|The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim|
|Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks|
|Rating:||Mature for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol|
Game review by Wade Manns Reprinted by permission from eCorsair.com
It’s here! The most eagerly-anticipated RPG for many followers of the epic Elder Scrolls series has arrived. Is it worth the hype and all the positive feedback? Oh, yes, it certainly is!
Like all other games in the series, you begin by creating your character from one of ten races, either male or female, and you can also fine-tune their facial and body appearance for even more customization! This is one of those games that let you truly own your experience; more on that later.
In the fantastical realm of Tamriel, in the snowy lands of the province of Skyrim, two hundred years after the last of the Septim emperors was lost, you’re a prisoner accused of collaborating with a dissident faction which threatens to rip Skyrim apart. You’re moments from your execution when—A dragon! Roaring out of the sky, blasting the little village to dust and cinder, Alduin, the Nordic aspect of the Aedra (ancient god) Akatosh, is back to devour the world, or so ancient Nord prophecies foretell. You are a very rare breed, the Dragonborn, or Dovahkiin, the similarly prophesied hero. You have the power to collect the souls of dragons throughout the land and power your Shout ability; this is an innate magic power that allows you to alter reality with your voice!
It’s certainly something to be able to bowl people over by simply shouting an arcane word at them, but of course more power exists that lies in wait for you to find. Simply penetrate to the core of a number of the many lavishly detailed, very beautiful dungeons littered throughout the land, and absorb the Word of Power that glows on the wall before you; then, with a collected dragon soul, you may equip it and partake in a little of its power! You must, however, find all the words in a set before the Words unlock their full potential…
The journey to become strong enough to defeat Alduin is a long one, but it’s far from dull. Every corner hides another mine, cavern, shack or small village that has secrets to be revealed. And the nine grand holds throughout the land (Whiterun, Winterhold, Solitude and Riften are four of them) serve as the cities from which you’ll do most of your questing.
There have been some changes to the previous Elder Scrolls formulae, including the fact that there are no major or minor skills anymore, and each leveled skill contributes to level up. Each level gained confers an increase to your choice of Health, Magicka (magic energy) or Stamina, as well as a perk (or special ability) that can be assigned to any skill you desire. This results in a more free-form character development experience, as opposed to previous games where you pretty much had to specialize.
It also may take some getting used to the interface: a button press leads you to a compass-style screen with your Skills, Magic, Map and Items arranged around it; you hold a direction to go into the desired screen. This appears to be a concession to console gamers, but I found it easy enough to get used to after a while. The PC version has some unbindable keys in inventory and conversation modes at this writing, requiring you to use the defaults which may be in awkward positions, but again, you can get used to that.
One of the potentially tedious things about the game is that it takes a long time to level up – but this seems to be more about the pacing of the game and how many hours you’re likely to pour into it. It’s not a fast blast through the experience meter by any means. You’re better off not worrying about that, and just deal with things as they come up.
Be warned: This world is incredibly deep and enthralling, and a little knowledge of past Elder Scrolls events will do you good, but is not necessary. That being said, I am seven hours into the game and am only at the fourth phase (of very many) of the main quest; expect to spend upwards of a hundred hours (and many more!) trying to find everything, if Oblivion and Fallout 3 were any indication. But like those previous Bethesda titles, this is an incredibly detailed and beautiful game, and I most definitely recommend it to everyone who can deal with the mature subject matter that these types of games have come to exhibit. Five out of five!
There are already bugfixes out for the PS3 version of the game, with X-Box 360 and PC patches on the way.
About the Author
Wade Manns is currently finishing his General Associate of Arts with a major in Journalism. In addition to his work for Krypton Radio, he also writes and edits for the Corsair, the student-run paper at Pensacola State College. His passion is video games, but he also likes reading science fiction, spending time with friends and engaging in social networking.