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Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Review

By Ford Flynn

For those of you who live under a rock, Skyrim is the fifth instalment of Bethesda's fantasy/action RPG series; The Elder Scrolls. Skyrim is rated at the MA 16+ equivalent and is playable on PC, Xbox 360 or Playstation 3, but I bought it on PC as I usually mod the hell out of The Elder Scrolls on my second play through, but I digress. Skyrim was released world wide on the 11th of November 2011, which coincidentally was the day I stopped showing any signs of productivity or social activity for about a month and for good reason.

Seeing as Skyrim is a fairly demanding game on PC, I guess I should tell you the system requirements. System requirements for PC users are: OS must be windows 7, vista or XP. The processor must be Dual Core 2.0 GHz. Your computer must have 7GB of free space and have a Direct X 9.0c compliant video card with 512mb of RAM. For those of you fancy rich people with Multi-Core than there are enhanced options for game play.

Beginning to play Skyrim I noticed that it is a very “pretty” game so to speak. The first five or so minutes are spent in a carriage, with soft music and fantastic scenery all around. Although you soon learn you are a prisoner of war, bound for the chopping block along with the rebel leader of the civil war; Ulfric Stormcloak. Right before you get 10 inches off the top, you get to design the head you're about to lose. I went with a wood elf, who utilized a very large, very spiky hammer, mostly for the irony.

It's at this point that it is decided I'm most eligible to lose my head but as fate would have it, a dragon shows up and starts yelling at everyone like everything wrong is their fault. After dodging falling rocks and running through the town I was given the choice of either escaping with the friendly rebels or the imperials who were trying to give me a headsman's haircut. Seeing as I don't have the brain of a doormat, I went with the rebels who were less likely to kill me.

After this the game world opens up: you can continue on your trail of becoming dragonborn, killing dragons with the ultimate goal of stopping them from ravaging the land, you can join a side in the civil war or you can just play around with the features that Skyrim has to offer. The more I played around in the huge sandbox of Skyrim, the more I got absorbed into it, much like a nice warm bath after a long day of work which is occasionally ruined by a suspicious floating object. See, Skyrim has many glitches and most of the conversations with friends about it just turned to seeing who had the funnier glitches. My personal favourite was near the start where I was tasked with obtaining a mammoth tusk. The most logical move for me was to find and kill a mammoth. After running around the frozen tundra, I eventually found a group of them. As I started my assault it let out a large roar and begun to float majestically away into the sunrise. Needless to say, I was watching the sky for things other than dragons.

Voice acting. A real immersion killer with oblivion, as most NPCs didn't get the memo on which voice actor was theirs, so they often swapped around just to be safe. Often I would come across a beggar who would switch from talking in a coarse voice, begging for gold who then begun telling me about how they loved shopping at the fanciest clothing store. In general, the NPCs have been done much better in Skyrim. They have differentiating voices, conversations with other NPCs and generally seem not bad. On the topic of NPCs, you can now get married to one, Choosing either to be homosexual or straight. Anyone who had read my Mass Effect 3 review would know that I'm not particularly fond of going into relationships with a load of ones and zeros as it rarely has any beneficial features. Skyrim did not cause any epiphanies for me however, some spouses do have some benefits like providing a daily sum of gold or cooking you a nice, warm, home made meal.

The other side of the NPC coin is the enemy NPCs. Who, in the nicest possible way, fight like high gorillas. In fact, Skyrim's combat generally stinks, not in a wholly bad way, it's just too easy. I blame the new shouting ability. As funny it is to rag doll-ise NPCs and send them flying, or disarm them with a few words and leave them to fight you with their fists, it just throws the balance out of whack. I suppose I could just not use the shouts instead of whining about it, but Skyrim's selling point was you could learn the dragon language and win battles by essentially violently debating with things.

I guess that's just nit picking now. Skyrim is a very enjoyable game and despite the fact that some glitches can just kill a mood, you only need look to the horizon and see the amazing scenery. In fact, I avoided buying horses or using the fast travel just so I could experience the rolling landscape. From the snowy tundra, to the forests. From the rocky mountains to the sandy shores, you can see that there was a lot of attention to detail in this game and the random encounters that you experience just add to the overall immersive quality that Skyrim boasts.

I have to confess that me and TES have gotten along well but lately I have noticed it has a habit of repeating itself. Both Skyrim and Oblivion begin with you being arrested for some unexplained reason, both games have a city destroyed by the main enemy etc. It isn't that much of an issue though, but if ideas are already running dry this early into mainstream gaming then the next game is going to be an issue.

This being said, each Elder Scrolls game have no connection to the previous, meaning they could pass as an individual game rather than a piece in a series. That is one of the great things that it does. I don't even care that much about the glitches, silly combat or repetitiveness because I know that each TES game will be a whole new experience. In short, if you can look pass the flaws then you will have a great time playing this game. It's the type of game you can play for hours and it will seem like minutes, and you'll enjoy every single one of those minutes. It's like sitting behind a guy with an afro in your favourite movie. If you can look pass the gargantuan blob of hair in front of you, then the effort will make you enjoy the movie that much more knowing you thwarted the efforts of the hairy beach ball.

Overall rating: 9.3

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