Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - PC
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506 of 548 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2011
So I'm wandering down a valley feeling pretty good about myself. I've just single-handedly wiped out a horde of monsters in a dungeon and walked off with a shiny pile of loot when I see an ugly giant sauntering along up ahead. Like any brave and noble adventurer I decide to behead him and loot his corpse. Big mistake! This guy is way more than I can handle. I've used most of my potions in the dungeon and this guy hits hard. My health is almost gone and my thoughts start to drift towards my last save when out of nowhere a dragon swoops in and scoops him up! My savior! I make a mad dash out of there and start healing with the shred of magicka I have left, hoping to make good my escape. Not so lucky I'm afraid, the dragon finishes off the giant and drops me like a sack of potatoes. Oh well, next time I'll know better, or will I?

This is the kind of random activity you'll see all over the world of Skyrim. Exciting, unscripted events unfold everywhere you turn. You can run to the same spot from the same save and it will be different every time. The world is vast and it is very much alive.

This is an Elder Scrolls game through and through. All our favorite activities are back, from brewing potions to smithing armor. Some of the familiar aspects have been streamlined however. Gone are attributes (STR, AGL etc.) and to be honest I didn't miss them. Agonizing over character creation is a thing of the past, you pick your race (each has their own bonus) and off you go. You develop your character by playing the way you want, not by conforming to a specific class. Want to be a sneaky thief who happens to wield a two-handed battle axe? Do it! Want to be a heavy armor wearing, club wielding brute who can also chuck fireballs with the finest mages in the land? Yup, that's doable too! You get good at what you like doing the most and you'll never have to worry much about an incorrect spec. It all works! The new two-hand system is great as well. You can cast spells with one hand while swinging a weapon with the other! Or you can combine spells with both hands, the level of customization in terms of gameplay is staggering.

One of the biggest departures of past titles is the overall feel of the game. Where Morrowind and Oblivion, while being serious, had a somewhat whimsical feel to them, Skyrim is dark and gritty. Random dragon attacks, poverty and the strife of civil war grip the land with an iron fist and misery and paranoia infest it's citizens. Skyrim is not a happy place. After you witness the opening scene you will realize: this is a game for grown ups.

The graphics are great, not cutting edge (can you console companies please upgrade so developers can make games geared towards equipment that's younger than six years old please?!) but the world, animations and spell effects all look really good. I can max the game out on my mid-range system so you won't need a supercomputer to enjoy it to it's fullest. The audio on the other hand is absolutely stunning.

My complaints are minor but I do have a few. The menus suffer from a bad case of consolitis, they are obviously designed to be used with a controller. Mouse and keyboard users will find they have to scroll through long lists of spells and items unnecessarily, it's really quite cumbersome. Not a big deal really, just a minor annoyance when you know how much easier it could be. There's a bug here and there, collision detection issues and things like that but you kinda have to expect those things in a game as massive as this. I've yet to encounter anything game breaking though. The game requires Steam activation which I don't care for at all. I'm not down on those who do, I understand it's appeal, it's just not for me (yet I'm required to use it! -1 star).

This game will suck you in and keep you there! If you have some vacation or sick time you'll start to entertain the idea of cashing them in for more playing time. Your family will miss you and your caffeine tolerance will get a big boost after a few days in the world of Skyrim. You don't just play in that world, you live in it.
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97 of 111 people found the following review helpful
on April 6, 2012
Skyrim is the fifth game in The Elder Scrolls series, following on from Arena, Daggerfall, Morrowind and Oblivion. As usual with this series, the game contains only minor continuity references to the previous titles and can be enjoyed on its own. As normal, you get to create a character, choosing their stats, background, gender and race, before being unleashed into the wilds of the Imperial Province of Skyrim. You can follow the main storyline, pursue side-quests or simply strike off into the wilderness to kill some wolves. If you're really into role-playing you can even go off and split some logs or pursue a career as a blacksmith. The game is an immense toybox and it's up to you how you play it.

Those who've played Bethesda RPGs before, particularly the recent era beginning with Oblivion and continuing through the SF Fallout 3 and New Vegas games, will find much here that is familiar. The ageing Gamebryo Engine has been given an overhaul and renamed the Creation Engine, but it's the same old technology propelling the title along (particularly noticeable with the still-clunky movement and jumping). The upgrades are impressive, with much-improved graphics (particularly in the departments of wind and snow effects) and character animation. The stiff, robotic figures of the previous Bethesda games are thankfully gone and people are now less off-putting to interact with. Bethesda have also provided a full voice cast for the game, which is a relief after Oblivion's tiny pool of voice actors resulted in some serious immersion-breaking moments. In Skyrim this is limited to a few of the various city guards, who have the same voice and even the same dialogue (the oft-repeated, "Arrow to the knee," complaint) no matter where they are, which is more amusing than problematic.

The game has also had a major overhaul to its rules system. Oblivion's level-scaling mechanic (where the whole world levels up with you) has been chucked, thankfully, and the skill system has now been made sane (in Oblivion it was a valid tactic to choose a mage class and then increase your opposing sword skills, so you wouldn't level up and make the entire world tougher). Bethesda have chucked out the class system altogether, so now you can tailor your character precisely. If you want to play a magic-fuelled archer of death, you can do that, as well as a rapid-casting pyromaniac or a sword-slinging barbarian who's also handy with a lockpick. The result is a 'streamlined' system which is actually just that, streamlined and made more logical without sacrificing depth or complexity. The perk system, where you gain impressive skills and powers in return for levelling up skills, also works well in the game.

Combat is mostly unchanged from Oblivion, particularly in the sword-swinging side of things. Whilst combat remains chunky and satisfyingly physical, it's still a button-mashing affair, disappointing in an RPG. Some sort of fantasy implementation of the VATS system from the Fallout games could have been a really good idea, but Bethesda chose not to do that. However, Skyrim permits dual-wielding, or dual-spellcasting, or using one hand to cast a spell and another to use a sword, which adds a greater tactical nuance to the game. There are also now animated sequences for impressive creature deaths, which is nice but only of cosmetic value. More interesting are Shouts, super-powered spells that you have access to as a Dragonborn. These can blow people off the side of mountains, fill a subterranean corridor with fire or carry you through the air in a mini-whirlwind. They're pretty cool and tie in directly with the game's other big change: dragons!

At first glance the dragons of Skyrim merely replace the Oblivion Gates of Oblivion: a hazard that can show up at any time in the wilderness and cause mayhem, often when you're simply trying to get from Point A to Point B hassle-free. However, the dragons are (normally) visible from miles away, so it's much easier to avoid them. Dealing with the Gates was also a major pain, as you had to fight your way through a mini-dungeon and steal an orb for each Gate to shut them down. With the dragons you just have to kill them, which is surprisingly straightforward (dragons can be dealt with relatively easily from about Level 8 or 9 onwards, maybe even lower if you trick the dragon into attacking a settlement or bunch of tough monsters, like giants). Every time you kill a dragon you open a slot for a new Shout power, which is filled by visiting major dungeons and searching them for magical symbols. It's an elegant process which ties the game's primary enemies, the myriad tons of dungeons in the game and a cool new magic system together into an impressive whole.

The game has the standard Bethesda set-up of having a major storyline quest, a number of important subquests and a bajillion side-quests. The major storyline is relatively entertaining (Skyrim's dragons are pretty cool and getting to talk to them and then kill them is enjoyable), certainly moreso than Oblivion's, but Bethesda's biggest problem of poor writing remains in place. Dialogue is po-faced and characterisation of the major NPCs is limited at best. Some of the major subquests, such as the Guild storylines, are also a lot of fun. The side-quests are variable, running from straightforward fetch quests to quite major episodes in themselves taking hours to complete. Many of the quests involve dungeons, and compared to Oblivion's small caves the dungeons in Skyrim are stunning, often spanning multiple levels and varying art styles (Skyrim contains lots of fortresses belonging to the long-vanished but technologically advanced Dwemer, so there's a brilliant genre cross-slide into steampunk in the game as well). They're impressive but also disappointingly linear with the game often holding you by the hand as you make your way through them lest you get lost, despite the fact that getting lost is half the fun of a good dungeon-delve.

The game scores big on atmosphere, as well. Trekking through an alpine forest with the snow streaming down and something growling nearby in the fog is suitably disconcerting, especially when the cloud breaks, revealing the northern lights in all their glory (and an ice troll charging at you). The environment is depicted superbly throughout, aided by an excellent musical soundtrack.

Where Skyrim falls down is the typical Bethesda problem of providing an immense world packed with things to do, but no real emotional reason to do them. The world is stunning, but populated by thinly-drawn characters who lack motivation or depth (though this is still better than Oblivion's world of disconcerting mannequins), and provide you with no real reason to help them beyond financial rewards or greater power. You can spend almost the whole game with a companion, but beyond swapping items with them, you can't talk to them about anything of interest, leaving them as little more than an an extra inventory and sword-arm. The 'civilised' parts of the game are among the most disappointing due to the lack of good writing and the resulting lack of emotional investment in the people you meet. The game even fails to have major NPCs recognise changes in the game's storyline: after completing the main quest with all its world-altering conclusion, it's astonishing how few people take notice of the fact.

However, the game is at its best when you are stuck on the side of a mountain exchanging spells with a dragon, or exploring a vast subterranean city whilst battling ancient steam-powered robots from before the dawn of recorded time. Or to put it another way, it's at its best when it puts you in charge of it and deciding what you want to do with it rather than following the developers' choices. On that level, Bethesda succeed more completely than with any of their previous games to date.

Skyrim (****) is rich in atmosphere and represents a significant improvement over Oblivion on almost every level. However, Bethesda's poor writing, dialogue and characterisation continues to hold The Elder Scrolls series back from fulfilling its true potential. The game is engrossing and interesting whilst it's you against the wilderness, but becomes flat and dull when you enter more civilised area. Still, it's a stunning technical achievement with some fabulous artwork and design. The game is available now on the PC (UK, USA), X-Box 360 (UK, USA) and PlayStation 3 (UK, USA). The PC version has some highly impressive mods for it, not to mention comprehensive content-creation tools, to the point where the PC version of the game gets an extra half star from me.
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236 of 293 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon November 11, 2011
The ELDER SCROLLS series has given us a number of masterpieces over the years. Morrowind will always remain etched on my brain whereas Oblivion has offered a vast world I found myself immersed into for hours at no end. Following up on footsteps of such giants is never easy. And yet the 5th installment of the series, SKYRIM, still managed to impress and ensnare me.

For SKYRIM, Bethesda will only take up 6GB on your HDD and with that the game designers created a literally endless world, with extremely long drawing distances, high mountains, passing clouds, dark forests, foliage moving to the wind and water trickling in streams. Everything you see in the horizon is actually accessible. Now, compare that to the ...21GB Rage takes up for a much, much more small and visually limited world to realize what was accomplished with SKYRIM. The world is absolutely huge - and it feels real.
The graphics are gorgeous, almost realistic. Sure, I could do with somewhat more detailed textures when it comes to clothing (they look much better in the inventory than when worn) as well as a more bold color palette (besides grasses, there are also colorful wildflowers, Bethesda); however, the imaginative design of the items and equipment, the natural movements of the characters and the way light and shadows play with each other all the time more than make up for these shortcomings. The game is as beautiful as it is deep and endless.

Each hand has its own menu. You can go with sword and shield or spell and weapon, dual weapons or dual spells (yes, spells can be combined - and the spell effects are very impressive, especially the frost and thermal ones!). Ana always keep in mind: some Words have power beyond any comprehension.
The camera is very accommodating and both First-Person and Third-Person views are available. It will take some time before you settle into your own fighting style but once that is done the game mechanics will feel like second nature to you. Yes, the finishing moves reminded me of Fallout 3 however, it would not be fair to claim that SKYRIM is the mere cross between FALLOUT 3 and OBLIVION.
SKYRIM was much anticipated and its gameplay does not disappoint in any way.

This is true to all living things and it also true in SKYRIM. In the beginning of the game you only get to choose what your hero looks like. How you then play the game will determine what class and what abilities your hero will acquire.
The skills you use the most are the ones you are actually getting better at. You can also increase your skills by skill training and reading a skill book. Leveling up heals your hero (health and magicka) and you can unlock a skill perk and increase one attribute reserve (health, stamina or magicka) by 10 points. Both the enemies you encounter and the loot you find level up with you, however there are areas designed to be almost impossible to lower level heroes. A word of advice: until you are powerful enough, avoid going up into the mountains. I had to learn this the hard way!
There are Achievement you earn but this is what I found beautiful: as you progress the game creates constellations corresponding to your skills and perks and, so, you can see your character make its mark, well, in the sky of SKYRIM.

I usually do not pay attention to the sounds of a game. The less I notice them, the more natural they usually are. In SKYRIM both the ambient and action sounds are so well made that they stand out at first. After a while you take them form granted and blend into the background - yet they keep adding greatly to the total immersion. Draw a sword, deflect an arrow with your shield or walk in a narrow corridor and you will see what I mean.
Moreover, the background music, whenever cued, is also epic and majestic, like a medieval liturgy choir chanting about your deeds. One name should describe its impact: Jeremy Soule.
The towns are alive with people going about their daily chores; however, I have to admit that I found The Witcher II to be much better in this aspect. Nevertheless, paying attention to what NPCs have to say has its own rewards. Not only can you get lore and valuable information and even quests but you can even gain skill improvements out of this. Care has been taken to create a great number of NPC phrases in order to avoid having to endure the same phrase repeated over and over. Well, although not very pronounced, after some hours of gameplay this has not been avoided entirely. A minor annoyance. I can understand how town talk is much harder to run through the Creation Engine than items and quests.

Recently we have all seen how bad a Digital Distribution system can be ([coughs!] ORIGIN!) so STEAM may seem pretty benign to some by now. Nevertheless, let's not loose perspective. This is still an OnLine DRM scheme. I usually deduct a full star from any game that withholds ownership of our games by tying it to a unique online account. So far I had made a single exception, with Shogun II. I decided SKYRIM to be the second.
I still have to warn the gamers who are careful what DRM schemes they will allow to their computers since the game does require STEAM to run (yes, even the retail version). An informed decision can now be made. However, I could not bring myself to give this masterpiece anything less than a perfect score.

SKYRIM is a game that will draw you in its world, enchant you with its beauty, mesmerize you with its endless horizons, offer you a huge number of ever branching quests and, yet, leave you wanting for more. Each time you play it is unique and the paths not taken will keep bringing you back again and again. Even if they are uphill and narrow.


(*) Ended relationships not included. May induce expulsion to couch for an indefinite period of time. Real gamers do not use skooma.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on November 9, 2012
I am 64 years old, and used to love RPG's back in the day. I haven't played any for years although I liked Daggerfall, Phantasy Star, Ultima 7, even Pool of Radiance way when they were new. Anyway, I thought I'd try Skyrim.

Reading the reviews, I was a little intimidated. What's this Steam stuff? I never heard of Steam. What about the long download time everybody is talking about?

I opened a Steam account and installed Steam the night before Skyrim was delivered, by just going to the steam website. [...] . Easy. I didn't have to give Steam much of any info about me, other than an email address. No credit card, no real name, the usual consents, and so on. Verdict: Steam is not all that bad so far.

When I received the software I followed the simple directions, which were: Insert disk, run setup, follow directions. That is really all that I needed to do. Download time for the game on a Friday at 3:30 PM was 11 minutes, and download time for the patch was 1 more minute. Then, Steam wanted to upgrade my Active X and such (on a one year old high end Dell laptop with Windows 7, gee...), and that took another 5-6 minutes or so. So, I was playing within less than 20 minutes after opening the box. Can't get much easier than that.

An 11 minute game installation? What a surprise! Bear in mind that I live in New Orleans, not out in the country, but my Cox Cable connection is nothing special and just the usual cable connection. So, if you live in a metropolitan area and have high speed internet, and if your computer meets the game requirements I'd say you will be fine.

Speaking of which, the package says minimum system requirements are:
Operating system: XP, Vista, Windows 7
Processor: Dual Core 2.0 GHz
Memory: 2GB RAM, 7GB free hard drive space
Video Card: Direct-X 9.0c Compliant video card with 512 MB of RAM
It also says increased performance will be noticed on more powerful systems.

It will take me a while to get used to the assigned keys for various movements and actions, and the camera angles of modern video games, but so far, so good. After just an hour of game play I don't feel completely confident yet of being able to handle combat very competently or avoid it, but I'm sure that will come in a day or two.

Don't start playing until you have an hour or so of free time, at least, because you will start as a prisoner about to be executed, just before a battle with a dragon begins. Talk about stress. :) I managed to get away from the dragon and those who wanted to kill me, and learned to equip weapons and armor, got to a safe place at the guy's uncle's house, and talked to him. Then just before I was headed out again to explore, the game crashed. I am not expecting this to be a major problem because I had been playing quite some time by then and these things happen. If it turns out that the game repeatedly crashes, I'll edit this review later on.

All in all, I am pleased. Obviously I haven't gone very far in this game yet, but I am looking forward to more game play. I just wanted to encourage any other older players that might be feeling a little intimidated, to give the game a try.
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46 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 2011
I loved Morrowind. I loved Oblivion even more. I wanted to love Skyrim, but at this point I think "like" is the best I can do. Don't get me wrong, it's a good game that continues in the same vein as the previous titles. But other than some slight graphic enhancements, there really isn't anything much that's new here. And in speaking about the graphics, yes there might be a bit more detail here than in oblivion.....but Oblivion was a much "prettier" world to explore. I think my biggest complaint about the game is the setting, which is too bland - it's all grey and bleak and snow-covered. In Oblivion there was more variety of landscape and it was visually pleasing to just wander around. Not so much in Skyrim.

A second gripe about the game is the interface. The whole thing "feels" like a console game rather than a pc game. While I do like having the option of being able to use a 360 controller to walk around and fight, I'd rather have the GUI be more pc-like.

But my biggest gripe about the game? In a word, steam. I have no problem with having to initiate an internet connection to enter a serial code and register a game. But I definitely DO have a problem with having to have a live internet connection every time I play a SINGLE-player game. I also do not like to have updates forced down my throat....updates should be optional, not mandatory. Yes, I know that once you have a game installed and working, you can go into the steam client and tell it to not automatically update a game. But when you first install the game you have no such option. After installing from DVD, it immediately began downloading an update, which caused me to have to sit around and twiddle my thumbs for half an hour.

A call to all developers/publishers.....please forget about this steam nonsense. I WANT to buy new games, but I'm so fed up with how steam negatively affects the gaming experience that from now on I am going to refuse to purchase any games that require it.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2011
Overall, this is an excellent and well-made game that I would recommend to any fan of RPGs.

Instead of a long, drawn-out review, I will write a quick synopsis along with the PROs and Cons that I've encountered.

Skyrim's gameplay is not drastically different from its predecessor Oblivion. So if you enjoyed Oblivion I highly recommend that you get this game. Skyrim's gameplay is similar to such a point that I refer to it as Oblviion 2.0. This is not necessarily a bad thing, since I enjoyed Oblivion and it was also an excellent game.


- Fun, engaging gameplay
- interesting story lines that do not restrict the player to a given script
- infinite questing
- new, more intuitive leveling system, a needed change from Oblivion
- free roam, expansive environment with breath-taking landscape views
- Mods. Want darker nights? Naked NPCS? Player designed quests? Skyrim is moddable.


- the menus are a bit clunky on a PC with keyboard/mouse use. It is mildly frustrating to peruse the menus with the mouse
- my mouse's left click controls my character's right hand and right click controls my character's left hand. This is irritating
- Hostile AI is "stupid" and easy to outsmart. Giant spider attacks me, I run to a doorway through which it cannot fit and then fire my spells at it - while it vainly tries to claw at me OR giant rats try to claw at me through a closed gate, so I just stand there and blast them with my spells. They don't even try to run or hide, but rather vainly try to strike me with melee through a sealed gate.
-sometimes the game crashes after looting a chest/barrel/variant. Happened to me once and other users have reported similarly

The cons however are not game-breaking and are just irritants. I give Skyrim 4 stars, because it is an awesome RPG, yet barely falls short of perfection.

Now I am off to play Skyrim, my favorite game of 2011.
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569 of 745 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2011
This review is a PERSONAL OPINION, nothing more. I do not claim that what I write here is gospel, simply the view of this game from a hardcore PC gamer perspective.

First off, lets get the cons out of the way. For fellow PC gamers out there looking for amazing graphics and a smooth game, look elsewhere. This is a direct console port, complete with keys that can't be remapped, a horrible console UI, mouse behaves very weird, and it does not take advantage of the much more powerful PC equipment at all. I hope that future patches fix this, but for 60$, the same amount of attention should have been paid to my version of the release as all the console gamers.

I look for immersion when I play a game, and unfortunately the constant, never ending reminders that this game was made for consoles constantly pull me out of the enjoyment of this game. It is most frustrating that the MOUSE cursor moves very strange. How can you make a game for a PC and not even address that? Also, every menu has the usual consolitis problem of having the proper button to press in the lower part of the screen. You can, fortunately, ignore this and use your mouse and the escape button to navigate around, but it is just another indicator that this game is optimized for a small, weak console system. The menus are all console menus. They look very weird and are very, very dumbed down compared to what is usual for a made-for-PC game. This is very unfortunate, considering TES was originally designed for the PC. I have to admit I was caught very offguard and I really, really wish that I would have waited to read some reviews before buying this game. It is very jarring and unnatural when I have to change gear, and just goes to further alienate me from the game world. On that note, this is the first RPG I've ever played without a paper doll equipment system. The only way you know something is equipped is by the arrow next to the equipment. Very simple system, like it was created by a 6 year old for 4 year olds.

For all the fanboi's out there raving about the graphics, I can only assume you played this on a console and aren't used to what a PC can do. I have a pretty powerful computer I made myself, and I'm used to games that are damn near photo-realistic. Skyrim looks like an upgraded Oblivion engine, no more. Graphics are somewhat dated. However, the scenery is very beautiful. Looking at mountains in the distance is breathtaking. It isn't until you get close to people and monsters that you notice this game is clearly, once again, optimized for very low end machinery. There is not too much difference in the way this game looks between medium and ultra, sadly. There are plenty of graphics options, but they don't really appear to change much.

Sound- I am on a 7.1 surround system with a Creative X-Fi card, and it does not sound very good. Not what I was expecting at all. However, it does sound a lot better when I put on headphones. This game was optimized for TV speakers and headphones I suspect. Just another indicator that ZERO thought was put into the PC version. They did the ABSOLUTE minimum to get it to work on a PC and left it that.

Stability - This game crashes a lot. I expected it to though. Those of you who played Morrowind and Oblivion recall that they also crashed a lot until they released a few stability patches. make sure you save before looting. Which brings up a another peeve....you can't name your saves. SERIOUSLY? This is supposed to be a damn PC game, or at least that is what I bought...it said PC-DVD. Again, it was made for consoles, not PCs.

Ok, that was the bad, and there was a lot of it. Now for the good.

This game is fun. No, it isn't perfect, but it is fun, and in the end that is all a game is meant to be. Graphics aren't everything, neither are menus, sound, etc. I am having fun playing it. There are a lot of annoying things about it, and it isn't as great as it could be. But it is fun. Definitely worth playing through, and if you happen to own an Xbox or PS3, I would recommend playing on those systems instead of the PC. For you PC gamers out there, I would recommend waiting to buy this until they have released a few patches. For you purists out there like myself, I would recommend waiting until they release a PC UI and fix the vertical mouse problems. If they don't ever do this, you might want to wait for another PC-RPG. Unfortunately, you might be waiting a while, as the money is definitely in the 13-16 console crowd.

As mentioned, the scenery from a distance is quite beautiful. Combat is fine, nothing to write home about. Those of you looking forward to getting into the nuts and bolts of the TES universe, and making your own spells and such are going to be disappointed, unfortunately. I however, don't miss that one bit. I like learning a spell and that's that.

It is somewhat disconcerting to play in 1st person mode and have no body, which creates a weightless feeling, so that somewhat detracts from the combat, but you get used to it after a few hours.

In my opinion, the side quests are more fun that the Oblivion ones. The world is also less cookie cutter. Everything doesn't feel exactly the same.

In the end, I would recommend buying this NOW if you are a console gamer. I would recommend waiting for Christmas sales if you are a PC gamer, and wait and see if they are going to fix the many PC problems.

*edit* For you fellow PC gamers out there, TES games traditionally have an active mod community. Someday soon all the gripes in this review will be fixed, either by Bethesda in official patches, or by fan made mods. There are a few fixes out now, but they require editing your .ini files and playing with some other settings. Depending on your comfort level with computers, you may find these fixes easy, hard, or impossible. Proceed at your own risk.
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37 of 48 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 27, 2011
First let me say that I found the predecessor for this game (Oblivion) to be problematic and in many ways they've improved from that game broken elements. I'll quickly hit on those points and then dive in to why I am only giving this game three stars.

I'm not going to shower this game with praise -- if you want to see why people think it's a great game read critic reviews or the 5/5 stars here. The graphics are nice, it fundamentally is fun even though it's shallow, and there is a lot to do. I think, however, that the following issues definitely warrant at least two of the review stars to be banished to oblivion.

Oblivion problems solved:

One of the first things Oblivion players will be relieved to see is that the annoying level scaling system is no longer in place; in Oblivion if you were a thief and leveled all your main skills you would almost instantly become fodder for enemies as they leveled up while you only leveled your thieving skills. In Skyrim when you level you have a choice of whether to add points toward health, stamina, or magic. It's a bit dumbed down but you won't even think about strategizing leveling like you had to in past Elder Scrolls games. One thing you may end up spending time thinking about, however, are the perks which you receive (like Fallout 3's perk system somewhat) which before they can be spent on a skill require some skill level to exist. These make the game somewhat fun and allow you to customize your character a bit more aside from just the pools of health, mana, and stamina.

Some effort has gone into the dungeons such that they no longer feel like the same exact dungeon but with a different creature guarding. In some dungeons you'll find unique puzzles to solve but for the most part they are trivial and after you deal with one you'll have the hang of it. Traps are back and in full force but aside from some very rare ones they tend to be weak enough where you likely won't die once you've leveled up any.

Now on to Skyrim (I'll avoid any spoilers):

The economy of Skyrim is fundamentally broken. By the time I was offered my first house (which wasn't all that late in my game play) I could already afford the house and many of the improvements on it. By the time I finished the game I had 150,000 or so septims on me and nothing to spend them on. Yes, I could have paid trainers to learn skills but what's the point? Is that the only thing worth spending money on? At least in Oblivion you had to pay enchanters to enchant -- since it's all manually done now there is no big sink hole to put money into -- I stopped selling items because it just wasn't worth it -- you'll quickly run out of things to spend on. On top of that it becomes even worse toward the end of the game as you do level up as enemies will start to carry ebony weapons so you'll instantly have some gear worth almost the lot of what merchants carry per kill.

Main Quest:
It's very shallow. I know some people are raving at the originality of the story but seriously, play the game and write down the story on a piece of paper. You'll notice you can't write more than a paragraph. The story starts out alright throwing in the possibility that this issue with the dragons could be caused by any number of interested parties and makes you wonder what's going on but later becomes one dimensional and easily predictable. I won't go into detail but don't buy this game for the story (Oblivion suffered a similar fate). The quests as well are fairly tedious and usually are fetch quest related.

One more note on dungeons (I mentioned it in the comparison above but needs to be said) they are completely linear. There are no interesting paths through them aside from the main one where you'll pretty much avoid trap, fight monster behind corner, walk a bit, open door, and then repeat.

Guild Quests:
I played through the lot of the guilds before finishing the main quest and must say I'm not impressed. I don't want to give spoilers about the guilds but since it's common knowledge which guilds exist will break up the review into the guilds themselves. One thing to note is that unlike previous games where you had outposts at separate locations where you performed tasks this game limits each guild to one location. One thing to note as well: unlike other games there are no requirements to becoming a member or guildmaster of any of the guilds... it's all quest related -- aka you can become the mage's guild leader without knowing any magic aside from the one you're given when you go to visit them.

The Companions (Skyrim's version of the Fighter's Guild): effectively clear enemies from locations quests. Nothing particularly entertaining aside from one of the first quests.

Winterhold College (Mage's guild): Quest is alright but another set of quests where you go and kill everyone. They don't explain why things are happening often even after it's all over.

Thieves Guild: Tedious. There are two types of quests... the main one and the side ones where you do a thieving job. The main quest line is fine (although it's mostly kill things related which doesn't make sense although if your sneak is high enough I guess you can avoid all kills). The thieving jobs are tedious and just annoying to do. In order to advance (even if you finish the main quest) you need to get 5 jobs done and a special quest each for 4 cities. The problem is the quests given to you are random so unless you found this out online (like I did after like 30 random tedious quests) you likely won't know how to advance.

Dark Brotherhood: You will mostly fast travel and the creative elements to kills have been removed (in Oblivion you were asked to kill a guy by dropping a moosehead hanging above him on his head -- not here). There is an epic quest in this line but the actual execution of such was much less epic.

Legion / Civil War quests: Mostly either defend this location from an onslaught or kill all the people at this location. Not going to spoil anything but the game makes this line much more of the story than the actual work in the quests themselves.

Misc Non Infinite Quests:
That is quests that aren't of the randomly generated but are misc. The quests were sometimes good and sometimes really bad... I guess it depends on which designer made the said quests. Some were interesting (Daedra quests) while others trivial and not well thought out.

General Other Quests:
One of the talking points for the game was their infinite quest system which finds a point to have a quest and sets you off. For the most part these are trivial (as you would imagine) fetch, kill, fedex quests. There is no thought in them and aside from a small amount of money given to you (who needs money in this broken economy world) no point in really doing them. I admit I did some of them if only to find out where there was a dragon perch, etc as the dragons themselves usually have good loot by their perchs.

Character Equipment:

As mentioned by others the controls are completely console focused. In order to speed up my mouse I had to quit the game and go to the initial splash screen options and move up sensitivity otherwise it was a hassle to play. This wasn't the worst of it though... The screen options are fairly large but often my mouse will hit the wrong item... sometimes when speaking it'll get stuck until I exit the chat and try again. Other times I'll be trying to eat an alchemy item to learn its first effect and it'll eat the wrong one. It's just a huge pain. Don't get me started on smithing though it's even worse there. You go to make an item (especially when you're grinding your skill up) and you have to select the item from the list (which you can do with the enter button) but then use only your mouse to click the okay button that you really want to create the item. I eventually found you could line up the item you want to make right under the okay button and then spam hit the mouse to build things.

Companions are folks who travel with you and fight along side you. For the most part I wasn't impressed by the system. They aren't as dumb as previous iterations of companions but often get lost when you're on a dungeon crawl and you'll find them pretty far back once you go to find them. In general you can use them as pack mules but depending upon who you pick as a companion some are very powerful and some are pretty weak (this could be perceived though and actually could be the same strength, not sure as they don't show any stats in the game about anyone).

Very cool the first time you fight one but very easy once you've knocked down a few. It's pretty much the same moves over and over again. I did once have to face two of them at once but it wasn't so bad at that point as you'll start to see the pattern.

Monster Selection:
I was sad to see a good selection of the daedra were no longer in the game. The gator faced guy, scamps, etc all gone. I guess it makes sense since this game is based on the dragons and not the daedra but aside from one daedra god's shrine I really didn't see even the casters pulling any out (well aside from the fire, frost and storm monsters).

In their place there are a lot of animals (saber cats, ice wolves, passive hawks in the sky, foxes, etc), bonewalkers are draug now and have different ranks, dragons (obviously), giants, and mammoths.

Save often in some of the bigger dungeons as the game has the habit of just shutting itself down... In the older games they usually put message boxes explaining why they were shutting down but for this one they just completely turn off. I'm hoping they are sending messages home via steam about the problems to be fixed but who knows.

Quest Bugs:
Save before you complete some quests especially the guild ones. I was asked to clear an area out for a guild quest and then later one of the main quests was broken completely (never given) because one of the pre-conditions was that at least one person was alive in the location. I had to find this out online so I went to an earlier save and waited 30 days for the place to repopulate and then was able to get the quest. You have to wonder whether the testers who played the game really tested all the right things. Even if the clear locations are randomly generated (which they may as they sent me back to the same dungeon to clear it out twice in my main quest) the testers should have tried accepting quests and checking to make sure the it repopulates the area if that's a precondition.

On top of that several times I ended up with a quest item I couldn't get rid of any no indication of why or a quest to deposit it somewhere. One of the main quest items is 30 pounds. I have had to lug the thing around since I got it even though I finished the main quest. I later looked online and found where I can likely get rid of it but seriously you hold people's hands through all the normal quests but can't give me a stupid fedex quest to ditch this item?

Finally this gets me to some of the other areas of the game not deserving their own point such as marriage and home ownership and home storage.

Marriage is one of the added features in the game which allow you at some point later in the game to get married. Once you do so your spouse will cook you a meal and potentially give you half of their shop earnings (if they were a merchant). However, aside from having that person live where you want them to, there is no benefit to being married. It really feels like it was added solely as a point on the feature list and not fleshed out.

Home ownership is very similar to Oblivion's aside from the fact you can pay a person to improve your homes. It's really one of the few things you'll spend money on in the game and for the most part fleshes out the location. The homes aside from the first one you have a chance to get are usually a pain to get to, however, as there are no easy waypoints to get to them. Some of them are more majestic than others but I spent very little time at them aside from carting a load of goods from a dungeon out.

Buy the game if you can overlook the issues I mentioned. It works because you can do fun things are run around for hours but it's not as great as the professional critics want you to think it is. It's in no way worth all the hype. I'm a huge storyline sort of guy so this just kills the game for me -- the lack of thought that went into things.
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37 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2011
I am brand new to the Elder Scrolls series. I have never played Oblivion or Morrowind (or any others that may exist) and I have to say I absolutely love this game! I've played this game for 75 hours now and I decided to go ahead and give it a review. I got the PC version which I run on "ultra high" settings and I have to say the visuals are amazing! I also have a PS3. Some games I have played that relate a little to this game would be: Red Dead Redemption, Lair, Aion, Ego Draconis, Dragon Nest, and Fable III.

Character Customization. It's not as detailed or as in-depth as Aion, but that's actually more of a blessing for me. I spend hours upon hours on character creation screens because if I'm going to be playing an RPG type game, then my character better look good. You can color the entire body of a character, color parts of the face, add hair/horns/feathers and tattoos. There are plenty of pre-set characters too for those that don't want to fool with sliders and color options. A couple of things I was disappointed in was the lack of eye colors and the full body colors. I wasn't expecting a hot pink Elf or neon green eyes, but solid black and solid white (would look nice on a Kahjit) aren't even an option. There are "white" and "black" colors, but there are mandatory fur patterns that go with the race so a solid color is not possible. If you choose white fur, you will get gray/black markings with it and if you choose black fur then you actually get gray fur with black markings. Being slightly disappointed with that, I chose an Argonian. Lizards rule. Overall I give character customization a 9/10 because there could be more options, but I was very impressed with the selection they give you.

The Map/Quests. The map is HUGE! I'm a big fan of Red Dead Redemption, and I thought that map was a decent size until I played this game. Skyrim's map blows Red Dead's map out of the water. No doubt about that at all. For the most part, everything looks really nice, rocks are detailed, water is pretty, nice lighting effects, and the map takes about 30 minutes to cross from one end to the other. Every now and then you'll see a side of the mountain that looks like 8 pixels are stretching 40 feet. However, that is pretty rare. As far as quests go, there's a lot. What bothers me about the quests is that if you don't complete one a certain way, you can't progress to the next quest. Some quests are glitched too. I was unfortunate enough to pick up a book called "Souls, Black and White" in a dungeon. 20 minutes later I receive a quest that instructs me to find the very same book in the same dungeon. When I go to the location where I found the book, it obviously isn't there. The quest won't aknowledge it's in my inventory either so I'm stuck with it until it gets patched. I can't even drop it due to it being a quest item. Now I have to research quests online before I finish them to make sure I'm not screwing myself out of more content. If you fail certain quests, you're permanently locked out of good content *cough* Dark Brotherhood*cough*. Overall, I am really impressed with the map 10/10, the graphics deserve a 9.5/10 and the quests need some bugs worked out, but are still entertaining 8.5/10.

The Horse. It's terrible. I wasn't expecting the thoroughbreds from Red Dead Redemption, but the animations are killing me. The horse seems to be a second behind everything that happens to it. If it jumps off a cliff it will continue to run for another second or two before switching to the "falling" animation. The same thing happens when it lands on the ground. I assure you it's not lag either. Not only that, but you're locked into 3rd person as you ride your horse, which forces you to watch the horse (with the girth of a mini-van) climb a steep hill with super speedy leg animations. Not to mention the horse is slow too. For 1,000 gold, I want something that runs faster than me. When the horse sprints, it's pretty fast, but it has an invisible (yes, invisible) stamina bar so you can't tell how much sprint you have left. That really sucks when monsters are chasing you and the horse can't even outrun them. There's no mounted horse combat either, so you have to dismount to fight. Speaking of monsters, the horse will run right into the thick of battle and help you attack enemies. It thinks it's helping, but it's not. It either ends up dying by my enemies' hands, or by my own hands when it runs in front of my attacks. So overall, I am not too impressed with the horse. The horse gets a 5/10.

Sounds and Cutscenes. The musical score is nice, and the sound effects are really high quality. Wind sounds vary from harsh and frigid to calm and soothing. When a dragon roars, it is terrifying! When swords clash and clang, they sound realistic. Cutscenes are a whole different story. In a cutscene, there are almost no gestures or animation. People will scream "WATCH OUT!!!" While just standing there with blank expressions, hands by their side. Really? Not even a point in the direction I'm supposed to be watching? I'll take bad animations and hand gestures over none at all. Sound gets a 10/10 and cutscenes get a 3/10. The only reason cutscenes don't get a 0/10 is because they're there. At least they kind of tried.

Glitches!!! From flying whooly mammoths to bright blue trees, this game has some glitches. I've had dead dragon bodies fall out of the sky right on top of my character, whooly mammoths have plummeted from thousands of feet to their deaths, some quests have glitched on me, and my personal favorite glitch: invisible dragons. Most of them are just visual glitches (like the bright blue trees) which can be fixed with a simple re-load of the save file. Some of them are annoying, such as invisible dragons and monsters. How can you kill it if you can't see it? Again, it usually fixes itself after reloading a few times. A few of them are gamebreaking or partially game breaking, such as quest bugs. Pick up a quest book before you get the quest. Once you get the quest, you can't turn in the book because the game won't recognize it. If an NPC dies, it's permanent, so be careful who you kill because a corpse can't give you quests.

Houses and followers. I've only unlocked one house and upgraded it fully. It's actually really nice! You can sit in the chairs and store an infinite amount of items in the pantries and storage boxes. The followers you get in Skyrim aren't the best AI I've seen, but they're ok. For example, if you decide to go down the side of a mountain the fast way (jumping down all the jagged rocks) instead of taking the 30 minute walkway down, your follower won't jump down the mountain with you. They will go down the 30 minute path, and bump into every wild animal possible. Another genius moment is in battle: you're attacking an enemy and your follower darts right in front of you while you're swinging your sword. Then they have the audacity to yell "hey watch it!" They can be lifesavers though. Anything in the game, besides you, can't kill your follower. Monsters will attack your follower until he/she keels over in pain, but then they leave them alone and come after you. It sounds bad, but once the aggro is off of your follower, he/she starts regaining health and jumps right back into battle. Houses get a 10/10. I'm not comparing it to Harvest Moon where you can decide down to what type of wallpaper you want, but for a game not focused on housing, this aspect is done nicely. The followers get a 7/10 because they have saved me on more than one occassion, and they make great pack mules. Plus, they're smart enough to bring out a torch at night so you can see.

Monsters and Dungeons and Dragons oh my! The dragons are varied nicely, are very well done and have fluid animations. Some have horns, some have fins, some have spikes on their tails and some have fan-like webs. Every now and then one might do a split second 180 in mid-air, but I'll let that slide. The dragons are pretty smart too. If you hide behind a rock and try to whittle down its health with arrows, the dragon will land and come peer around at your clever hiding place, then eat you or torch you. The monsters aren't really that varied, you'll see a lot of the same model of monster. This goes for the wildlife as well. There's really only 5 different animals. Rabbits, bears, moose, wolves, and foxes. There are birds, but I really like birds and I haven't tried to shoot down one, nor do I think I will. The dungeons start off pretty simple with some fairly easy puzzles thrown in. However, some of the dungeons I have recently finished were horrible. When I say horrible, I mean they were huge, long dungeons with no cutscenes, no puzzles, and hardly any monsters to fight. Even running through them as fast as I could still took about an hour to complete. Some dungeons I would gladly re-visit, but a couple I swear I will never set foot in again. Monsters get an 8/10, graphics are nice, but not really varied with a decent AI. Dungeons had a 9/10, but literally two dungeons were 3/10 just because they were so b-o-r-i-n-g and took f-o-r-e-v-e-r. Dragons get a 10/10. They look awesome, sound awesome, and they're just really, well, awesome?

Character Armor/Weapons/Classes/Perks. I like the system Skyrim uses for classes and perks. I'm leaning more towards thief elements such as lock picking, sneaking, dual wielding, etc. However, I've got enough points in magic to torch an ice yeti into a puddle. I like the freedom of being able to pick random perks instead of being locked into a class. A lot of armor and weapons in the game look the same. There's not a lot of unique-ness in the clothing department. If you become a somebody or do something extraordinary, you might get a piece of clothing or piece of armor that looks really cool (trying not to spoil anything). But looting monsters, even bosses, produce the same looking weapons and armor as the last dungeon you did. Perks get a 10/10 and armor/weapons get a 7/10.

One last thing to mention, one-shot kills and death animations. If you time a sword strike just right, you get a little movie of your character finishing off a bad guy in slow-mo style. However, all monsters and other people in the game can do this to you as well!!! If your health gets a little low, a bandit/monster can perform their killing movie/animation on you! Then you get to see yourself die in slow-mo. I don't really have an opinion on this one, because I enjoy the death animations, even when they're showing me die in slow-mo. Depending on the situation, I either start laughing (I was eaten by a dragon, slow-mo movie style) or start flicking off the screen (I whittled down a boss for 1 hour and right before the finishing blow, he scored a death scene on me!). It really depends on the situation.

Overall this game is extremely addictive and very fun! I would rate this game as a whole a 9.5/10. If you like dragons, RPGs, sandbox-type games, or other games in this genre, I think you will enjoy this game a lot! There's so much to do. There's too much to do!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 2012
Skyrim will provide you with countless hours of very enjoyable gameplay. The game offers very wide choices of character customization including a natural skill progression system, huge open spaces and a beautiful visual and audio experience. A total immersion atmosphere.
Reason why I did not give the perfect score is that the game still suffers the comparison with the classics of the genre including around very limited party creation, interaction with NPCs, and a sleek but not practical inventory management interface. Even in future releases, it will be difficult to elevate the game to a true masterpiece: the 5th remaining star will remain the toughest to gain. Details below where I am focusing on explaining the limitations to an otherwise great and heavily recommended game.

Video / Graphics 4/5
* The landscapes details are beautiful and simply breathtaking. Their depth both was brought to new levels horizontally and vertically. Sure you do not reach the photographic detail level seen in Crysis I but still the depth and details offered in Skyrim are unprecedented in a fantasy RPG.
* The monsters and in particular the dragons are amazing in details. Most characters overall look good though a PC only release would likely have meant an even higher quality.
* The disappointment comes on 2 main fronts: i) limited diversity in landscapes and ii) avatar graphics. The limited diversity is due to Skyrim being one single region within the Elderscrolls., which is mainly made of mountains, rivers, forests and ice landscapes. This also means the villages and towns, the interiors also all look alike. You will very rarely see actual fantasy beyond this middle age style universe. Some themes are over exploited all along the game, including the ancient Dwarven cities, pretty much everywhere, and the cave systems. Other games like Guild wars and Baldur's Gate II, Diablo II, all offer a much wider breath of landscapes. The second main flaw is that the avatar face graphics: you have to be extra talented to make your character actually look good, which some even much older games could so successfully.
* Cut scenes and cinematics are both very good.
* User Interface: Likely the most rudimentary interface you could expect for this type of game. While the minimalist feel was voluntary and does further increase the player immersion, an option to expand the interface could at least have been offered to the player. Their absence complicates basic items management including buying and selling. Unless inventory management and other user interfaces are severely upgraded in future releases, this will be one of the few remaining flaws of Skyrim.

Roleplaying 3.5/5
* Character building: the best character building feature is that development it is centered around the skills you actually use during the game, which give a natural progression feel and really the impression that you deserve progressing in these specific skills.
* Quests: while I wrote earlier the story seemed to be written for a warrior, the quests on the other hand seem to be heavily biased towards the thief class and evil oriented characters, so perfect for evil thieves / assassins and evil warriors. Amount of quests dedicated for mages is fair but poor in comparison, and even poorer if you are looking a good oriented warrior / paladin.
* Combat: The stealth abilities are one of the best made and fun features of the game and actually make you smile at each of the countless backstabs you will make during a game. I would rank the range combat as second, followed by magic and melee which a bit more tricky but still rewarding.
* Dialogues: Dialogues and story choices are of the poorest levels encountered in a role playing game. The level of dialogue choices and your ability to actually influence the story or quest line is close to inexistent. Sure, you can decide to do a quest or not, but you can hardly decide how can you do it, where some of the players have the most fun and made the success of some games like Deux Ex.
* Story : Good overall, with legitimate efforts to give reasons behind the dragon fights. The main quest story does appear to have been built for a warrior.
* Party / Team Playing: The game was made to be played as a single player campaign and with one single player. Just another oddity of Skyrim. Officially, the maximum amount of companions your main character can have is one. Yes, one. And controls over this one NPC are limited to basic commands and to the rudimentary item management system. So no, no epic party where you could choose which combination best fitted your playing style, explore the varieties of playing style and builds and how they complement each other, no interactions with NPCs which at times nearly feel invisible as hardly have their own story or interaction with how the story unfolds. Baldur's Gates and even the recent Dragon Age series have nothing to worry about it here.

Audio 4/5
Music: nothing to say, without hesitation, Skyrim has some of the best tracks to the genre. Producers have found the right balance of diversity.
Sound effects are also excellent and right in tune with the game events. This means you have to pay attention if you want to survive in both the wilderness and dungeons.
Voices: developers could have hired just another few actors, it would have prevented from hearing constantly and all over Skyrim the same one guy playing every single character out there. What happened really.
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