BRR: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Review

Ah, Skyrim, such a pleasant and massive treat.  I have decided that it would be a really bad idea to start this whole reviewing thing with a game like this, but I’m reckless enough to try.

Let me begin with two things.  One, I hated Oblivion.  I hated the degrading of weapons, the unfriendly user interface, the intimidatingly large world, and how progress seemed impossible in a game like it.  I spent 40 hours on it, and will never look back.  I managed to go to the second town in the game, until I tried riding a horse and gave up.  Two, I spent 172 hours on this game, and regret none of it.  It’s one of the best games I played in 2011.

Release Date: 11/11/11
Platforms: Xbox 360(Reviewed), PlayStation 3, PC
Price I Paid: $59.99

The game opens with you about to be decapitated for an unknown crime, that even the executioners don’t even know.  But then, a dragon swoops in, burns up the town.  From here, you are given a general choice, go with the people who were two seconds away from ending your brain’s relationship with your heart, known as the Empire.  Or, the group whose king was captured along with you, known as the Stormcloaks.  

After you make the logical decision, you learn that those two factions are in a civil war of sorts occurring in Skyrim, one based on religion and the how one should live their life.  It’s fairly interesting, but I just wanted to shout the face off of the Emperor, which was awesome when I finally did it, twice!  By shout his face off, I refer to the abilities scattered across the land of Skyrim, the Dragon Shouts.  An ability granted only to you, the Dragonborn.  

You need to kill off these dragons, absorb their soul, and wander across this vast 15 square mile land to find all 20 of these mighty abilities.  Which, while really neat, aren’t as useful as you may think.  During my playthrough, I mainly used two shouts, Aura Whisper, which locates enemies so I could be occasionally stealthy, and Elemental Fury, which near doubles your attack speed for a brief amount of time.  It was absolutely necessary for some bosses who could kill me in about 4 or 5 hits.  From what I gathered, this game uses level scaling, where the enemy’s strength is based on your current level, but this method can make some fights earlier on far too difficult and far too easy later on.  

However, leveling is a strange little thing in this game, you have 24 skills divided into 3 groups, Magic, Warrior, and Stealth.  Each of them have their own leveling that can be upped by either practicing with said skill, pick pockets for a higher pickpocketing level, get hit while wearing heavy armor for better heavy armor skill, etc.  Once you level up enough skills, you gain an actual level, where you get two things, an upgrade of your Health, Magicka, or Stamina.  And a perk that can be used in a skills skill tree.  

Intertwined into these skills are three crafting based classes that are needed to survive the later optional parts.  Said classes are Smithing, which allows you to craft armor made of dragon scales and upgrade blade made of concentrated evil.  Enchanting let’s you use the captured souls of your foes to add bonus effects that you got from destroying other enchanted items.  And Alchemy, where you either look up a guide or waste all your live bees and troll fat to make some poison resistance potions.  It is a neat little system, but has the downside of making some battles feel less rewarding when you don’t receive any kind of level up for killing a rather difficult boss.  

But this can often be forgotten when fighting a dragon, where you get some truly epic music playing while and after battling it.  It makes you feel like a badass, but then you pick up it’s remains, only to become over encumbered with wildflowers and crystallized souls, and needing to drop some things so you can fast travel to the local shop, assuming that it’s both open, and has any gold left.  It’s a design decision that, while realistic and does keep your inventory tidy, can halt your journey while you have your character stand around and stare at a wall for a few in game hours and wait for a general goods store to open up.  It is somewhat annoying, because I loved exploring this game, from the steamy Eastmarch, to the giant filled fields of The Pale, to the lovely coniferous forest of Falkreath.

It is a fully realized and beautiful world.  The quests also compliment the world’s beauty, you travel across the land, encountering cave bears, exploring the steam-punk Dwemer ruins that are filled with banished snow elves, dealing with the multiple demonic princes across the land, meeting talking dogs, fulfilling the last wishes of a sailor, rebuilding an order of thieves, becoming a Werewolf, gaining a spouse, working to become a Thane of all nine holds, and ever so much more.  

This is a bit hindered by a few side quest breaking glitches.  Of which I encountered 5, but the glitches in this game can be pretty cool as well. From dragons that fly backwards and leave their bones to pollute the gate of Whiterun, the arrows that float on what appears to be nothing, floating mammoths, and just generally odd behavior make this a game where the good and fun glitches outweigh the bad.  

However, there are only, what sounds like only 20 or so voice actors, but the main quest, which centers on you taking a mace to an ancient dragon’s face, has a very epic feel to it, and stands on its own.  The game also has a wonderful atmospheric score, from the calm town theme, to the dramatic chanting whenever you learn a word in the dragon language or obtain a dragon soul, it’s the first game where I actually bought the soundtrack for crying out loud.  

Despite a few glitches, this game is a wonderful experience.  I would recommend it to anyone with enough time on their hands, but not enough to go after a theoretical 100%.  It’s wonderful visuals and audio, and simplistic, but tight mechanics make this one of the best games I’ve played in this generation.  

The game manages creates a lovely aesthetic, great gameplay, and may only be lacking a few additions or a bit of polish.

//I think that I was too brief with this review, but it was my first, and I did end up cutting a lot out, so I do not have much to add.  I would re-do this, but my memories of Skyrim are more passive than most, and I hate looking back on my work, because I would at best claim that my works were not that bad.  But I have not given that a lot of thought because no one has criticized my work as of yet. 

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