Published on December 20th, 2011 | by Luke Testro0
Finally after 4 years of waiting Bethesda have unleashed the latest in the Elder Scrolls series in the form of Skyrim. Anyone who has played any of Bethesda’s RPG’s will know they’ll soon be spending hour after hour engaged in a deeply engrossing game world. Skyrim has a lot of hype to live up to but can the game become one of the landmark games on the current gen or consoles?
The story focuses on an unnamed hero (a common element in the Elder Scrolls world if you haven’t played anyone of the previous instalments). The hero is Dragonborn, with the ability to absorb the word of a dragons giving him/her a unique power each time a dragon shouts writing is found.
You start of as prisoner on the back of a horse pulled wagon on the way to be beheaded. This was very similar to the start of Oblivion as you start of as an unnamed prison and the events revolving your point of capture throws you straight into the story. It’s only when you play get a few hours through the game that you learn more about yourself.
On the way to being your execution you learn a bit about what’s happening in the world as the name who killed the king of Skyrim is sitting next to you with his mouth covered as he is believed to have used his voice to use a Dragon Shout to kill the king.
As you’re about to get the chop a dragon appears and destroys the town, this echoes the first return of the dragons to the kingdom, Not only is the dragon uprising coursing a crisis in Skyrim but the approaching civil war. The Stormclocks who want to restore Skyrim to its former glory are at war with the Imperial Legion who will fight to death to keep the kingdom the way it is.
You have a difficult decision on deciding which side you want to fight for and as you process throughout the main plot more insights to both sides will become clear. I found it difficult starting a game of this calibre as it takes some time to get a grasp of everything that’s been happening as your thrown into the middle of not only the dragons but the civil war, once you start on the long road of travelling Skyrim you learn more about each side and the people who fight for them, I personally found the Legion more applying to join as their course seemed more justified to me, but hey, this is just personal preference.
The environment in Skyrim is in my opinion what sets the game apart from other RPG’s out today. The visual locations are stunning; the vast wilderness surrounding the many towns throughout the world makes the game come to life. No matter where you walk in the world and no matter what time of day you’ll be amazed at the beautiful environment. The snow on the mountains creates a real world of loneliness and isolation when you’re hiking to a new location. I spend most of my play time walking to quests no matter if their on the opposite side of the map. To really enjoy the game you and take in all the game has to offer you need to take the time to walk to the various locations, this way you see everything the game has to offer.
The combat plays the same as it does in previous games in the series. The real-time combat system works really well, you spend your time either in attack or defence mode but there are a number of different ways that you can approach a fight, it all depends on how you want to play the game. If you’re more of a person who loves to play stealthy then you’d get a better gaming experience sneaking and using your bows and arrows. Or if you like you can use magic, there are a wide range of spells and staffs at your disposal. If you’re like me and go for the classic shield and sword tactic you can master at block and one-handed weapons at defeat an enemy with ease.
The upgrading system plays a key to the development of your character. The ability tree controls your character progress, each time you level up you can unlock one perk. This can be used to unlock special abilities for skills such as paralysing one-handed attacks or dual wielding destruction skills. You individual skills will get strong based only from the style you are playing, for example I mainly use sword and shield so my one-handed combat and blocking is much higher than my archery and sneak skills. The amount of different elements you can unlock for each perk is huge, there is so much for each one that can help with your characters development throughout the game you’ll spend much time in deciding which you want to unlock first. The max level that your player can reach is 100 (to get to 100 would take a hell of a long time) so you have plenty of skills to improve on.
For any type of RPG to be a success there has to be a huge amount of characters that can be interacted with throughout the game. Skyrim does this and then some, there is an insane amount of characters scattered not only in the town but in the wilderness as well. Each one has their own back history and storyline and even names. The game deserves a lot of credit for putting effort into minor NPCs but all have their own names and personalities to create a more realistic setting. Even if there is an epidemic of ex-adventurers that have taken an arrow to the knee.The only characters that were nameless were the city guards and enemies you come across for example the bandits. I loved having the freedom to walk around where I like and getting to know each character and a lot of them will ask you to help them on a quest.
One particular quest I enjoyed was when I visited one of the taverns in Whiterun where I was asked to play a drinking game with another character. I agreed and after several rounds I beat him but then I passed out, when I woke up I was in a temple with a hangover. I began trying to find out what happened the night before, this lend me down an odd route from stealing a goat from a farmer and selling it to a giant, to getting engaged to a bird creature to finding out the man who challenged me to a drinking contents was actually a prankster demon. After a long quest I found him and he rewarded me with a staff. I found the quest enjoyable and fun as it was different to the other quests but that some up the game as it isn’t just serious quests there are some that are there for fun. The world of Skyrim is brimming with life and adventure that comes out around every corner, no matter where you walk either in the wilderness, mountains, riverside, cities or villages there something to demonstrate the unique world of Skyrim.
When roaming through the woods I have come across enemies fighting each other randomly and not taking any notice of me, one particularly example of this happening was bandits trying to kill giants so that they can attack their mammoths. These situations are not scripted scenarios either, the whole place just feels alive.
Skyrim is not a game where you can play on and off every now and again. To really enjoy and appreciate the full extent of the game you have to be willing to put the time and effort into it. There is a lot to take in, but because this is a big game you definitely get your money’s worth. It costs the same as new retail game but you don’t just get a game with only 7 or 8 hours worth of a campaign. I’ve been playing for over 24 hours and most of this is on side quests. I can easily say that Skyrim is the best example of how an RPG should work.
Summary: A brilliant RPG that immerses you into its world, Skyrim's only downfall is that it will consume your life - you have been warned!