Half-Ass Gaming: Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Video Review


Elder Scrolls… that is all. Just kidding… it’s been a very long time since Oblivion has come out. It was the pioneer game for Bethesda to continue creating open world RPG’s. Without it we would not have the beloved Fallout 3 or the newest entry in the Elder Scrolls saga… Skyrim. One of the questions that now dance on our tongues is, “Can Skyrim improve over a system we’ve grown familiar with over the years?” Is this the next step in the evolution of the RPG, or a large scale version of Oblivion?

Skyrim is very much like any Elder Scrolls or Fallout game. Story is important through all aspects of the series. The main story focuses on the chase of an evil Dragon, but the side-stories all have their own individual avenues of interest. There is an exhausting amount of story content here, and it would be impossible for me go through it all. That and I wouldn’t DARE spoil any of it, as this massive world just begs to be explored. If you’re looking for an RPG full of story content, you need not look any further.

The graphics are a major step up from Oblivion and even Fallout. Like many games that have come out, improved lighting makes a world of a difference. Skyrim tips the scales a bit more with high resolution textures on buildings, character models, and dynamic weather effects. It also holds nothing back in the sense of scale, as the entire world is wonderfully crafted and full of many marvels. Skyrim is an architectural phenomenon, from cities nestled in the mountains, to the Dragons that soar through the skies.

You’ll need the entire scope of the map for the pure amount of gameplay ahead of you. When Bethesda spoke of 200 hundred hours of gameplay, they were not just spitting out babble at players. It’s easy to not even visit 15% of the locales in the first 40 hours of the game. Hell, the main storyline will take on a backseat for most players in the first 20 hours of gameplay. The sheer amount of quests available in each town is enough to make a person forget about their real life.

Players will deal with selling items to vendors, clashing swords with werewolf hunters, becoming friends with thieves and so much more. Even the crafting options will keep players occupied for exhaustive periods of time. Gain a wife and many homes, become a werewolf and stalk the weak, invest in shops to become a business mogul. It’s up to you how you spend your time in Skyrim, and that’s not even counting the vast open areas players can just discover on a whim.

Fighting Dragons is something that really makes this game great. These large ancient creatures can appear at any time and any place. It’s hard to not notice their trademark roar, or the sound of their large wings flapping overhead. The way that Dragons react to the world is amazing, sometimes they’ll go head to head with the player. At other junctures they’ll take on denizens of the world, or just take a tour of the area before flying off to who knows where.

Now… even though the content is something to be amazed by. If you’re not a fan of the Elder Scrolls fighting system, be prepared to be thrown off by the combat here. Its official, nothing has changed for the better with the system. The same stiff swinging animations in the 3rd person view, and a few new execution kills doesn’t brighten the doorstep of the battle system. I won’t say it’s a deal breaker, but it won’t wow anyone either.

Even shooting a bow or blasting off at people with magic is a bit slow for my taste. Let me stop myself right there and come right out with it. Skyrim is really just Oblivion at a much larger scale, and by that I mean the land is bigger and there are more quests. All in all though, you won’t see much change from what you did in Oblivion or Fallout for that matter. It’s the sheer amount of content, graphics upgrade, and skill changes that escalate it from being a glorified expansion pack.

Skills are still leveled up from being used by the player. It’s what you gain at certain skill levels that make or break the skill itself. Let me explain: If a player gains a new level they will receive a perk point. They can then use this point to place it into the appropriate skill slot. Yet, these perk points can only be placed into a perk of the appropriate skill number.

So if sneak is at level 20 when you receive a point, you can then put it into that first skill. After that, the player will have the option to build the first skill or wait for higher skill levels to upgrade. It’s a fascinating system that forces the player to choose what they really want to focus on for 100 levels.

My personal gripe with this system is how it affects some of the skills in the set. Mostly, my favorite skill in almost all RPG’s of this type… speech. This skill is leveled up from selling or buying from merchants, or if you can find one of the smooth talking trainers per level. Otherwise, you’re going to have a hard time trying to lock this one down. It’s also the same for pickpocketing, since getting caught can land you a hearty bounty or a day in jail where you can lose skill points.

Now is Elder Scrolls the RPG from the heavens? Nah… but it’s a great game that will engross players the same way Oblivion did. Sure it’s full of all of the trademark bugs that Bethesda is known for, but it has a wealthy amount of content that just cannot be ignored. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, receives an A from Half-Ass Gaming, this is without a doubt how a single-player game should be. It may not be the greatest of them all, but it holds up the title of Dragonborn!


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