Product Type: Bethesda Xbox 360 games
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The Sky(rim) Is The Limit!
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Xbox 360)
Member Name: Jonny_Two_Times
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Xbox 360)
Date: 09/12/11, updated on 12/12/11 (24 review reads)
Advantages: Swords, shields, I'm a warrior king!
Disadvantages: Completely massive
As my headline would suggest there is very little you can't do on Skyrim.
For a quick pre-review personal opinion broadcast I would like to say the game is an epic, sword swinging, dragon pummeling, ogre bashing, fire breathing blast. Almost a 5-star from me. And on to the review...
Game size and scale:
The scale of Skyrim is phenomenal, choosing to have your character walk from his/her current position to another destination on the map can take hours. (I've tried it). Thankfully there are horses to be ridden, a helpful horse and cart taxi driver at each major city, and fast-travel options that save you from this tedium. THOUGH to use fast travel you must have been to the destination already, so if it is a cave in the middle of nowhere that you need to reach - well a horse is the only viable option. However if you don't have enough gold to buy that shiny new horse OR you morally can't steal a horse from that poor farmer... well you'll be going on foot my friend.
I have read that the game can be completed in 75 minutes and it is true but don't worry, that was one of the main game testers from Skyrim creaters Bethesda - and he must have played the game over 100 times and of course missed out side quests and stories etc.
There is a thought that the game was designed with the intention that if a player immersed him/her self in all it has to offer then there is a chance it won't be completed - inside a year anyway. Though anyone under the age of 18 will try and defy that I'm sure. I for one am nowhere near completion - which is good - because eveytime I go on the options continue to be almost limitless.
Origin and personal confession:
With a history of massive game creation we weren't expecting a a small time platform game. With their recent games being a success beyond belief (Oblivion, Fall Out 3) this was always going to be epic - how would they make it even bigger and better?
And here comes my confession, I apologise for any offence caused - my opinion only, which of course means nothing in the scheme of things. I didn't Like Oblivion and didn't bother with Fallout. They were too big, not enough direction, big for the sake of being big, pointlessly complex. And of course the loading times were completely hideous - unbearable. More time was spent in loading screens than in actual game time. For these reasons I was against Skyrim before I had a chance to look at it.
BUT how terrific was the advertising campaign? Trailers filmed on authentic sets with real actors, lots of action, the warrior in his seriously cool horned helmet. Yep that was enough for me to get a little bit excited. I checked out the Bethesda YouTube channel and got a lot more excited. Decision made - I'm buying it. (I retained the thought that I would probably be trading it in in a week).
Perhaps I've matured. Or maybe just grown a pair. Anyway I bought, played, and loved it. Let's look at some more details...
Gameplay: (possible first 5 minutes spoiler)
There are lots of character race options and customisation of looks, features, skill set, abilities etc. This isn't normally my bag, I want to get in to the game and start swinging a sword but this was done really well. The opening scene has you travelling in a cart, one of a few prisoners being transported to your execution destination. When your name is called, you step forward and then you build your character... when you are done the scene continues with your now personalised character in the role. You are straight in to the action with the first of the dragons making an appearance. No more spoilers I promise.
Controls are strong, nice easy movement, though slightly slow reaction time (more on this in the next section), the 'back' button takes you into skills, magic, map etc. The now normal 2 handed trigger use, dual weapons or a shield or spell use.
Menus are big and complex but you will pick it up fairly quickly, though if you're like me I sometimes forget what I've assigned to certain function buttons and end up sending a fireball into a group of civilians rather than healing myself. Just me then.
Loading times are much improved, they seem like no time at all (compared to the previous games).
Fighting dragons is as cool as you would imagine. And slaying one makes you feel super macho - it is really well done. Though they do appear at the most inopportune moments... And attempting to fight one in the dark is a nightmare.
Graphically it's a mixed bag. Landscapes and the sky are wonderful, the giants, dragons and woolly mammoths are impressive, but some of the AI movement and smaller details are so old school. I'm just being picky.
Ability levelling up is brilliant, there is no better feeling than successfully picking a lock and hearing the drum roll of a level up. You can then use unlocked perk points to improve in any area you wish - as long as you have enough experience in a certain area to be trained to a higher level. Meaning you have to play and experience things to improve. A winning formula.
The menus can be slow and jumpy, selecting options you don't want, skipping about at the lightest touch of the joystick. There are still the odd moments of getting stuck in the graphics and not being able to move - meaning you have to load the last save to escape. Highly annoying. The fighting is hit and miss, swinging your sword wildly seems to be the best option because try and make a controlled hit and you often miss and leave yourself open for getting hacked with an axe yourself. Sneak attacks are generally a miss with any close quarters weapons. You've crept up behind someone seated, pull back your axe for a power sneak attack and... I've had the experience of my character going right through the character I'm attempting to assassinate without causing him damage and then getting literally stabbed in the back.
It doesn't get a 5-star from me because it's not perfect but...
It's highly engaging, you feel like a warrior with a lot to give to those you choose to assist. To draw you in like that means it achieves its purpose. You want to improve, you want to level up, you want to become stronger, tougher, more skillful. There is enough guidance in the game so that you don't feel lost or helpless, I think the rule is this - do what you want to do, leave stuff you don't. There is no obligation to join certain groups or complete certain tasks. The choice my friend is yours. It won me over so I think it will get you as well. Give it a go. Enjoy.
Summary: Wonderfully epic and engaging RPG that all can tuck in to