Recently I’ve been playing the newest release from the Elder Scrolls series, Skyrim. I’ve always been a fan of Bethesda’s stuff. The first game that I fell in love with on the XBOX 360 just so happened to be Oblivion. What a game. That was almost six years ago and, to be honest, I’d been missing a bit of sword play. Well, Skyrim doesn’t fail to live up to the stellar reputation of the Elder Scrolls series and, this time, there are dragons.
Who doesn’t like a bit of dragon slaying, right? I mean, those big s.o.bs fly around in the sky thinking they’re all that whilst we silly little humans have to scurry around on our two legs. Not cool. There’s really no better feeling than slaughtering one of those winged reptiles and Skyrim gives you a brilliant selection of weapons from daggers to war hammers, so every playing style’s catered for. Personally, I love a good bow-n-arrow. There’s something worryingly satisfying about sniping a bad guy from distance with an arrow right between the eyes. It’s also shocking as to how many people suffer arrow related knee injuries throughout the world of Skyrim, something to watch out for I guess.
There’s a lot to do around Skyrim and it’s not just the dragons that will keep you occupied. Though they will constantly rear their scaly, ugly heads – usually at the most inappropriate moments. There are hundreds of quests to complete for hundreds of different characters, each with their own back story and reasons for requesting your help. Unlike many RPGs, Skyrim isn’t entirely driven by the main quest. Sure, it’s important to the story, but Skryim has a lot of strings to its bow and the main quest is only one of them. Even the most obscure of miscellaneous side missions can be enjoyable. One side quest saw me helping the chief of a group of Rieklings (these odd little tribal fellows that resemble a dwarf crossed with a smurf). Mayhem ensued and, eventually, I became their chief. Bethesda has a habit of crossing intense story lines with odd bits of backhanded humour – and they do it well.
For me, one of the most important aspects of a good RPG is character customization. Bethesda has had years of practice in the customizing of characters, they’ve created thousands of them over the years and helped us to create thousands more. Skyrim gives you a wide range of character customization choices, from the characters race (choose from the Viking like Nord to the half man, half cat, Khajiit) to their body size, hair style, and awesomeness of beard. Not only this but the different combinations of armour and weaponry gives you more choice of customization than you could shake an enchanted battle axe at. You can even choose if your character becomes a werewolf or a vampire … or neither, depending on your persuasion towards the undead.
There are so many aspects of Skyrim that I truly love. The breathtaking scenery, immense cave systems, towering trees and babbling brooks all work together to bring Tamriel to life. This icy wonderland can keep you occupied for hours, the main quest alone will have you adventuring for over fifteen. But, if you combine the main quest with the side quests and countless miscellaneous missions (oh and don’t forget the three recent add-ons) then you’re looking at … well … over 50 hours of game play. I think a safe bet would be 60 hours, so, if we say the game itself (with the add-ons) will cost you £60, that’s £1 per hour. Not a bad deal, right?
But, I guess if you’re twisting my arm, there are one or two bad bits. Like the occasional lags, graphic cock-ups and inconsistent NPC’s. I’m going to give you a few examples of what I’m talking about. When I first purchased the game it was, as always, littered with bugs. One major flaw was my inability to complete the ‘Mage’s Guild’ quests. They fixed the problem, but only if you started a new save. I was already at level 20; I couldn’t be bothered to start again. But, now that I’m level 53, I wanted something else to do with my time (after completing all of the main and side quests, plus the add-ons) so I thought that I’d collect the ‘Dragon Priest Masks’. Little did I know that the final mask can only be retrieved during one of the Mages Guild quests. Cue rage quit. Shall we go for a second example? I spent almost two hours of game play with my follower asking me, “can I help you, friend?” every five seconds. I tried talking to them but there was no, “yes you can help me, please shut up” dialogue choice as she was, apparently, integral to the plot … and my annoyance.
That being said, I still braved the flaws because, to be perfectly honest, it was well worth the slight frustration. Skyrim was by far my game of 2011, I continued to play it through 2012 and I’m still playing it in 2013. I can’t think of another game that I’ve played that has spanned into three years. Usually, by now, I’ve gotten so angry at COD that I’ve attempted to burn the disk and so frustrated with FIFA that I’ve considered sending EA an angry letter (to be honest they must have received quite a few in their time, FIFA is stupidly annoying). So, if you’re looking for a game that is guaranteed to take up your weekends, then look no further, Skyrim’s your number one choice. If you’re looking for some lighter play then I’d suggest buying a Wii, you’ll be bored of that within a few hours.