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Customer Review

157 of 169 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond my Expectations...., November 12, 2011
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This review is from: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Video Game)
First and foremost, I have to give props to the art department at Bethesda. The art direction for this game is so far above earlier titles that even comparing them to this game is utterly pointless. Its literally in a class by itself and this is evident everywhere you look. The most obvious and impressive improvement has to be the design of the clothing, armor and weapons. The intricate designs are truly breathtaking. Even the cheap equipment you first start off with is stunning. For example, one of the first shields your introduced to in the game is the Hide Shield and its absolutely beautiful. Large metal rivets circle the outer diameter and intricate designs adorn the leather. It even has the dents and nicks one would expect to see from a shield that has seen its fair share of battle. This attention to detail is seen everywhere and it goes right down to the bindings of the books and the crackle glazed dishes and pottery found adorning most tables and halls. When you add this to the significant improvement in graphics....well, what you get is a level of realism that simply blows earlier titles out of the water. This is hands down the best art direction I have ever seen from a video game and ultimately it gives this world a level of realism that we simply haven't seen before.

The world itself is absolutely beautiful. One of the first open scenes I came across was a large flowing river that had huge rocks jetting up creating white water/rapids. Large mountains were in the background with wisps of clouds running all up and down the side of the mountain. It was absolutely stunning. I had to just stop and stare for a few moments. The draw distance has been significantly increased and the detail, as I wrote up above, is amazing. The landscape itself is just one big work of art. Traveling around and discovering the land for yourself has always been one of the big enjoyments for fans of this series. Well, Skyrim doesn't disappoint in this regard. In fact, this is easily the best title yet in regards to this aspect of the game. No other game series can compete with the size and scope of the worlds that Bethesda creates for this series and no other game in the Elder Scrolls series even comes close to matching what Bethesda has achieved this time around with Skyrim. They have significantly leapfrogged anything and everything they have done in the past.

An issue I feel compelled to discuss is the huge improvement with the 3rd person perspective in this game. As I am sure people are aware, 3rd person perspective in Oblivion was pretty bad. Actually, it was awful. You could switch over for short periods but the game was pretty much unplayable from that perspective. Well, the improvement Bethesda has made in this aspect of the game is nothing short of amazing. Your character no longer looks like he is walking on air and your easily able to interact with your environment. Basically this game is now wholly playable from this perspective. I prefer playing in 3rd person perspective when I am just traveling around and its just really nice to see Bethesda finally take the proper steps to fix this aspect of this series. If your going to include it than at least make it playable and Bethesda has done just that.

You can immediately tell that this is an Elder Scrolls game but dont let that fool you. There are a lot of changes behind Skrim. One of the most obvious changes is with the skill system. The skills themselves are pretty much the same. You have Alchemy, Illusion, Conjuration, Destruction, Restoration, Alteration, Enchanting, Heavy Armor, Light Armor, Block, One Handed, Two Handed, Archery, Sneak, Lockpicking, Pickpocket, Speech and a new one Smithing. The big difference lies in the fact that you now have specialty skills for each skill category and there are multiple branching paths one can take. For example, the Stealth skill has two different branches that one can take, one that focuses on stealth (Muffled Movement, Light Foot, Silent Roll, ect.) and one that focuses on blade skills (Backstab, Deadly aim, and Assassins blade). This ultimately adds a significant amount of depth to character progression and it also adds to the games re-playability factor as there are now so many different avenues one can take. On top of this there are no longer character classes. You still have the different races of character to choose from but choosing a class is history. What kind of character you become (Spellcaster, Fighter etc.) is solely dependent on the skills you choose to upgrade or in other words its dependent on how you play your character. Personally I love this new system as it doesn't lock you into a specific mold for your character and it leaves everything open for you to explore. Its just a far more organic system and ultimately I think its a significant step forward for this series in regards to character development.

Another big change is with the menu system and this is easily one of the best changes made in this game. The new menu system is just far more intuitive. Basically the menu system has been broken down into 4 distinct categories. There is Skills, Items, Map, and Magic. You have to press the menu button to access the menu but once you do that, you no longer need to press buttons. Simply press the left stick in the direction of the menu you want and it automatically changes. Once you have done this, a new subsystem of selections will come up and pressing the left stick to the right will take you to the next menu and so on. No button pressing needed. Basically the left thumb stick controls all of your movements within the menu system, with no button pressing needed. I may not have described it very well but its hands down one of the best menu systems I have ever used. Again, its just a far more intuitive system and it just has a great feel to it. You never leave the main screen when accessing menu's. It just blurs out a bit and acts as a background to the menus themselves. This basically does two things, it helps to keep the menus from detracting from the game itself and it ultimately makes the menu system far more attractive. They have also updated the item menu with 3 dimensional representations of the in game items. You can now spin items around a 360 degree axis, both vertical and horizontal. Its a small detail but a very cool one, especially for the weapons and armor.

I also have to mention the skill menu as the way they have graphically laid this system out is...well, its nothing short of stunning. Each individual skill is represented by a constellation in the sky and beautiful gaseous nebula act as a background to the constellations. The visual effect is gorgeous. You can cycle left or right through the skills/constellations and when you access the branching skill set associated with each skill, you suddenly zoom into the constellation itself and the different branching skills are suddenly represented by the individual stars in that particular constellation. Its kind of difficult to properly explain but trust me, the effect is not only stunning, its also nothing short of ingenious. Its EASILY one of the best, if not the best, molds of form and function I have seen yet in videogames. Words simply cant do this games art direction justice. It really has to be seen firsthand to be fully appreciated.

Combat has also been overhauled and what we wind up with is a system that is far more fluid, and ultimately a lot more fun, than previous releases. Characters are now able to duel wield both weapons and spells and can even mix up the two. In other words, you can assign a sword to one hand and a spell to another hand or you can go with a staff in one hand and a spell in the other. You can mix it up anyway you want. This new system fits perfectly with the new character system (that being one with no character classes). By adding so many options in regards to how to approach combat, they have essentially added strategy to the mix, something that was entirely lacking in Oblivion. Well, short of actually picking what character class you were actually going to play in oblivion. Basically the combat is just far superior to what we had with Oblivion. Unfortunately you can no longer assign weapons and spells to the D-pad and this is really one of my only complaints with the game. I dont understand why Bethesda decided to get rid of this. They could have even split the D-pad field in two, to accommodate the dual wielding nature of the game. In other words, they could have made the 4 slots on the left for the left hand and the 4 right slots on the right for the right hand. That would still have given you 4 quick slots for each hand.

There are lots of other aspects to this game that have been updated but I will leave the rest of them for the player to discover and while there are lots of new additions to Skyrim, fortunately there is also a lot that hasn't changed. Traveling is still done the same way. Once you have actually discovered a location you have the option to fast travel to that location. There are still lots of different factions that one can join, all of which have additional quests associated with them. You can still go about playing the game as you want. You still collect herbs and ingredients for potions. There are still hundreds of different books that one can read. I could go on and on and on and on. This is an Elder Scrolls game after all and Bethesda has kept the heart of the game intact and that is a very good thing indeed. I wont go into the story aspect of this game as I hate spoilers. I will just say that the main story line is fantatstic and is really the icing on the cake.

Bottom line - I am a huge Elder Scrolls fan and I have been watching this game since it was first announced. To say my expectations were extremely high would be a massive understatement. With that being said, Skyrim is everything that I hoped for and then some. It hasn't just raised the bar, its launched it into the stratosphere. If your an Elder Scrolls fan then buying this should be a no brainer. This is the kind of game people buy consoles for and this is easily Bethesda's best work yet in regards to this series. They have just taken this franchise to a whole new level. Thankfully, I have lots of time in the coming months to discover all that this game has to offer and make no mistake about it, what this game has to offer....well, its limited only by the amount of time you spend with it.

Outstanding, simply outstanding!

5 Stars!
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 1, 2012 2:25:43 AM PST
S. Castro says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Jan 6, 2012 12:12:21 PM PST
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Jan 9, 2012 10:31:49 PM PST
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Posted on Jan 10, 2012 12:13:23 PM PST
Mech Head says:
This review is almost as long and epic as the game. Great Review! I agree with everything you have said and this is a great synopsis of all the changes.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 21, 2012 2:34:45 PM PST
OrangeCrush says:
"You don't get out much, do you? "

Actually its just the opposite. I dont get indoors much. I spend the VAST majority of my time shooting pictures. In fact, I am usually out the door before sunrise and dont get back until the sun has set. With that being said, I only work around 90 days a year so I have WAY TOO much free time and one of the things I enjoy doing if the weather is crappy is writing reviews. Not that time has anything to do with this review as it only took me 20 minutes to write. Yes, its long but then again its impossible to give Skyrim a proper review in just a couple paragraphs. Maybe you should just stick to reviews that are just a couple sentences long. Reviews like "Skyrim is AWESOME, MAN.....Buy it"

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 20, 2012 12:18:13 AM PDT
haha i love ur review and ur reply above made me smile ur last little bit :) thank you for the review!! :)

Posted on Nov 8, 2012 8:09:42 AM PST
Phil says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 6, 2015 8:19:15 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 21, 2015 7:40:41 PM PDT
OrangeCrush says:
I'm curious, do people like yourself, those that are clearly challenged by anything more than a couple sentences, really believe that reviewers care if you actually read their review or not?

TL/DR is nothing more than short hand for "I have no attention span so I couldn't read". My advice, shut your game system off from time time and actually read a book. Maybe then you could actually read a few paragraphs without feeling overwhelmed. Either way, I couldn't possibly care less if you read my review or not. I didn't write it for people like you. The reviews that are only one or two sentences long are for people like you.
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