uses both an encumbrance system and an in game economy. This requires the player to take the time to pick and choose just what they want to loot off of their fallen foes. Take too much on and you find yourself unable to run or fast travel until you drop some of that weight that you are carrying. Each merchant in the game will only buy a select set of items from you and each has a limit on the amount of money that they can use for purchases each day.

 

  The world itself is very beautiful making you want to explore it, which you can do on foot or on horseback once you gain a mount.

 

Skyrim's beauty

 

  Unlike most role playing games you can purchase housing or even get married.

 

  Now let's take a look at the less then sunny side of Skyrim. The system for leveling sounds great in theory, but in practice you will find yourself grinding skills for hours on end. Sitting in a dungeon having a skeleton beat on my shield for 45 minutes is not exactly what I would call fun. Yes all role playing games have a degree of grinding, but the system used in Skyrim makes the grind much more noticeable.

 

  While the world is detailed beautiful the color choices are very drab, which detracts from the overall experience. Luckily the community surrounding Skyrim is already at work tweaking the lighting and coloring in the game.

 

  This game was optimized for play on a console and it became apparent fairly quickly on the PC. The keyboard and mouse controls where very counter intuitive at times and switching between spells/weapons/shields became a real chore to do. I highly suggest picking up the X-Box 360 game pad if you buy the PC version of the game, it will make your experience a lot smoother.

 

  I found the HUD display very lacking and would have enjoyed a more MMOish type of compass instead.

 

  Puzzles in the game where either so easy that they were eye rolling, or so complicated that you just mashed switches in the hopes of doing something correctly.

 

Christopher Gravuer I used to be an adventure writer, then I took an arrow to the knee.

Don't judge me!

 

  Bethesda has a reputation for buggy games and oh lord is this game filled with bugs, some of them game breaking. I am reviewing the PC version here so I will limit my comments to the bugs that I encountered in this version.

 

  Here are just a few of the bugs I ran across.

 

  I came across NPC's on the main quest line that refused to open doors or who where mute making me not only miss out on parts of the story, but also unable to advance the main quest line until I used a community created fix.

 

  A town guard slain by a dragon fell to the ground turning into a dragon skeleton. Did I mention that dragon skeletons do not despawn? So after several dragon slaying endeavors you will be tripping over their remains. Too bad you cannot slip some gold to the local Jarl so that he can hire some locals to clean up the mess.

 

  At one point my character decided that walking on the ground was too mainstream, so he started walking a few feet off of the ground. At other times I would get stuck on scenery or terrain that was only a few inches high, yet I was unable to jump over it.

 

  I saw a back oblong graphical error in the sky, at first I thought that I had found a U.F.O. in Skyrim.

 

  Constant game crashes require that you save the game often, especially if you are fast traveling somewhere.

 

  To top everything off the first patch released for the game actually broke even more things in the game.

 

  I encountered many more bugs in the game but I just wanted to give you a fair warning of just some of the things that I had encountered.

 

  Silly bugs I can handle but ones that break my ability to finish the game cross the line. In a world where beta testing is being used as a marketing tool instead of as a resource it is becoming more apparent that quality control in gaming is on a downward spiral. However I think that some of these bugs really should have been caught in the alpha phase of development.

 

  Another thing that amazes me is that it seems that I find fixes and support for games coming from the community, well before I see a fix come out from a developer. Hire these folks to test your game!

 

  With all of the negatives that I have mentioned you would think that I hated the game, but on the contrary, despite its flaws I fairly enjoyed my time in Skyrim (once I got the fixes that the community provided).

 

  The main story line is fairly intriguing and there are tons of side quests to complete and several factions for you to join that will keep you busy for hours on end.

 

  A Skyrim Creation Kit is being released by Bethesda in January. The modding community that surrounds The Elder Scrolls series is simply amazing. I have already seen some of the great work that they are doing to improve the game and can only imagine how much better the game will get over time once they receive the official kit.

 

Final verdict 8/10 A great non linear story with tons of options and lots to do in game, marred by buggy code. Wait a few months for some serious patching to be done to this game before you pick it up. Once they fix it and the community development pack is released, this will be a game that you will play for years on end.

 

  On a side note I have seen this game receive perfect scores from several outlets and I think that is a real disservice to those who rely on such sources, in a bad economy like this money is tight for most people, so be honest with what you review. Yes Skyrim is a great game, but it is far from perfect at this point in time. But that is just my opinion.

 

~Professor

 

 

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