Sunday, 28 July 2013

Game Review: Skyrim

A year or so ago I saw a trailer like this on the television and I turned to my wife and said;

I have got to play this game dude...

I have played a lot of shooting games like Call of Duty Modern warfare and Black ops as well as other games like The Sims 3 and was thinking about a change and this trailer caught my eye.

I hadn't played a role play game like this in a really long time, since Daemon's gate on the PC and that was more of a strategy rather than a one player game.

As I loaded the game I began to get excited as the black cleared to reveal three other NPCs in a cart, one is gagged, the other is a soldier and the fourth a Horse thief. As we're taken to Helgen for execution and our heads put on the block when a dragon descends and torches the city and you have to flee for your life.

Character generation can be lengthy but as it is your character for the rest of the game it is indeed worth it.
You can skip through with a cursory "yep" and a click if you're not bothered how you look or size etc but race is very important as each has its own bonuses and draw backs. My first character was the embodiment of an old Dangeons and Dragons character I used to play as - Uglύk the half Orc barbarian - now a fully fledged Orc warrior who is now level 50 and fairly unstoppable in most fights smashing through bandits and Drauger with relative ease. My current character is based on one of my other favourite Lord of the Rings characters, the Wood Elf Haldir of Lothlorien, who is now at level 4 and who got eaten by a bear lastnight...

The game itself is ultimatly fairly sandbox and although there is a story mission you are relatively free to wander the huge area that is Skyrim and make your own adventure. Indeed as Uglύk I have only done one Legion mission and only completed Part 1 of the main story missions but have completed the thieves guild, become thane of most of the holds and chief Wizard at the College of Winterhold.

I find this the most enjoyable part of the game. Skyrim has a vast sprawling landscape of mountains, grassy valleys, icy tundra and swampy estuaries. The whole landscape is peppered with caves, creepy castles, bandit camps, huts and mines. Each is crawling with bandits, enemy factions, undead, necromancers, wild beasts and Vampires and flying high above you are Dragons...

The graphics are really good and quite entrancing at first. I wasted many hours riding from place to place just because I enjoyed the landscape and for the random encounters. Once you have been to a place however there is always Fast travel between them which will move you, your horse and any companions to that location. It can be quite helpful if you, like me, regularly lose their horse and can't remember where it is parked.

Aela the huntress
The missions themselves are pretty good with a variety of sneaking, cunning and downright bloody fighting - it is totally up to you.

With every skill used you gain experience and with every level we gain a perk point which can be allocated to a skill tree giving you bonuses. For example as you assign points to Archery you can unlock the overdraw (which does more damage), Eagle eye (which allows you to zoom in) and Hunter's discipline (which allows you to recover more arrows from a fallen foe). So whatever you want to be your key skills can be maxed out. This is why Uglύk is such an awesome two handed weapon wielding heavy armour wearing killer blacksmith with secondary sneak and bow skills.

There is scope to get married and with the add ons you can even build a house (rather than buy) and adopt children for the full total immersion. This game does suck you in and you find yourself totally immersed and losing time just by running around or going to the next town to sell your plunder or buy the latest gear.

The draw backs are that the game has quite a few bugs. Some missions get stuck and you need to reload from quite a time before. I did one dungeon and found on trying to exit that a door had slammed shut and wouldn't let me open it. I've also been unable to complete certain quests even though I have done so and they show up repeatedly in my "To do list". I am also barred from buying the house in Markarth as I completed two quests at the same time and missed the dialogue with the steward which is most vexatious.

The loading screens can be quite tiring as well and can take a loooooonnnnnnnnggggg time to load between going between sections of dungeon, out of a building or into a city irrespective of the size of the location you are entering. This can be quite annoying if you are playing to a time limit or running around a city. I once ran spent as much time on loading screens as I did actually running around!

If you like fantasy or role play games, freedom to explore and do what you want without the oppressive "Story" hanging over your head and pulling you back then this is definitely the game for you. Easily ***** despite the bugs!


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