Monday, November 14, 2011
Skyrim - A Review
Despite the fact that it's not a book, I'm so obsessed with this game right now that it just wouldn't be right -not- to publish a review about it. So like everyone and their mother, I figured I'd post one up once I felt as thought I'd seen enough to have a valid opinion.
Since I started playing Skyrim, and thus spazzing about it at work, I've been asked several times what it's about. And you know what? I honestly don't know the answer. You are a dragonborn, a mortal with the soul of a dragon. Because this is an Elder Scroll's game, the "You" in the summary is pretty much whatever you want it to be, from a magic wielding elf to a rogue cat-person to a facestomping orc warrior. As a dragonborn, in any case, your ability is to learn the magic language of the dragons by absorbing their souls. To absorb their souls, you have to kill them. This isn't all bad, though, because dragons are kind of dicks. They burn stuff and kill things just because they're dragons and that's what dragons do. By killing them you're doing the world a good deed. Past the whole dragon thing, there is no definite answer. You can be involved in a civil war, you can be a master thief, you can be a mage... Depending on your play style, Skyrim can be a game about a wood elf who really likes to wander woods and collect flowers, it can be a game about an orc who makes swords with a dream of one day creating a master sword, or it can be the story of an evil dark elf whose dream it is to kill everyone and everything. Skyrim is what you make of it.
If I had to rate Skyrim, which I usually don't do, I'd give it an absolute perfect score. Obviously there are glitches here and there--consider the people who made it--but I don't feel they detract from the game, and even if they do, they'll probably be patched. And some things, which may or may not be glitches, are so awesome I'm pretty okay with them.
Skyrim starts off with you sitting on a cart, riding off to your doom. As your head lays on the chopping block, blood pressed against your face from the guy you just saw die, a dragon is like 'sup' and burns everything. Then you're released into the world to do whatever. Personally, I went the way of the mage, because the magic system is amazing. The duel wielding spell thing is awesome, and at a certain perk in the destruction tree, you literally turn into a human flamethrower with something as simple as the basic fireball spell. That's without going into the awesome summons, the illusion spells, the manipulation! There's a cool rune system, too, which basically creates magical land mines. Oh! And did I mention that, since the Mage's Guild is demolished by the timeline of Skyrim, that necromancy isn't evil anymore? The game's version of the Mage's Guild has a guy who will just flat out sell you a necromancy spell or two as soon as you're in.
As far as magic goes, my favorite spells at the moment are the ice spike, which is exactly what it sounds like, the simple flamethrower fireball you start with, and a summoning spell for a flame atronach that is so completely pretty that I kind if just stared at it for a while and watched it flip around and float. It's also pretty boss when it comes time to take out Giants, but we'll get to that in a little bit.
I personally haven't explored the melee or rogue type characters to the fullest yet, although I've experimented with a cat long enough to know that the night eye power doesn't make everything blue, but I can definitely say that magic is pretty amazing. The only thing I really dislike is the enchanting system, which requires you to already have enchanted items before you can enchant something else. They're not very rare, but the specific types are hard to get. On the bright side, I've heard that the Azura's Star is in this game, so at least the soul gems are here. Haven't heard anything about black soul gems yet, but here's hoping.
Graphically, I honestly can't say anything bad about Skyrim besides the few glitches that show up. Everything is gorgeous, from the rivers to the trees. There are times where I just stop and kind of admire the scenery, from the moons to the colorful lights, to the water. A lot of the scenes look just like paintings, and I love it.
Speaking of water, the little things in this game are what really make it. Stuff like the water pulling you along, and dropping you over rivers. The fact that enemies will fight each other as well as you, if they happen to meet up. The dragons that will just randomly show up. The fact that people you've killed will have families which will hunt you down with thugs. It's all these tiny aspects that make me love Skyrim so much.
The enemies in the game are amazingly fun. From dragons which can show up out of nowhere to the giants which..kind of just win, I don't think I've found an enemy that wasn't neat so far. There are zombies which can use magic, the typical skeletons, giant mammoths which will charge you, wolves, giants... it's an amazing world. And what makes the world even better is the AI that populates some of these creatures. The wolves will attack you in packs at will, but the stronger creatures will...not. They'll warn you off before they attack. Go near a giant's camp, and you'll see one roar and shake his hands at you. I've seen a polar bear that just roared, then went back to its business after I was sufficiently far away. You know what would happen in any other RPG ever? That stupid polar bear would attack and that would be it. I love this system.
As far as Skyrim goes, my favorite moment so far has to have been shortly after I enraged two mammoths into chasing me with a fireball. As they followed me, I stumbled upon a bandit camp. I wish I knew what would have happened had that been it, but shortly upon finding the camp, I noticed that I was being roasted by fire. In searching for a mage of some sort to take out...I noticed the dragon that just landed a few feet away. I ran to a hunt for cover, and happily watched as my three types of enemies tore each other apart until only a wounded mammoth remained.
My least favorite moment so far was killing my first giant. See, the first time I came upon a giant, I had no idea how strong they were. I was quickly backhanded with a club, killed instantly, and the load screen was up before I landed from the launching. Thus, I made it my goal to kill one just because I could. Took me an hour, more summons that I can remember, and a lot of waiting for him to come in range of my perch above him, but I finally killed a giant. And upon close inspection... I kind of felt terrible. They're so peaceful, and just want to live with their mammoths, and I'm a terrible person. ...of course, then I saw how much loot he gave me, and ended up killing three others, but still.
Overall, Skyrim is just an amazing game. I honestly can't find any real major flaws. If you're anything like me, though, Skyrim will take up your entire life for a good few weeks. And if you're anything like me, by which I mean having a job and school, you'll be pining for this game every moment you're not playing. That being said, it is completely and utterly worth it, and I'd definitely suggest picking it up as soon as you can afford it. You will fall in love with this game.