Product Type: Bethesda PS3 games
Newest Review: ... happening across all types of mystical and magical enemies and allies. Bethesda the developers are well known for their open world ... more
Epic? Yes. Masterpiece? Not so much.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PS3)
Member Name: dididave
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PS3)
Advantages: Endless gameplay, vast and lush environment, numerous ways to play the game.
Disadvantages: Lags on PS3, your character is a little clumsy, combat is a mixed bag.
Skyrim is everywhere. It is a phenomenon in gaming that hasn't been seen in many years as Bethseda have seemingly accomplished the impossible, a swords and sorcery Role Playing Game that everyone wants to play. Role Playing Games have always had a very dedicated but niche market, Skyrim's marketing machine has belied that and has overtaken the populace. The question remains though, is it actually any good?
The story begins in a thought provoking although perhaps cliched fashion. You are given numerous decisions to make early on. What race will you be? Will you be a warrior or a mage? Will you go down the rebel path or that or becoming a law abiding citizen? All of these decisions have varying effects and open up the game in various ways and that is the biggest strength of Skyrim. You make decisions and choose how you want to play. Of course there is a central story to follow but this is arguably the weakest part of the game as many of the side stories are far more enriching and interesting. You might decide to join the Mage Guild and study the arcane arts or be recruited by the Dark Brotherhood an elite group of assassins. Whatever paths you choose open up a whole new set of stories, quests, perils and rewards. The possibilities really are endless and it isn't an exaggeration to say that this is a game that you could play indefinitely.
However, the sheer size of the game does lead to a number of problems. Wandering around the humongous World of Skyrim while very satisfying is very daunting. It is also not as "free" as you are lead to believe. You character might be a multi-talented mage/warrior/assassin but expect to be frustrated by rocks and hillsides and punished in an unforgiving fashion for wandering from the designated paths. You might be able to summon the wrath of the God's but try not to conquer the almighty slightly steep hillside! It is a relatively minor gripe as it is still a pleasure to traverse the rich and varied landscape that is Skyrim and graphically the game is without equal. There are few things more majestic than standing a the throat of the World looking out at the Northern Lights and the whole game graphically is a thing of beauty.
Sadly, a much reported problem with the PS3 version of this game is freezing and lag and this is something I have experienced relatively frequently although not enough to spoil the enjoyment of the game. Certainly as you progress and the game demands more from your hardware there can be noticeable slowdown in texture rich and battle strewn areas although this is something that is said to be rectified in an upcoming update.
In terms of sound Skyrim is perfectly balanced with ominous and soaring orchestral scores and a huge raft of tailored audio. There are occasions were characters suffer from repetition but on the whole even the most minor of characters have rich personalities and react in a variety of ways depending on your behaviour. Everything in this game is about action and reaction and the audio enhances the experience as you hear a roaring dragon overhead signalling an impending attack or hear the chittering of a large insect someone out of sight.
Skyrim is incredibly atmospheric and cinematic in places and there are particular areas of the game were you feel totally immersed as if part of a movie. Particular highlights for me including horror scenes in a haunted house straight out of your worst nightmares and storming a citadel as part of a rebellious army. However, these things are merely the tip of the iceberg and the the variety of gameplay is what makes this game worth the purchase. You can approach the game as a simple hack and slash affair scything down goblins and chopping off a bandit chiefs head and indeed, there is a certain amount of visceral enjoyment to that. However, you can also get married and enjoyed all the advantages (and disadvantages!) therein, open a merchants stall, become a detective solving murders or even a singing bard. The devil really is in the detail in this game and it would be nigh on impossible to explain all the options available to you.
As I have mentioned earlier Skyrim is far from perfect in terms of gameplay although if one thing frustrates you, you can simply tackle something else. Combat in particular is very much a mixed bag. Unlike many Role Playing Games, Skyrim's combat system is largely stripped down to make it accessible meaning you have little variety in terms of attacks and defence with the enemy pulling off spectacular thrusts and spins while you look somewhat clumsy. This is compensated by some superb "kill sequences" which provide a Mortal Kombat-esque array of finish him moves. The use of magic also makes combat far more of a tactical affair as you summon warriors to fight by your side or use your raw powers to force enemies away from you.
In terms of difficulty, the freeform nature of the questing also leads to massive unpredictabilities in terms of what you are stumbling into. If you simply follow the main quests in a linear fashion you will likely get destroyed time and again as you enter dungeons and other areas woefully underprepared, underpowered and unequipped. The game doesn't tell you to go off and do a number of side quests to level up and as such unlock some decent attacks and find some decent equipment but after you get annihilated by a giant or bandit for the millionth time, it's a lesson you learn the hard way. Ironically, dragons the foe that are supposed to provide the main thrust and threat of the story are arguably one of the easiest foes to defeat as you pick them off easily with your bow.
I seem to be talking a lot about the problems with Skyrim but that doesn't mean I don't like it. In fact it's a great game that should have something that appeals to everyone. The only thing I would say is that because it does have something for everyone, it doesn't quite excel at anything. In aiming to appeal to the masses Skyrim is a watered down Role Playing Game but it is still a fine game and one I would recommend to anyone. It lacks the tight narrative of an Arkham City but when you get this much gameplay for your money, it's hard to care.
Summary: A huge epic of a game that despite not being the perfect masterpiece people proclaim, is great value
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