Just a quick note to say that I have not yet finished the game and have only managed to get in about 30hrs of gameplay. I know I’ll get a lot of haters on this but seriously, the game really is that freaking big.
Oblivion burst onto consoles in the Spring of 2006. I remember being so amazed by the images I saw online and the intense hunger for a good long RPG, that I rushed out to pick up Oblivion the day it hit shelves. I was both impressed and unhappy at the same time. The Environments looked incredible but the characters all looked spectacularly brutal. I swear each character was only 2 generations removed from Apes walking upright. The gameplay itself was an RPG using a First Person Shooter Perspective which I found to be a little cumbersome, I was always getting lost and every single town I entered wanted me dead or to toss me in jail due to my own ignorance. The sheer size of the game also soured me on the whole experience because it was new and I had never before seen anything so big in a game….but after playing through Fallout 3 and New Vegas, I’m a new man and an old pro at exploring vast worlds…
***Possible Spoiler Alert – Scroll down to avoid***
The game starts off with a cart full of prisoners as they’re being taken to a fort to be executed. Once in the town, the player gets off the cart and begins their character customization. Right off the bat I noticed a remarkable improvement on the character models. From there we get to witness the execution of a prisoner when he’s laid down and beheaded with his head dropping into a basket and his lifeless body being kicked to the side. It’s now your turn to face the hold steel of the executioners blade when out of nowhere, a Dragon lands on a house and begins attacking and destroying the town thus leaving you to your own devices to escape and learn some of the fundamentals of the game which pretty well plays very similarly to it’s predecessor and the true beginning of your quest.
The story is not a direct sequel to Oblivion so much as it takes place a few hundred years later after the Empire began relinquishing territories to the Elven nations because there was no heir to the throne following the Emperors death. The player eventually learns that Skyrim’s civil war is last prophetic event foretold by the Elder Scrolls, which also speak of the return the Nordic god of destruction, Alduin.
Taking the form of a dragon, Alduin is prophesied to consume the world with his servants, the Jills (a race of black dragons). The player character is the last Doväkiin (Dragonborn), a dragon hunter anointed by the gods to help fend off the threat Alduin poses to Skyrim and Tamriel.
***End of Possible Spoiler***
***EDIT***Here’s an extra special follow-up post for all the people whose comments both made me laugh and shake my head. But let’s soldier on good reader. You’ve asked for more detail so here we go.
I will admit , that there is an aspect of the game that I found to be enjoyable though I’m not sure if it was a feature in previous games and I forgot to report back on it – Sue me I’m only human and do this for fun purely based on my love of all things videogames. That aspect of the game I speak of is called “Smithing”. Very early on in the game (right after the escape from the Dragon that’s destroying the town from the beginning***Ooops Spolier Alert!***) the player is introduced to Smithing of weapons and armor. Smithing requires a proficiency in working with various metals such as Iron and using animal hides to make leather in order to make repair, augment and improve weapons and armor. All it really requires are the right ingredients using the forge, the grinding stone, then applying augments to it(where applicable) on the workbench. A minor gripe I have with the Smithing is that it’s unfortunate that it’s not more like a mini-game or had some form of user creation tool to give each weapon/armor a personal touch. Off to the Gallows with me!
Next up is the control scheme – The controls are pretty well just like Fallout 3. Analogue sticks should be self explanatory – Push up and you move forward – Back and you move backward, Left and right strafe. The right stick turns the character. Press down on LS and you crouch, press down on RS and it changes the camera to a 3rd person perspective. B button opens the tree menu with skills, items, map and magic. The Skill tree is laid out as though looking at constellations – beneath each skill, the user can see the features of each skill and the path they take. IE: The first level of Smithing starts off with proficiency in crafting with Iron as you progress and hone your skills, you’ll eventually be able to create Dragon Armor. X button draws your weapon and puts it away. A button interacts with people or takes items and Y button jumps. Right trigger swings your weapon where the Left trigger guards unless you have magic equipped in which case, you can hold the left trigger to charge up your spell and release it to cast. LB sprints and only last as long as your Stamina will allow and RB shouts/power moves. Pretty standard fare.
As I said before, and was lambasted for, the map is huge. It very easily dwarfs Fallout. I haven’t yet even seen all of it and it appears to be considerably larger with more destinations to visit and it can take what seems like forever to go from point A to B. Thankfully there is a fast travel option as well as a stable you can go to and pay for a ride or…you can be a total bastard and steal a horse risking life, limb, gold and freedom in the process.
The graphics for Skyrim are a vast improvement over Oblivion and Fallout but still not on the same level as something like Rage’s iD Tech 5(which I find to be one of the sexiest new engines out there right now). The new “Creation Engine” is a variant of the same engine used for Oblivion and Fallout but it’s no slouch. The environments are lush and lively as expected in this type of game, the animations are smooth and the characters look awesome, however, I didn’t care for how the horses looked while riding them to different locales. When walking over a rock, for example, the horse will just jump up over the rock and fall back down on the other side – I found it to look very unnatural. Surprisingly Skyrim all fits onto one disc and the load times are reasonably short (I can’t speak for the load times when running off disc)I love the way the weather systems look in this game. The weather effects in the game look awesome, in particular in the snowy regions though I did notice that no tracks were left behind. Aside from those minor complaints, everything in the world just feels to be more alive.
I actually encountered a bug when I encountered 2 different NPCs – When trying to interact with them, they don’t actually say anything and the subtitles I have turned on whip by without giving me the opportunity to read what’s going on. My immediate thought was my controller was acting up but, this has happened with 4 different controllers – it appears that this is not a controller issue. Time will tell if this is a common issue Keep an eye out and let us know if you encounter the same thing. Sad Bear face!
The audio is awesome – when I have the luxury of having it turned up loud (the man cave is below my daughter’s room), the bustling sounds of a city, the serenity nature and the ferocity of violent battles really adds to atmosphere. The soundtrack is fantastic, well timed and placed throughout. As expected from Bethesda, there’s an insane amount of spoken dialogue, some spoken by celebrities like Max Von Sydow, and Christopher Plummer.
The game is quite challenging especially at the beginning. I’m one of those guys that loves to run in guns-a-blazing (swords-a-swinging in this case) and as I quickly learned that’s just not how to play this game. This is an adventure game that takes it’s time to tell a story and build and I am taking my sweet time plodding through avoiding the main quest for the most part for the time being. I’ve put a great deal of emphasis on Lock picking for all the obvious reasons, Smithing to have the best weapons and armor, Heavy weapons to deal the most damage and speech to help with persuading people and save some precious gold when buying items – Anything to try and help me get the leg up on this game.
This title is sure to eat up countless hours well into the new year.
In my previous post I stated that the amount of time I had with the game was extremely limited in the grand scheme of things and that I wasn’t a fan of Oblivion assuming you could read between the lines (I didn’t finish it even after repeated attempts – I disliked it that much) but it seems that’s not the case. Also, the hate I get for rating something a 9 out of 10 is staggering (I just might be Public Enemy #1).
Yes! Online is important to me and I would love to see co-op in a game f this magnitude- No it’s not a deal breaker. Yes those are my views and opinions – No it doesn’t make my opinion right. Yes I see your side – No it doesn’t make your opinion right. No I won’t be changing my original score.
It’s a 9 out of 10 game.