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About the Product
- Skyrim reimagines the open-world fantasy epic, pushing the game play and technology of a virtual world to new heights
- Play any type of character you can imagine, and do whatever you want; the legendary freedom of choice, storytelling
- Skyrim's new game engine brings to life a complete virtual world with rolling clouds, rugged mountains and ancient dungeons
- Choose from hundreds of weapons, spells, and abilities; the new character system allows you to play any way you want, contains the premium map
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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is the next installment in the award-winning Elder Scrolls series. Skyrim is the follow up to the 2006 Game of the Year, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and the next game from Bethesda Game Studios, creators of the 2008 Game of the Year, Fallout 3.
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I do have one gripe that I see has been addressed by some other reviewers who gave a low rating for the game on amazon. That is that you have to pause the action to switch spells. In Oblivion, I could instantly switch spells with the d-pad and then cast them with RB while wielding a sword and shield. In Skyrim, you must assign a spell to one hand or the other, so it kind of feels like you have lost your RB button. I can understand this complaint.
However, if you have posted about this, keep in mind that your RB button is not idle. It has been reserved for shouts, and you will obtain shouts eventually although you have to play along the main quest until you get the first one. I have none as yet because I am focused on the mages' guild for now. However once you do you get shouts, you can instantly cast them with RB while also dual wielding whatever you choose.
The bottom line though is that this game is basically like Oblivion on steroids. If you liked Oblivion and spent 200+ hours playing it like I did, you will be addicted to Skyrim. Having playing all through yesterday and now it's 4 am and I'm getting up to play some more rather than get some sleep, this is probably the best game I've ever played. That's a lot of praise coming from a life long gamer. Again, so long as you like RPG's as opposed to say, MW3 (which a lot of people are playing non stop right now as well), this is the game for you. BTW $65 almost feels like a very low price if you were to actually measure out how many hours you are going to spend playing this game over the next year or so, and divide it by $65. I could spend $65 in a heartbeat at say, a Jets game at the Meadowlands, but that money goes a LONG way when playing Skyrim.
To sum up...why am I wasting my time typing this review? Time to go play Skyrim.
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!