Friday, July 6, 2012

The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim

The Elder Scrolls! The very title gives RPG players a sense of wonder and with good reason. When I first finished Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, I clocked in 100 hours before finishing it. It was that good of a game. I am happy to say that its sequel, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, is just as good!

Skyrim is the name of a northern province in the Tamerial gameworld where the Elder Scrolls is located and IT IS HUGE! However Skyrim isn’t just big; it is beautiful. Everything was drawn beautifully and you could literally sense how much care and effort Bethesda took to ensure everything was gorgeous. Even for me, a guy who firmly believes gameplay and story are much more important than graphics, the landscapes of Skyrim are truly breathtaking.

The overall feel of the game was also top notch. The land of Skyrim is supposed to be mountainous and by the Nine Divines, Bethesda got that down. The mountains, valleys, meadows and people feel just right for the province and the meticulous attention to detail truly made Skyrim a joy to explore.  

Of course as a RPG, the game live and die on its’ quests. On this, Bethesda truly shines. The story of Skyrim wasn’t much to talk about (much like Oblivion), but the sheer variety of quests in the game more than made up for it. I have played over 100 hours and I still have about over 20 quests in my questbook to complete. Better yet, a few of the quests has a “Wow” factor (Hint; Dark Brotherhood) to them that were incredible!

There were some dark spots in the game though. For one, I found that there were a lot of bugs in the game and we are talking about major bugs here that will stop you from completing quests and storylines. I had to go online to find a way to go around the “forever mourning” bug that plagued the Companions quests and mind you, I played Skyrim months after it came out so I’m surprised there’s still such a major bug in the game.

Another bug is the inability to use new “Shouts”. This one drives me up the wall because “Shouts” are such an important ability in the story but outside the ones you learned in-story, there is just no way to learn new “Shouts”. Bethesda put in a lot of them as a sort of Easter egg but what’s the use of finding a new “Shout” in a dungeon when you can’t use it?

Another thing I dislike is the way cut scenes are handled in the game. All the cut scenes (with only a few exceptions) are done in-game. However everytime an NPC walks past you, the NPC will give a comment on your latest exploits. So what happen a few times is that I will be viewing a cut scene, enjoying the story between the characters and then a NPC (who is not involved in the scene) will walk by me and then gives a useless comment that ruined the whole cut scene.

Yes, I know I said the story is not one of the stronger points of the game but to me, this is a silly problem to have. How hard could it be to ensure that useless NPCs keep their mouth shut while you’re in the middle of a cut scene?

In the end however, I have to strongly recommend this game to gamers. While I agree with some people’s comments that Skyrim doesn’t do anything to address the weaknesses of Oblivion, to me it doesn’t really matter. Oblivion was a great game and you don’t need to fix what’s not broken. Despite the bugs, Skyrim gives you big, bold and beautiful open world that will make you waste your life for a month or three. It is a game with great depth and arguably even better than Oblivion. I fully expect it to be acknowledged as a classic in a few years time. Play it if you don’t believe me; you will not regret it.

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