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Friday, Nov. 18, 2011

Elder Scrolls: Skyrim Review

10 out of 10

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Having not gotten into the other Elder Scrolls games, I hoped against hope that I'd be able to jump into Skyrim without feeling lost. Thankfully, that's exactly how I felt. While the makers of the game clearly provide a number of treats for people who've played the previous games, Skyrim stands alone.

In more ways than one.

It's not hyperbole to say this is the best RPG game I've played in a long, long time. And when I give this a 10, I'm not saying it's perfect. Some of the quests are classic “go fetch” quests. Some of the environments have a tendency to “appear” as you move closer. Some of the characters are foolish and some of them suffer from a few glitches (once, a massive bear followed me into an inn—holy crap!—and then got stuck inside a pillar).

But this game. Is. Fantastic. From the very beginning, when you're saved from certain death by a dragon, the tone is set. You start out slow and get acclimated to the combat and magic system, and you're allowed to choose your race and abilities. Some purists will find that the inventory and ability choices have been watered down, but there's plenty of complexity for those who want it without sacrificing ease of use that a lot of gamers prefer.

The story is easy to get into: you are a dragonborn. It's up to you to rid the world of dragons. As you move on, you learn about the land and the people and more story slowly unfolds. Side quests provide more stories and help flesh out the world. You can develop magic or stick with simply hitting your enemies with really big weapons. Your character, while not fully developed like in Dragon Age 2, gets the job done.

Early on in the game, I was sent to investigate an attack on a tower just outside one of the towns. Suddenly, a man came bursting out of the tower, screaming that the dragon would kill us all. Sure enough, from above came a roar and moments later, my crew and I were attempting to take down one of the massive creatures as it flew high above. I thought to myself, “Well, I'll just let my companions take it down a peg or two.” Seconds later, the dragon landed and at one of the companions.

Well. “I guess it's up to me,” I thought. And so with my trusty axe and a Resist Fire potion, I went to work.

Expect fights like these from time to time because, well, dragons are back. And they've got attitude, too. In addition to the fine story, you can expect fantastic graphics that really help the land of Skyrim come to life. You can expect plenty of variety and plenty of side-quests that reward you for exploring this interesting land of the north. The music? Could have been a little better. But it's just such a nitpicky thing that I couldn't bring myself to dock the game's score.

Explore the land. Talk to the interesting folk. Solve murders. Fight the Empire. Save the Empire. Hunt. Cook. Make potions. Tan some hides. Pick fights. Buy a house. Get married.

But watch out for dragons.
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