Product Type: Bethesda Xbox 360 games
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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Xbox 360)
Member Name: AverageJoseph
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Xbox 360)
Date: 07/03/13, updated on 07/03/13 (32 review reads)
Advantages: Environment, Soundtrack, DRAGONS, Combat, Story, Length
Disadvantages: Dumbed Down, Menus, Glitches, Phrases
In the Beginning
As a big fan of The Elder Scrolls series, I was looking forward to Skyrim with much anticipation. Having severely scoured the island of Vvardenfell in the Dark Elf province of Morrowind as well as Oblivion's Imperial land of Cyrodiil (albeit to a lesser extent), the ancient home of the Nords was very much next in line. Coming across various trailers set in a snowy mountainous landscape with intense music and best of all, a gigantic dragon about to do battle, I had a good idea of what I was getting into. What I didn't know however was that Skyrim (Standard Edition) was priced at £55 on my pre-order receipt with GAME. Now I've been buying video games for over a decade and never seen such scrupulous money grabbing before, so it wasn't surprising news to see GAME go into administration 3 months later. I don't know whether this was just a cruelly shrewd business move by the distributors or a RRP price set by Bethesda, but regardless of Skyrim's content, it wasn't worth more than any other brand new game (I believe even £40 is steep for what most games offer). After I proceeded to tear up my non-obligatory inflated order and found it online for a default price of just under £40, I tore straight into the game, playing a good few hours, training up for an epic adventure across a giant winterland.
"Dovahkiin, By his honor is sworn to keep evil forever at bay" (Story)
As usual, the Elder Scrolls game sets out with a fairly swift introduction - the scene of your execution - while you realize your true potential culminating in the absorption of a dragon's soul and becoming Dovahkiin, AKA Dragonborn. Yeah, pretty intense stuff eh? Anyway, you get to grips with your powers granted to thee by being 'the one' and carve a path through the land, learning the teachings from the fabled 'Greybeards' and leaving dozens of fallen dragon corpses in your wake as you hunt down the biggest and baddest of them all - Alduin. This monster has been resurrecting his fallen brothers to scour the world, in an attempt to destroy it completely. It's your job to find him and end him... Of course, there are several other story-lines to follow such as the thieves guild, the dark brotherhood and the companions - each could be likened to the length of another games campaign. Now with various DLC available, you can expand your world even farther and take on whole new journeys, not that you'd ever get everything done...
FUS RO DAH!!! (Gameplay)
Where the combat in Oblivion felt chinsy and Morrowind diabolically terrible, Skyrim goes leaps and bounds onto better things. Duel wielding spells, swords and shields or your pathetic enchanted wood elf bow - you can fight the way you want to, although someways are evidently better than others when taking on a mammoth, giant or almighty dragon. One would think it impossible to not sound nerdy after that but since finishing blows have been added to the roster, combat gets a new lick of paint and feels more modern and stylish. The conversations are held at a realistic distance compared to Oblivions' "Let's zoom in on a terrifying face, highlighting some poor graphics and generally being a nuisance" thing. The menus however are out of place and reek too much of previous Bethesda title Fallout. The 'Shouts' are a welcome addition to get you into the games storyline but also as unique spells that could not be utilised in older games. However, the lack of enchant abilities, compared to Morrowind is sad, but expected because this game is absolutely riddled with bugs - both insect and glitch. It's difficult to recall all the great little bits and bobs of what the game offers, so here's a quick shopping list of newish inclusions:
Smithing & Enchanting- Craft armor & weapons from specific materials and enchant them.
Lockpicking & Pickpocketing - the tumblers from IV have been hidden and so have your hands... into that Imperial scum's heavy pocket.
Alchemy - pluck wild flowers and combine them with the eye of a sabre cat tooth.
"I don't have anything to say to you... SO GET OUT OF MY FACE." (Surroundings)
Not many games can come close to TES series environments and Skyrim still raises the flag higher with stunning backdrops and a vast wilderness almost limitless and always ready to explore. One downside would be that like the 2 games before it, the various tombs and dungeons all have a similar appearance and thus, get repetitive. The fact that the game is set in the northern winter land of Skyrim is a fresh choice for the series as volcanic desolation and generic woodland have grown tiresome. The people of Skyrim are quite diverse, but tend to offer little other than the odd humorous remark - soon to be common phrase amongst every single character... Basically, the number of hours required to get your money's worth means you're going to hear the same dreadful one liners over and over, from blacksmiths to jarls. You're much better off traversing the wild, edging your way closer up the intimidating mountain, plundering a glacial tomb or facing mighty foes across a permafrost spekled tundra. The soundtrack is also worth mentioning because not only is it as hardy and powerful as the natives but avid gamers with recognize older themes arise in certain situations.
In the End...
A massive achievement in gaming, considering how far it has come but most especially, the fact that a single-player only game, has managed to scoop so many industry awards and please a thousand critics and millions of gamers over such a short time. With an Online game in the pipeline, it would seem that this could be the last of the great RPG's as companies try to pursue the majority, getting their hands on monthly payments. It's possible a 6th installment could see the light, but if this game's scale is any indication of waiting for an improvement? We may be waiting a very, very long time.
Summary: The Best Single Player game in a long time.