With the second anniversary of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim looming closer, I take a trip down memory lane to replenish my memories of this wonderful game. Filled with glitches and bugs, memorable quotes and stunning views, this is a game that every RPG fanatic needs to play. (Alun Owen, Triple-A reviewer)
Ah. Finally. After waiting months, it had arrived. Skyrim. I still rewind these thoughts in my head, the moment I ripped open the packaging, rammed the disk into my old, battered 360 and wondering ‘Will this crappy console actually support a game with such a big map and breathtaking visuals?’. Thank God, it did, and the moment I stepped into the snowy world, I knew I’d be sucked into it, never to return to Earth. You wake up on a carriage rattling down the hills. What’s happening? Where am I going? Who are these other hairy men with me? These are the exact questions that popped into my head. The one thing I noticed was, once again, you start off as a prison. Good ol’ Bethesda. One of your fellow prisoners talks to you. Apparently, you’ve tried to cross the border, and the Imperials ambushed you, like the others. Damn Imperials. You then enter the military village of Helgen, where you jump off the carriage and line up to be executed. Ulfric Stormcloak, the ‘true’ High King of Skyrim is with you, about to be executed, and a cowardly thief, who tries to make a run for it, but gets shot by the archers. Poor guy. Now, it’s your turn to introduce yourself, and rather bizarrely, customize your face. In front of a guard. Who knows what would be going inside his head? ‘How the hell is this guy changing his race, gender and appearances?! Why are we executing him?! I gotta lay of the Skooma…’. After about half an hour of customizing your face (although you’ll hardly see it throughout the game) it’s your turn to be executed. As you step up to and place your head on the block, surprise surprise, something turns up. And that something is a dragon, the first of many you’ll see. The Dragon basically kills everyone, except you (again, what a surprise) and now it’s your chance to make a dash for it. Phew, that was close! 10 minutes in and I’ve nearly been scorched by a Dragon! After escaping Helgen with either an Imperial solider or a Stormcloak rebel, you’re free to explore this great, snowy world which is Skyrim, and trust me, you’re going to have a hell of a time.
|Words can't describe how amazing this picture is.|
The world of Skyrim is near perfect. Rugged mountains and crumbled Forts dot the map, and the graphics are just wonderful, most of the colours are dull grey but this suits the world perfectly. For the first hour or so, you’ll probably just be walking around aimlessly, taking in this wonder. There’s so much to do, and so many caves and dungeons to explore, each are completely different, something Oblivion didn’t have (nearly all caves from what I recall were nearly exactly the same). The cities are also terrific, from the market city of Whiterun to the corrupt Riften, which hosts the famous Thieves Guild. Amazing creatures also roam the terrain, gigantic Mammoths trod peacefully across the map, unless provoked by a ruthless adventurer, looking for a fight with them (9/10 of the time you’ll be hurled in the air), and many others, like Wolves and Horkers, both easy to slay. This map is near perfect, the only criticism I have is too much snow. Yes, there’s a patch of land where it’s snow-free, but, c’mon Bethesda, we all get fed up of it after a while.
A big new feature in this game are the perks you get when levelling up, and how, thank God, you can’t just jump up and down continuously to get your agility up (although there’s no agility skill in Skyrim). Instead, you get skills like One-Handed and Two-Handed, and when you level up, you can unlock a perk of that category, for example, one perk of the Block skill is you can slow down time when someone hits you, which is pretty damn awesome. You choose what kind of warrior you want to be, how he/she develops is up to you. If you use a Bow most of the time, you’ll see your stats being increased gradually, by hitting your enemies successfully. You start of, obviously, at Level 1, and you build yourself on to the highest level, which is 81. From the first level to Level 50, it’s rather easy to level up, but after 50, it’s hard. Very hard. You’ll need to concentrate on useless skills such as Alchemy, and to raise your skill on Alchemy, you’ll have to spend hours brewing up potions you’ll probably never use. Except for this, the new skill system is brilliant, and is one of the reasons that makes me fall in love with this game.
The game play is fairly similar to Oblivion’s, it’s basically slash ‘n block. One thing that’s added to it are the shouts… FUS RO DAH! Sorry, that had to be said. This shout is your best friend in the game (yes, a lot more helpful than that blasted Lydia). You send your enemy hurling metres up in the air, giving you the chance to get a few hits on them before they wearily stand up again (‘What the hell just happened?’). This shout will be helpful with the many quests that come. How many quests, you ask? A lot, trust me. If you were stupid like me and finished the main quests straight away (I’ve learned now it’s better to take your time), don’t worry, the number of side quests in this game is enormous, and some of these side quests are so memorable, like some of the Dark Brotherhood quests, they’re actually better than some of the main quests. Also, the Daedric quest are just simply amazing. Some side missions will take only a couple of minutes, some will span out for hours.
So, except for the beautiful terrain and the hundreds of quest, could there possibly be anything more awesome. Oh yes, how could I have forgot? The Dragons. The Dragons are the main point of this game, the main quest focusing on the awakening of Alduin, the World Eater, and the attempt of the Dragonborn to stop him. You find out that you’re a Dragonborn, early on in the game, to the amazement of one guard: ‘You’re.. a Dragonborn…’. The main feature of being a Dragonborn is that you can absorb a dead Dragon’s soul, which let’s you unlock shouts you’ve learned by staring at a Word-Wall. You’ll get amazed looks by people when you unleash your true power, or sometimes annoyed guards, telling you to stop because you’re making people nervous, but don’t listen to them, they’re just jealous.
|'I used to be an adventurer like you, but then I took an arrow in the knee'. Excuses...|
So all in all, is Skyrim a good game? Nah, it’s amazing. You’ll be hooked to it, whishing you could be transported to this world. I’ve spent over 300 hours on it, and I still haven’t finished every quest. This is a big leap from Oblivion, and in the right direction, and nearly two years since its release, I still never get bored by this truly fantastic game.