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GAME REVIEW: FTN looks back at Skyrim

October 29th, 2012 by Leigh 4 Comments

Skyrim is a notable open world game from 2011 with a colossal amount of content which will definitely have you stuck to your screen for over 100 hours if you’ve got the time.As a new chapter in the Elder Scrolls series, the game is set 200 years into the future after Oblivion.

Its Wonderfully creative use of fighting skills give you hundreds of weapons, abilities and magic spells to choose from that will let you mould and shape your character as you play. Your missions often have two or more ways to play. This is how you know if you are a merciless monster or a heroic savour.

This game gives you constant surprises that will keep you on the edge of your seat. It is doubtful that anyone will have the exact experience with the game since you can either play the main quest the whole way through and then all the little ones or just complete them as you find them. Quests are taken down in a quest log which are then ticked off as you complete them.

At the beginning of the game – after you have made your character out of several human, elven, cat, or dragon looking faces – you are thrown right into the action as you run for your life from a fire-breathing dragon and you choose who you wish to escape with; either a storm cloak rebel or an imperial soldier. This choice does not fully affect the game, but it does change a little bit of the story as will some of the other choices you make.

Once you escape you go to a city called Whiterun and here you must help kill a dragon. It is here that you discover your first Thu’um and absorb a dragon soul. The soldiers with you tell you that you may be a dragon born (Dovahkiin) who can naturally speak the dragon language and you should go to High Hrothgar to see the Grey Beards who will teach you how to use your powers properly. On the way you are met with many foes such as bandits, bears, giants, other dragons, sabre tooth tigers etc.

Thu’ums are essential to the game and as you fight through dragons and other foes you level up and may find more  on the way, each with different effects. You can breathe fire, run at amazing speeds and knock your enemies right of their feet. Each of them have three words which will be completed as you find them after defeating certain dragons in the wilderness. Other dragons are randomly generated, like bears and other enemies and are generally weaker than the ones you find at specific locations.

The levelling up system is fairly simple with a main level up bar which fills as you fill up smaller bars such as smiting, one-handed combat and magic, etc. As you level up, so do your enemies, so the game will always have a challenge in it. Every time you do fully level up you are awarded with a perk which you can use to contribute to a specific skill such as smiting. This means you can do more things with this skill like making more valuable armour. Once level 50 is met it becomes significantly difficult to level up but it is still possible until every skill is at level 100 with perks still awarded. You may also store the perks. Some features of the game remind me of Fall Out, but a major difference would be the way you don’t have to choose major skills and perks at the beginning of the game. You gradually choose them and this way it’s harder to make a decision that you may later want to change.

The presentation of the game is beautiful. Vast areas untouched by industrial factories cover the lands with humongous spines of rocky mountain, seas of trees with crumbling catacombs beneath the ground are soothing to the eyes as you travel Skyrim either on hoarse back, foot or fast travel. Stunning attention to detail has been made with this game even with the buildings, armour, weapons and spells. Once gaining the trust of the Jarls of the game you may buy a house in their city and kit it out with magical weapons which you can hang on the walls, fill the book cases or buy more furniture for your stuff. As you travel, you may talk to travelling merchants, keep up with quests or just wander and enjoy the scenery until an enemy appears. The wild life in Skyrim becomes immediately hostile as soon as they notice you but you may sneak around them if you’re skilled enough.

A variety of guilds are presented which will have you work through quests that will boost your skill in whatever that guild is best at. Eventually after working your way through the quests you become leader of that guild.

The combat of the game is pretty smooth with a magic bar, a health bar and a stamina bar shown on screen, as you either get damage, use your spells or strike someone with your sword they will deplete as you go on. Stamina will go down as you run too so be careful. There is no multi-player in this game but this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. To me it lets the player concentrate on the story much better rather than competing with other angry noisy players.

The conversations with NPC’s Flow very well and most of the adult voices are spot on but I can’t help thinking it a bit annoying how the children have full on american voices instead of nord ones like the adults. Facial animations are improving, but sometimes still seem a little stiff. body language is a little robotic at times also but other than that, it’s pretty good. The music in the game is wonderful. it gives a great sense of mystery and adventure the whole way through and smoothly changes as the action and mood of the moment changes too.

Combat is quite good in certain areas but there are some things they could have improved such as when fighting with a sword and striking an enemy as sometimes it can feel quite ‘floaty’ as the sword doesn’t quite seem to connect with the body, but if you get the right perks you can decapitate the enemy.

Weapon selection during combat feels very free with the ability to wield a dagger in one hand and a spell in the other. If melee isn’t your thing you can go all-out wizard and use any magical combination in your arsenal, for example healing in one hand and fire in the other. You can learn spells from spell books that you find or buy them from a shop. It’s a very smart and flexible system that makes the magic run perfectly from your finger tips.

There are a few bad things about the game – the kids’ voices, floaty swords, as already mentioned – such as general glitches (likely as the game is massive), freezes, and companions. Companions can be helpful at times as the game sometimes doesn’t give you much room to carry stuff, annoying, but the designers were trying to be realistic with this. However, you can get the companion to carry all your stuff. The downside? They can charge in on enemies when you’re trying to be sneaky, sometimes they’ll just disappear with all your stuff  then turn later in the game. Some of them die pretty easily too but honestly, that’s not so bad.

Overall, this game is brilliant and definitely up there with the likes of Bioshock and Gears of War. Beautifully made, it’s memorable and has smooth controls with pretty good stories that will keep you wanting more as you gain rewards that will make it feel worth the time and effort. True, the game has some minor problems which could probably be fixed, but I’d still recommend it highly to anyone.

Four out of Five Nerds

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Hi my name's Leigh. I'm a Bronie. I love xbox games like halo reach, Fall out 3 AND Assassin's Creed but I'm also partial to some old Nintendo games like Pokemon blue, Zelda and the Ocarina, Super Mario and what not. I play guitar and like anime and am loving The Walking Dead. I'm still at school and will be staying on, but it won't be keeping me back from all this. Oh and I'm also a big fan of the Harry Potter books...