The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Review
publisher: Bethesda Softworks
developer: Bethesda Softworks
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Nov 11, 11
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Every time we witness the launch of a big game, we are flooded with waves and waves of questions before we publish our opinion on it. With Skyrim, Betheda's latest addition to the RPG series The Elder Scrolls, we got more questions than ever before. While a lot of people were getting jittery in anticipation of what's probably one of the biggest releases this year, others were desperate for details on specific aspects of the gameplay. People were eager to find out if this game was actually worth the wait. Is it really worth buying? Well, buckle up Buttercup, that's what you're about to find out.
Set 200 years after the events in Oblivion, The Elder Scrolls V takes us away from the province of Cyrodiil and brings us to a new setting - Skyrim, with a whole new set of problems. The Empire isn't as revered as before, and things have significantly worsened after the assassination of the king of Skyrim. This deed hurled the realm into a wide-spread civil war that's currently being fought between those who support the Empire and those who wish to be independent from it. The story kicks off with a dramatic and suspenseful opening scene that takes place in a small town high up in the mountains as your character -- an unknown prisoner -- slowly approaches the execution block, along with a number of other captives who were sentenced to death by the Empire. Citizens watch in dismay and silence while the soldiers of the Empire start executing the prisoners. A sudden and completely terrifying shriek echoes in the distance. The soldiers are instructed to proceed regardless. The shriek is heard again, as the fear of the townsfolk and prisoners builds up. The shriek has now turned into an incredible roar, as a massive dragon appears on the horizon and attacks the town, interrupting the execution and killing several people instantly. You manage to elude the colossal beast by going through an underground passage, which leads out of the town and into the mountains.
My very own special mixture, coming up!
Ah, the ever-popular backstab. Gotta love it.
The enraged dragon is nowhere to be seen. The dramatic music changes to a nice gentle tune that goes brilliantly with the mountainous surroundings. There's a strong northerly wind blowing and you make your way slowly towards the nearest settlement, to restock and recuperate from the dragon encounter. In time, you begin to learn more about the dragon attack and you soon discover that you are the last Doväkiin (Dragonborn) - a dragon hunter - who bears an incredible gift. The Doväkiin are powerful warriors with the ability to use the power of dragons in a way no mortal can.
At this point, the real journey begins. You'll travel across grassy plains, hard rocky terrain, lush forests, and towering mountain tops, delve into dark caves, visit vast cities, small villages and many other locations that can be discovered through quests or simply by exploring the land freely. Just so you know, the introduction sequence is over relatively quickly, but it gives you enough time to learn some of the basics of melee and ranged combat. During the intro, you are asked to identify yourself and that's when you are introduced to the game's many character customization options (more on that later). Similarly to its predecessors, Skyrim is all about first-person combat, even though players can switch to the 3rd person perspective at any time during the game. However, the game was clearly optimized to be experienced primarily from a first-person view.
Customizing your character means you can choose from a variety of races. Some are more inclined towards magic and ranged combat, while others rely more on physical strength and are better at hand-o-hand combat. Other facets need to be considered when choosing a race, such as weapon specialty, resistance to frost, fire and so on. The detailed character creation system also allows for a variety of visual tweaks, from hair style, eye color and cheekbone size, to the avatar's overall shape and stature.
A detailed and beautiful-looking world with so many secrets you are left to discover when and how you wish, great story and characters keep you interested in the game, a brilliant soundtrack and good voiceovers, solid side-quests, commendable variety in gameplay mechanics that leads to virtually endless combinations in combat, involving magic, dual-wielding and the new Shout ability;
Encountering dragons randomly in the world gets a bit dull sometimes, friendly AI behaves awkwardly, other minor technical issues.