RPG Index: Single player Role Playing Games

Monday, 2 January 2012


Genre: RPG, Adventure
Release Date: November 11th 2011
Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Score: 9/10
Similar: Kingdoms of Amalur, Dragon Age 1, Oblivion

Skyrim has had plenty of time to gather awards and circulate the market. You must be aware of this game by now, even if it's only because your kid or friend won't shut the hell up about it. The newest instalment of the Elder Scrolls series has really come a long way since its predecessor, Oblivion. I'd say it's money well spent, after already sinking an unhealthy amount of time into the game myself.

You can purchase a copy on virtually any platform, and if you enjoy playing it will kill your time faster than the internet can kill your faith in humanity. Which is exactly why I believe Skyrim is a brilliant game- even if it means siding with all the mainstream hipsters out there.

Welcome back to wandering around instead of killing stuff.

As you witness the opening cut scene you will realise the lands of Skryim aren't the most welcoming. There are crazy Nords running around rebelling against the not so glorious Imperial Empire. Other notable mentions of people who want to kill you are dragons and maybe a blond haired Stormcloak who likes the sound of his voice too much.

Imperials are the same as always, full of justice and black guys.

Character creation is the first part of the game and when you get to start pressing buttons. There is less customisation compared to Oblivion, but the presets do look prettier. Each race has different strengths, and you have plenty to choose from.

I have no explanation for this.

I have found the internet has a controversial opinion of the game- as opposed to the high praise it received from critics. Complaints mostly appear to revolve around changes developed since the older games, such as: incredibly simplistic puzzles, an engine riddled with minor bugs and problems, rounded off with an ingame GPS arrow that leads you from quest to quest like a dog on a lead.

I can understand how Oblivion lovers would be a little upset with some of the new mechanics, such as the lack of spell creation or new levelling system. But if you hear one of the many people saying the game is too easy, just ignore them. You can adjust how challenging combat is by downgrading your armour, over levelling your character, or just increasing the plain old difficulty.

Some of the perks really suck.

The puzzles you encounter are always patronisingly easy, which was somewhat frustrating. If you are going to put a complex trap in your dungeon, you wouldn't make it horrendously obvious what the secret code to get through is. If you're looking for a puzzle fix in your gaming, go play Boggle. Real men play Boggle.

With most of the bad points in Skyrim illustrated, I am free to talk about why it is so awesome. Instead of being overly critical and doing too much research, I bought it with no expectations, and settled into the game nicely with a lengthy session that had me dozing at the keyboard.

Bethesda never fail to deliver wonderful graphics.

Firstly, I'd like to mention how immersing the game is. As you stroll around a city you will hear new conversations, Guards will complement you on your new sword, children will mourne the death of the drunk who tried to fist fight a dragon.

Two dragons are better than one. Or not.

I spent hours chipping away at the endless side-quests and marvelling at the pretty new engine and the nuances. In some ways Skyrim is similar to a theme park; in the sense that you're probably not going to see all the rides in one day, or playthrough for that matter.

Initially when I heard about the new implemented weather system in Skyrim, I thought it would be a little unnecessary. However, it adds a nice atmosphere and you will notice it throughout your travels.

Since the range of spells is limited, some are overpowered.

One day you will travel across an area covered in sunlight with deer bouncing through the trees, only to find it covered in a blizzard the morning after. Oh yeah, that also means ice trolls and wolves will be on the prowl. If you're unlucky, you'll unknowingly stumble your way through the storm into a sleeping bear (or two, in my case).

Falmer and other old enemies return.

Combat is much the same as Oblivion, and you can build your character to fight with various weapons and spells. It's pretty simple to get started - grab your desired weapon or spell, bind it to the favorites menu and add a hotkey; then go Rambo like a boss. My main gripe about the combat is that at any point, you can take control of the excessive glitches in the game to beat your opponent and essentially cheat. It's possible to run away from a boss and wait for them to give up the chase, and then return to the battle without the boss even regenerating any health. For those of you that know and practice the gaming term 'kiting' - you can kill almost anything in the game at level one.

The bandits picked a fight with the wrong horse.

Although the quests given to you are endless and sometimes pretty interesting, it's possible to rush through the main storyline in a couple of hours. If you complete it too quickly you can lose all motivation to play further, but it also allows those people with less time on their hands to experience the best parts of Skryim without all the filler content eating their precious gaming minutes.

Quests are hard to manage but easy to track with the journal.

Factions play a major part in the game, and represent the longest and most yielding quest chains. There are various guilds to pick, from the ruthless Dark Brotherhood to the overextended Stormcloak rebellion. Completing quests for a faction will advance them towards their goals, such as conquering a new keep or gaining contacts in the government.

One of the most interesting new features is the perks system. You are given one perk point each level to allocate into your chosen skill. A lot of the points will be put into rather dull places, for example: increasing your sword damage by 20%, or making novice locks easier to open. However, there are some really cool perks you can obtain. One archery ability allows you to slow down time and zoom in, which is incredibly useful for precision arrows. A heavy armor perk makes your punches deal power with the strength of your gear - making you a titanic bear wrestling machine. You also can't fill up all the perks in one playthrough, so you have to build your character wisely or start again.

Nobody can resist beating on crabs.

So far the engine and the gameplay are wonderful and rarely let me down on my rather extensive escapades through Skyrim - which has uncovered most of the map by now. I don't quite know how it happens, but I tell myself I will stop and go to bed after finishing up a dungeon or quest - 5 hours later I decide the same thing again, but never muster enough willpower to actually stop playing.

Skyrim, when broken down into core elements - sadly turns out to be a very predictable game. The design layout revolves around getting some quests, completing some dungeons or killing some dragons and whatever else incurs your wrath; and returning home victorious to enchant/craft some items and sell the junk. Ten minutes later, you're off again to repeat the whole process. Despite this simple recurring theme, the quests will suck up your time and leave behind a trollface in the guise of a lacklustre reward.

Apparently this is what happens when dragons die.

Minor bugs and recurring glitches are very common throughout the game, but not something to be worried about- you will learn to deal with issues very quickly. Another frustrating flaw is the simplified inventory, which takes a little getting used to before you can navigate it quickly (or a handy mod if you play on the PC).

Navigating the spellbook can take a while.

One of the major points I've been trying to illustrate in this review is Skyrim isn't perfect. Just because your favorite gaming magazine thinks it is god's gift to gaming doesn't necessarily mean you will love it. One google search will reveal the people who didn't find the game adequate, preaching to others about how they shouldn't waste their money. My best suggestion is to play the game at a friends house, see if you like it yourself. If you don't have a friend who has Skyrim, then I don't think it would be out of place to say you need to get some more friends.

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