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Sleep is for the weak!
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.