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Platform

Xbox 360

 

Genre

Role-Playing

 

Publisher

Bethesda Game Studios

 

Developer

Bethesda Softworks

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

November 11, 2011

 

 

- Time to play fantasy land tourist!

- Dragon battles are pretty damn awesome

- Combat is great, without distracting completely from the role-playing elements

- Layers of stuff to do

- Looks amazing in some spots

 

 

- All that open-endedness can be kind slightly crippling

 

 

Review: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (PS3)

Review: Mass Effect 2 (PS3)

Review: Dark Souls (360)

Review: Sudeki (XB)

 

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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Score: 9.0 / 10

 

skyrim          skyrim

 

I didn't think it was actually possible.

 

Aaron wrote about the crippling nature of choice in his review of Mass Effect 2 -- the thought that one wrong choice could possibly lead to a horrible result -- but that seemed wholly connected to conversation system and those kinds of choices. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim actually managed the same thing with it's world, a point I was kind of expecting given all the preview coverage that quoted director Todd

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Howard saying, "See the top of that mountain? You can go there." Still, it was a bit of a surprise to literally have so many choices and places to go right the get-go and not really start with any kind of solid direction.

Sprawling and possibly it's most-realized world to date, Bethsda's Skyrim is one of those games that a player could easily lose herself. The game actually does

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a pretty good job of keeping a player on-track with the obvious story objectives, but there were more than a few times I wandered so far off the story path I wondered if I'd ever get back to it. I craved just a little of Valve Software's "amusement park ride" sensibility, where the rails are hidden as the story moves forward. Skyrim is like stepping off the boat in Pirates of the Caribbean and talking to the animatronic people to see if there's anything you can help with or some rare item they might need collected. Eventually, one has to think, "How the hell do I get back on the boat?" It doesn't help when you find out that the ride actually connects to The Haunted Mansion via a dark, ghoul-infested tunnel.

 

skyrim          skyrim

 

You can't really help but do some exploring. The game looks so amazing with all sorts of detail, including a weather, that poking around after a climatic dragon fight is the perfect way to unwind. When you're not dealing with flora or fauna, it's actually pretty peaceful, which is something I think Skyrim's precursor Oblivion managed quite well.

And as peaceful as the place is, the combat is intense. From what I remember of Oblivion, the combat is like night and day. I felt far more connected to what was happening on-screen -- Skyrim's a definite step up from the traditional "number stab" execution of so many games in this genre, where there's a palpable lack of connection between sword strikes and what's happening on-screen aside from a damage number popping up.

 

skyrim           skyrim

 

Though I favoured the first-person view when facing off against one or two enemies, the third-person view has been much improved over Oblivion (it wouldn't take much) and even over the Fallout games comes in really handy when tackling the dragons. Those fights are mostly epic and the speed of these fights necessitates a wider view to track them.

No doubt Bethesda will be supporting Skyrim long after its initial release and with such a huge canvas to work with, I'm already looking forward to the characters and stories that will come along. Everything else is in place -- the combat, the magic, the environments, the dragons -- just give me more stories, of which there are, admittedly, many of already. That's what I love about these open-world role-playing games -- a feeling of place, excitement, and beauty that has as many stories to explore as you want.

Skyrim's pretty damn awesome.

- D.D. Nunavut

(November 10, 2011)

 

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