The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Review – The Dragonborn Oblivion Prophecy Relived

Mountains start off as terrain regions of rock that accumulate a wealth of life, habitat, and moreover weather for ages to come. Tamriel’s mountains share their wisdom with the Elder Scrolls written on paper that can never be altered, and these Aedric Prophecies in return speak of these lands that hold unknown origin and magic in their existence. The mountains age with the times, and they see the struggles that make them the immutable forces of power and vast exploration beyond archaic and even a message for future prosperity. Whether through Morrowind or Oblivion, the mountains along with the lands have stood a test of time in man’s struggle for history and chronology. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim brings back the beauty of Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and makes a world that is illustriously one of the most breathtaking environments ever created in 2011 for a video game. Through a profound development of customization, historical Elder archives of the Dragonborns, and a story to tell in all of its provincial lands, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim transports players into a medieval realm of Nordic refinement with the insatiable ceremoniousness of lands that are never forgotten and moreover so mysterious. Every abysm of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has adventure through limitless cultures brimming with the role of every person, whether it is by a grievous fire attack, a sharp but swift strike of the blade, or the devious subtlety in the stealth of a thief. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim opens a fairy tale in a video game title inspired by every Elder Scrolls title created, bringing back the last prophecy of one of the noble Elder Scrolls to life and effectively revealing to us the vast knowledge and truths revealed in the sacred pages of the Elder Scrolls themselves and the dragon language of the past.

Continuing from the Empire’s central province Cyrodiil, two hundred years come to pass and the dawn of the 4th Era begins, seeing the new age of the 201st year. The game sets open with a scene nearing a town, as the bold words of Skyrim adorn a simple road of an Imperial caravan with its prisoners. These prisoners essentially belong to the rebellion led by Ulfrid Stormcloak, the jarl of Windhelm that is accused of killing the high king of Skyrim in Soltitude and who is himself company to this morbid caravan. Among these prisoners is you, someone caught trying to cross the border into Skyrim. Conversations take place, and the dialogue is something Bethesda Softworks is ingenious with right from the inception of the storyline, giving players the gift of a game with as much depth in dialogue as storyline elements of plot and exposition aside in the rest of the game. Skyrim has been in utter civil unrest and disarray as the Nords essay to secede from the Empire while the rest of the province endures loyalty for the Empire. While everyone prepares for an execution in the town, and as you lay on the guillotine ready to hand over your head whilst smelling the newly carved blood of the previous rebel drying on the wooden engrains, a majestic dragon unleashes utter carnage on a town unwilling to burn but incapable of grasping the prophecy of the return of the Dragons. You soon escape and embark on a journey of discovery, exploration, customization, and the true gift in the nature of Akatosh’s blessing that leads to the Last Dragonborn.

The central identity of the player character is the most important aspect of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and comes in the form of 10 races to play: High Elves, Wood Elves, Orcs, Khajiit, Argonians, Bretons, Imperials, Nords, Redguards, or Dark Elves. Each race has its own defining characteristics that fit into not just appearance, but also special abilities. Khajiit can be sharp with their claws as felines while Elves are known for their magic prowess. Facial features can then be added on to each race from pre-built faces and bear to facial scars, war paints, or even eyeliner. Preset character face selections are definitely dated, but for Skyrim this is a very minute part of the game.  After the character selection is finished, players are familiarized with the combat and leveling gameplay design early on, within minutes of the game similar to The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. A minimal HUD display along with a given option to completely omit Heads Up Display altogether under the settings menu takes hold as Health and Stamina are the primary heads up display markers. Pressing B/Circle on Xbox 360/Playstation 3 respectively enables a dynamic quick-access menu. Pushing left spins the screen to magic, right to inventory, up to statistics, and down for map. Items are comprised in 3D and can be viewed now through the inventory as this, which also gives useful stats in red/green identifiers. After the protagonist equips armor and weapons, these can be used in combat. Combat is straightforward but involves essentially weapons and armor sets that range from cloth materials to even steel for Imperial branded weapons and goods for the three central roles of play style: Warrior, Wizard, and Thief. To add a combat/magic benefit for weapons, players can utilize Guardian Stones across Skyrim, bearing the mark of the three Guardians each representing these three styles of play. Ranged weapons and melee weapons are later crafted in more superior quality through the use of town forges, with special customizations to varying types of weapons through blunt weapons to bladed. Bows, shields, axes, maces, and two-handed great swords and axes perform a strong arsenal. Armor is now combined but also more varied in the offerings, which gives a strong benefit to iron and steel renderings that are so notable for medieval armor. The armor and weapons go a long way. Without them, you can surely expect to see yourself in front of chaotic dragons, evil giants, and even angry hibernating bears during combat and without defense.

Combat for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim are symbolized in unique ways, whether through quests or nonsensical killings in a town for notoriety, it comes wherever a player is. When attacked in combat with weapons at a critical point of their health, enemies face an execution which can be done in a similar slow-motion compared to Fallout 3. With such a scene of bloodshed for justice, weapons loadouts changed dramatically to include dual-wielding along with the placing of spells for wizards in each hand. The only one combat aspect which is terribly annoying is the lack of switching from weapons to magic and vice versa. Time and time again, wizards will see themselves running out of magicka, and switching to weapons with the menu screen is a climax breaker at times and can be disappointing, but the favorites menu does help in terms of connecting this quicker. Thankfully, Wizards and warriors have the extended benefit of having items that can further be enchanted that provide boosts such as more magicka regeneration, critical hits, making the enemy bleed, etc. to help in combat. Dragon Shouts are a part of combat that tie into the storyline, which is something we want to avoid detailing too much other than the fact that they are shouts that are gained by absorbing Dragon Souls, a combat reward that strengthens the player beyond anyone in Skyrim and possibly closer to the Dragonborn legacy. After enemies are naturally beaten, XP is gained for the 50-level leveling structure of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Each style is assigned their own constellation, paying homage to what is clearly the Nordic and Icelandic interpretation of the importance of stars as constellation depictions for future promises. Red indicates skills of the Warrior, blue as the skills of the Wizard, and lastly green for skills of the Thief. These gaming styles are dissevered into 6 skills each, effectively giving access to perk trees in addition to general skill customization, without the attribute points. These perks require the base skills to be at certain values, which the player can increase by focusing attacks utilizing certain aspects such as: Two-Handed, Destruction spells, Speech for Thief, and many more. Bethesda Softworks removes attribute points as well with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, though while not a hindrance in previous titles, serve more of a useful purpose better left out not integrated. Attribute points are essentially all types of skills which contribute to three main attributes: Magicka, Health, and Stamina, each of which represents the three styles of play of Warrior, Wizard, and Thief. These perks number more than 280 perks through styles such as Destruction, Archery, Speech, Sneak, etc. The numbers of choices are vast, and if anyone has never played a Bethsda Softworks title, they should know that certain skills affect certain parts of the game. Speech directly affects dialogue choices which are similar to Convince, Persuade, etc. options given in dialogue in places where someone with lower Speech abilities might not necessarily be able to be charming. The perks system and skills tree eliminates the discontinuity issues that were present in The Elder Scrolls IV classes system.  While some preferred having the level of classes along with races, and this certainly is more varied, the balance in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is specific.

Once all the identity is realized, and combat has been introduced, players are remitted into the most breath-taking open-world free roam experience of a lifetime through the most important feature of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Exploration. Loading screens are sadly long with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and do not seem to be worth the wait given the size of certain buildings/towns, but the reason for these constant load times remain unclear given what someone sees after the load. Despite this, the world carries on. The universe of Nirn has flourished a lot to offer through the adventures in Morrowind, and even onto Oblivion’s imperial workings. Exploration within The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim appears overwhelmingly resplendent in every direction and meaning of pulchritudinous. There are tundras, artic planes, and even rural countryside. You can see the towering mountains as you pass a riverbed; You can cut across the woods as birds fluster about the trees and the wind; You can look at the bright sky and see the level of cold in the mountain air or the deciduous forestry. Xbox 360 graphics do appear pixelated closer to objects, but not by a lot. PC users will be in for a real graphical experience with high resolution texture mods and naturally better graphical capabilities. The unraveling of the tales of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim reflects every Elder Scrolls title to date, being told in exclusive and new ways through context, books, or even the mere signs outside houses or landmarks. Throughout every town and even the vast wilderness, there are surprises in the enemy types and even the eerie relationship of the player to the land such as vampirism and more.  Every township is separated by this vast wilderness similar to The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and each town has its own economy that can be invested in for goods, weapons, horses or even properties. The people create this economy, and the core of the gameplay is quest interactions with kings, commoners, strangers of the roads, and the unknown beings of the lands. Radiant A.I. and Radiant Story are the two systems that the Gamebryo engine uses to create The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Radiant A.I. is describe by Bethesda Softworks to give every A.I. their own unique personality, which is seen throughout the game but the repetition in the lack of unique faces on the NPCs is rather quite annoying similar to Fallout 3. This does not disrupt the gameplay at all when it comes to the quest designs. Radiant Story alters quests in a unique way, giving reason to multiple variables or choices to specific quests in comparison to The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, which did not base it off of statistics of the player in his/her current stages. Because of this, the quests are more fluid and seem realistic given that it utilizes the variables of the protagonist.   NPC dialogue is extensive when quests are given and moreover detailed along with supplemental information carefully scattered across the world. Dialogue problems do exist, however, when NPCs talk over one another as is the case with most of Bethesda Softworks titles such as Fallout 3 and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Whatever reason it may be, whether technical or just bad coding, it does not harm gameplay aside from the points when a person gives out a quest and 4 people are talking over him. The quest journal helps to organize quests along with the map. This map can be used throughout travel, which features a mouse-like pointer across a landscape which is 3D and where the camera angle can be slightly shifted to outline quest markers and towns across the lands of the province. Throughout The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, no matter where you choose to go, there will always be unforgettable dialogue and numerous quests to partake in.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has been an intensely anticipated title with an exceptional wait time that has been realized fully through visuals, gameplay, dialogue, and quests. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim does have its problems in terms of dialogue technicalities, similar NPC faces, and irritatingly long loading times, but it offers a lot more than anything that is negative.  This is one title I had constantly been checking with Bethesda directly about since The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and when it was announced, it was perhaps one of the most appeasing days for me as a critic and a fan of the series but also the most worrisome in sympathy for Bethesda Softworks and Zenimax Studios. At this same time, one could not help but dwell over the level of effort it would take to not only match what The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion had to offer, but be creative, successful, and more thoughtful about what worked and what did not. Rest assured, through providing even more of a strong historical lore of the Elder Scrolls and a world that seems so lively in a video game box, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has effectuated what its predecessor did and ingeniously clutched with it a renewed sense of memories for previous titles of the series and brought them back to life. I only look forward to the day when The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim becomes a title about nostalgia, and we are looking ahead to what the Elder Scrolls have yet to prophesize next.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Review – How To Kill A Dragon

When it comes to Bethesda, the amount of new ground covered on each of their iterations of titles is staggering. For the Elder Scrolls series to have progressed from its relatively humble beginnings all the way through Morrowind, to Oblivion and now onto the vast Scandanavian-esque landscape that is Skyrim is simply unbelievable.

As your character awakens on the back of a cart, heading with an entourage of ominous looking soldiers, it is clear right from the start that trouble is afoot and the dialogue from your fellow captives help set the scene and it is as wonderful start as you would expect from a title of this magnitude. Things soon go awry and it is here, after a brief tutorial section, that the player is left to roam the land of Skyrim and is basically given absolute freedom to do whatever he/she likes.

The challenge in reviewing a game such as this is the amount of activities and quests that can be done at the behest of the player in any order they wish. Whether it be the main quest storyline or going on a giant hunting trip there is always something fun to distract you from anything previously that was being done and it is this magical feeling that you have to experience for yourself to understand what is meant and what makes this game great.

The main area of the game that is used nearly constantly is the combat which feels more fluid compared to previous games with the added fun of dual wielding, which supplements the feeling of roaming the lands with a sword in one hand and an axe in the other, wreaking havoc wherever you go and to whomever you see. The voice acting has been taken to a new level with even more variety and it feels as if the characters actually have a true personality rather than the slightly scripted lines that were uttered in Oblivion. The number of skills that can be upgraded and leveled are once again so vast that it can be daunting at first thinking about how much time will have to be dedicated to reaching the max level in these but realistically the game will absorb you into the world, and without realising it you will be a strong warrior capable of facing any foe. Skills range across 3 essentials: Thief, Magician, and Warrior, and it is up to the player to choose a right combination of skill classes. The graphics are simply beautiful especially if time is taken just to stand on a high point and marvel at the view, they are not photo realistic by any means but for a game of this size the graphics are extremely impressive.

With unlimited quests and numerous beasts to slay, this is a game that will keep you going for a long time. Even if there are a few problems that have to be noted, which is unfortunate, the title is near perfect. Firstly, the graphical glitches and glitches in general are appalling at times where sometimes large areas of the map will be lost in a haze of blue twitching lines or characters will get stuck in walls which are particularly frustrating especially when you have to kill them to complete a mission. Another problem is the enemy AI where you can be standing meters away from them crouched down and they will suddenly develop blindness and lose sight of the character – this is good in cases when you have to get away but it really removes the sense of realism and involvement in this world. The last problem is the amount and length of the loading times, which is non-existent on our PC copies but quite heavy on the 360/PS3 which can become very frustrating. These downsides are not game breaking by any means but it would be nice if they were not present.

Bethesda Game Studios has done what was not expected with the public hype leading up to the release of Skyrim and created an immersive game world that players can enjoy immensely. With the amount of other titles released this time of year it takes something special to keep the focus of a particular game but Skyrim does it with aplomb and the only sadness I feel is that we will likely not see another Elder Scrolls game for the next 4 or 5 years. In either case, we are all left only hoping.

I'm all about one thing: reviews that are easy to understand and make sense of.

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