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I have Skyrim… or is it the other way round?

October 11, 2012

Well once again I’ve failed to keep up with my blogging… I could make up an excuse of course – perhaps I’ve taken an arrow to the knee, or been Fus Ro Dah’d (or however its spelt). The truth is – I have gotten Skyrim… or rather Skyrim has gotten me. Here comes the review…


As a fan of RPG’s since I first picked up the SNES controller and battled through Zelda: A Link to the Past, I was excited to get my hands on the 5th entry into the Elder Scrolls series – the first that I have played.

My wood elf dude.

From the outset I’ve loved it – unfortunately my wood elf character didn’t end up looking quite as cool as he could’ve done, but I was chomping at the bit to get on with it, so character creation was a fairly quick affair, and besides, its not like there’s a lot of looking at his face either way.

After nearly having my head cut off, and the brief built in tutorial (all too brief) I was on my way. Being a virgin to Elder Scrolls meant I wanted to follow the dude that had helped me get away from that Dragon all the way home, so I did. And then I realised how huge, how flexible and how utterly bewildering I was going to find Skyrim – at first, the sheer size of the map worried me, and the lack of clear definition as to what I should be doing next made me wonder if this was the type of game for me after all.

I had previously owned Fallout 3, and after sort of enjoying it for a while – grabbing hold of story strands and clinging on for dear life in case I should get side-tracked – I eventually gave up on it… my character, a would be goody two shoes, ACCIDENTALLY killed someone in plain sight of some other NPC’s (that is to say, I planned to kill them, but that other guy should have just stayed asleep and we could’ve all carried on our lives as normal) and unfortunately my wish to keep my save files nice and tidy, my idiocy to not think ahead, and an unfortunate autosave/save corruption happening all at once meant I could not clean my virtually bloodstained hands by simply reloading a previous save – perhaps a lesson that we should all take heed of kids – in real life, some things can never be undone!

Anyway, I simply couldn’t be bothered to carry on; after being a saint, saving lives, whole townships, I was – after one act of witnessed criminality (fair enough, murder) – deemed an outcast. Anyway, I gave it up then, I’d had enough.

I became quickly worried that Skyrim could end up going the same way… thankfully, so far so good, and I’ve got to say, its one of the most in-depth, compelling and “just one more dungeon” inducing games I’ve ever played.

That said, the number of quests currently in my log of things to do is a little bit ridiculous, and I’ve already forgotten who has assigned most of them. The important thing of course is that those that I am enjoying I understand and keep track off, but if I had one criticism its that there’s almost too much thrown at you all at once – I literally don’t know how people keep track of it all.

The only other tiny little issue I have with it is the whole crafting thing… I understand a lot of people want to do that sort of crap in a game, but to me, playing a game like this should be about doing exciting things – slaying dragons, performing magic, silently wiping out whole enemy strongholds – not repeatedly making  weapons and armour for hours on end so you can raise a skill to give you the best goodies in the game – its just not for me – for one thing I don’t have that sort of time to waste. Unfortunately that limits my character to using all the bits and pieces that I pick up along the way instead – which apparently aren’t as good as the ones you can make. Never mind.

These niggles aside, the game has provided a great level of flexibility, and the sheer size of the game world has gone from a daunting prospect to an interesting and varied challenge. From bears jumping out of abandoned houses, to the occasional Dragon popping up and trying to incinerate you, it really feels like a world that you’d have trouble surviving in for too long, which helps make the sheer distances you have to travel all the more interesting. I do wish that the Dragon’s would just land a lot of the time so I could cut their heads off and get on with it… desperately shooting arrow after arrow at them in the hope they’ll notice you and “have a go” does get a bit tiresome.

I still feel that I’m barely into the storyline yet – I’ve taken a long break from what I’d consider the main plot and gone off to become a thief, assassin and various other guises (did someone say werewolf!?) in the factions and guilds you can join. In between times, plenty of people have asked me to clear out this bandit camp or go and collect this particular ingredient and I’ve got a list as long as my bowstring of incomplete miscellaneous tasks… I’ll get to them all in the end I’m sure (?)

I’m playing on whatever the standard difficulty is (adept maybe?) and have found it about right in terms of the challenge. My guy’s only at level 24 so still not too far into it, but already is becoming something of an expert in sneaking about, stabbing people through the back and then sneaking off again afterwards.
Or sneaking about, shooting them from a distance, then waiting for their buddies to go take a look at why Jimbob has taken a lie down with an arrow through his throat, only to then assist them in joining him in said lie down. Either way, its nice to feel superior to a bunch of programmed pixels, and the learning curve and skill levelling system has been rewarding, and not over the top.

Anyway, I’m sure I will continue to play for a long time to come. I do love it when you know will see you through until the next big release – no matter when that will be.

So far, I’m giving Skyrim a nice juicy 9 out of 10.

Teachers comment would read: Inspired creativity, a compelling, intriguing and epic piece… just please don’t let the lines between reality and fantasy blur, for all our sakes.

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