Posted on Saturday, November 19th, 2011 at 11:03 AM by Raymond Newell
The Elder Scrolls. When I say, or shout that to you, what do you envisage? Sweeping lands of beauty? Dungeon crawling your way through the massive single-player? 2D sprites and about a million NPC’s (non-playable characters) you can interact with? Every iteration of The Elder Scrolls brings a new perspective on the game and on a wider scale, your life. Your job/girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband/kids go straight out the window, now only Bethesda’s masterpiece means anything to you. I even remember reading a post on the Bethesda forums a day after release asking one of life’s greatest questions: “How do I get Skyrim off my wife and still get laid?” The modding community goes nuts, another Bethesda game to edit! Under a week from release one mod has been downloaded 100,000 times. 250,000 people were playing the game on steam at release day alone. There is a reason for this.
There is a legacy that The Elder Scrolls has left, starting with a small and very hard game on Microsoft DOS (disk operating system) called The Elder Scrolls: Arena. You can download that game for free at http://www.elderscrolls.com/arena/ though you will need a DOS emulator to run it. It became an instant hit with the hardcore RPG players which were some of the more common gamers at the time, showing that even the west could make a massive, challenging masterpiece. Even though it had no icon, no big name legend in gaming on the front of the box, all of the sequels sold; even if they did run into a bit of financial trouble before the stunning 3D world in Morrowind.
The reason Elder Scrolls didn’t have a figurehead is because it is your own game, you can make it what you want to within reason. You can be a rebellious handsome Nord, hunted by the Imperials for joining the Rebels and massacring all of their troops using only a blunt sword; or you can be a well mannered Elf, just trying to get by in a world full of tyrants, making a name for himself by being an expert blacksmith, even though on the inside he is a softie who just wants to save up for a house, meet the girl of his dreams, marry her and kill dragons. Unfortunately the dragon massacre is part of the structure so I would not recommend getting this game if you are a die hard fictional-animal rights activist, or if you think imaginary creatures that have nothing but an urge to devour you and your chums should be treated well, given free homes and carefully tended to.
The combat mechanics in Skyrim are perfect, you can have fun and slay dragons, whether you have a battleaxe or balls of fire in your hands. The controls felt a bit slow and imprecise but after several hours going through the game you get the precision pinpointed right down to a tee, with a brilliant lock-picking system returning from The Elder Scrolls V: Oblivion and several Fallout games. The all-new favourites menu helps you swiftly select another spell, or if you are out of magicka switch to your trusty melee weapon or bow without having to go into your inventory and sort it out like that, making otherwise awkward moments that interrupt the flow of battle into a even faster paced and more exciting experience with a maelstrom of guards, wizards and the undead clawing at your face even more rapidly! How delightful does that sound?
The main quest, a big hook for many, is magnificent and will make you choose between not right and wrong but your perception of it, with many grey areas in there for added confusion, not for the weak willed with an attention span of 5 minutes before setting something on fire. The basis is you are a dragonborn, this kind of guy who from what I can gather by Skyrim’s citizens’ constant gasps and asking “Is that really him/her?” This dragonborn seems to have a knack for dragons, especially murdering them and collecting their souls to shout at people and things, which makes said things and people fly and fall over and do various other things depending on which of these shouts you unlock. Back onto the main quest, there are 2 main factions you can join. These are the crumbling Imperials who are starting to lose a grip on their land and the rebels who hope to have some freedom of the tyranny by rising against the Imperials. Whichever side you choose will pave the way for the rest of the story and the outcome of the war between the 2 factions.
You can also join Guilds as a side adventure. Each one focuses on a different proficiency. For example: Winterhold College is a school of magic for mage classes, but you could also join the Dark Brotherhood, a shady group of assassins that pay you to kill less beastly targets than you will be required to do in the main quest. The side quests are very expansive and can help get a leg up on your enemies, offering a fair amount of game time. Not a game to lightly skim around the edges.
Bethesda sticks to the no multiplayer for multiplayer’s sake format. Even though some form of playing this game with your friends would be gladly appreciated, the game does give the feeling of company with all of it’s NPCs; be it a novice guard who you cannot interact in any significant way with or the Imperial leader who is commanding and intimidating to even the most battle hardened of soldiers. Nobody creates an interactive world quite like Bethesda, and what a world they have created.
Sweeping lakes, twisting rivers and the highest mountains make this game look stunning. Even those who have a psychopathic hate of the white stuff (snow, not milk or the other thing you thought of, disgusting man!) will fail to not fall in love with this world. Even if finding a way to climb up a mountain is stressful, especially when you find an actual road leading up it when you finish the great climb. Bethesda have accepted that more people will want to roam freely and you can find a way from point A to point B, regardless of the terrain in your path; which is a big step up from when you were led along paths in Fallout: New Vegas.
Never before have I said there are too many perfect games coming out. The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim may not be perfect, with it’s bugs and glitches; however it’s unbelievably close and nevertheless perfection does not make it a 10. Charm, wit, elegance, beauty and making you love it does, which is what Skyrim manages to execute so perfectly.
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