Skyrim review: Goin’ dragon hunting 7

A game like Skyrim poses a serious question to how game reviewers do their job. In general, we follow a pretty rigid schedule; start game, play game, finish game, write about game. But what happens when a game never ends?  The answer in short – one of the best experiences I’ve ever had with a video game.

From its gripping opening scene, to the adventures your quests will bring you, all the way to the game’s climactic finale, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is unlike any other game you’ve played before. Its level of depth, dedication to storytelling and details both big and small combine to make one hell of a package.  Say goodbye to the sun, Skyrim is here and it’s about to rule your life.

Skyrim is less of a sequel to 2006’s Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, as much as it’s a new chapter in an ever expanding book. Set 200 years after the events of the last game, tensions are high in Skyrim as civil war rages along the countryside. The game opens with your as-of-yet-unnamed character being sent to be beheaded, but then the dragon shows up. Long thought to be extinct, the slithering beast begins wrecking havoc on the town, prompting your escape. It’s here that you really start to get a feel for Skyrim, and where your quest actually starts.

It’s here, where you create your character, and here that you’ll get your first look at the depth that Skyrim packs. The character creation tool is an impressive one, giving you the freedom to choose everything from your appearance (you can get incredibly in-depth if you want to) to your race and characteristics.  You can of course, change the majority of these throughout your journey, but a few of your choices do stay with you from the beginning.

The depth of Skyrim’s character creator assures for a wide variety of characters between separate games. I myself created a battle-worn, older grunt type character, complete with war paint, hobo bears and scars who specialized in heavy weaponry and elemental energies. To me, it’s what gives me the best chance in any given fight throughout Skyrim. Of course, this is an Elder Scrolls game and the choices you make, combined with the way your game plays out with have a direct impact on your style.

Like any Elder Scrolls game, Skyrim is a game that believes that getting there is half the fun. Sure, you could escape the village where you nearly lost your life and go right on with the main quest, but you’ll be missing a good portion of what makes Skyrim such a remarkable feat. Instead, go somewhere – anywhere. Wander through the game’s vast fields and gigantic mountain ranges, see what the world Bethesda has so lovingly created has to offer you. Pick the plants, talk with the locales, find some bandit hideouts.

There’s truly so much to do within Skyrim that it’s likely you won’t take on an actual quest for quite some time.  I strongly believe that one of the most impressive moments in any open world adventure is the first time you’re given a real look at just what goes in within the game’s world, and that’s a feeling that happened countless times as I found new areas of Skyrim. What’s most impressive about the world of Skyrim is just how detailed everything really is.

There’s a strict set of rules that govern the world of Skyrim, that makes the game’s ecology work. My first few moments being let loose in Skyrim, I found, stalked and hunted a moose and it made me feel incredibly powerful. As I kept traveling, I came across other animals, like bears and wild boars, and while these fights tested my unproven warrior, it made me level up faster and become comfortable to take on the game’s main attraction, the dragons. When you do eventually defeat a dragon and stand over the beast’s defeated body, it’s extremely rewarding and feels like nothing else in gaming. Just don’t get too ahead of yourself like I did and think “I took down a Dragon, a mammoth should be no problem!” Just a word of advice, the majority of the game’s mammoth population is controlled by Skyrim’s race of giants – and you don’t want to mess with them.

As of this writing, I’m more than sixty hours into Skyrim, and I still don’t feel like I’ve even scratched the surface of just what the game is and what it can do. Now, to be fair, that’s because I have been doing so much wandering and not paying a whole lot of attention to the actual events of Skyrim, but that’s still a testament to just how impressively immersive the game is.  The game’s impressive visuals serve as a testament to this – in most cases.  The sweeping vistas and lush scenery is impressive, but close-up, especially on consoles, the textures can became blurry and create some pretty strikingly ugly scenes. For the best results, play on PC with an Xbox 360 controller. Seriously, don’t laugh, give it a try.

I wonder if he's friendly...

The Blast Factor: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim continues a long standing tradition of excellence for Bethesda’s role playing series. Though it retains the depth and strategic elements of the previous games, it’s also the series most accessible title, making it a great jumping on point for fans new to the series. With all of its exploration and content, you’re going to be playing Skyrim for a long time, but that’s okay, you didn’t like sunlight anyways did you?