The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim - The Best Game Ever?

Skyrim, released on 11/11/11 by Bethesda Game Studios, might just be the most enjoyable game that I have ever played. After purchasing the game for more than one system and logging well over two hundred hours into the game collectively, I definitely have some clear opinions on many aspects of the game ranging from the visuals, to the voice acting of the games many NPCs. For many, including myself, Skyrim may be the best game that is out there for hardcore and casual gamers alike to purchase and in this review I will focus on what makes it such a fantastic game overall.

GRAPHICS & VISUALS/SOUND

Upon its release, Skyrim had some of the most stunning visuals available at the time. You could go exploring through vast plains and meadows, or you could find yourself exploring deep caves and dungeons fighting off Drauger and other monsters hidden away in the shadows. Lets start with the graphics and art styling of the game.

The predecessor of Skyrim, Oblivion, had quite a unique graphical styling but is very different when compared to Skyrim. Skyrim has a medieval style to it, which makes the game very beautiful. Exploring Whiterun especially really gave off a very special medieval charm. The squares, the street vendors, the inns, and Dragonsreach are really all perfect. While walking through the city, one can see many street stalls where various traders will offer different goods to you ranging from metals to meats and other food. The streets appear to be a type of paved cobblestone, which fits with this medieval theme. The architecture in Whiterun, as well as the whole game for that matter, is quite astounding. Most buildings in the game have a finely detailed inside as well as outside which really pulls the whole appearance together. The styling of some of the homes in Whiterun, such as the Breezehome which is a property able to be purchased by the player for a sum of five thousand gold, remind me of older styled German homes that feature wooden beams built into the exterior walls. The fine detail of a lot of the buildings in the game give off a very strong renaissance-esque feel where people took great pride in creating fantastic art and architecture. I found this to make the game overall very attractive.

The lighting in any game is hands down the most important aspect of its graphics and can very well impact the end-user experience greatly. In this game, I never found myself in a situation where I was particularly frustrated because I was unable to see something because it was too dark, or where I was unable to see anything because it was just way too bright. Skyrim seems to balance both of these elements quite perfectly. From my playing experience, Skyrim seems to run on an auto-adjusting light system to balance out the lighting. If you are running around in the fields hunting for deer in the fields surrounding Whiterun and you’re looking down at the ground for whatever reason but then decide to quickly look up towards the sun, your character’s vision will adjust almost like it would in reality. Your field of vision will appear bright at first but then will slowly adjust to a more neutral daytime lighting. In a different situation, maybe you are running through a dark dungeon and suddenly a fireball rushes past your face, the fireball will light up your field of vision as well as the surrounding area as your character’s eyes adjust to this new source of light just as they would in reality. This system seems to work fine and I enjoy it a lot because it makes the graphics and shadows very appealing and attractive.

Now taking a look at the NPCs (Non-Player Controlled or Artificial Intelligence) that Skyrim has to offer to us. This is where the game’s graphics start to drift from that sense of realism. The AI in this game seem to have almost cartoonish looks to their faces however, they still appear very nice. Unfortunately, one major issue with the faces of the AI is that they may appear a little “blocky” at some points, which isn’t too attractive. This can also be noticed at some points on rocks and mountain ranges throughout the game however, this only happens on certain occasions and I am not sure if this is a bug issue or not but really in the end, it does not take away from the game all that much. Something that can be a bit odd is the movement of the AI. Sometimes they can glitch through objects or just have flat out awkward stances or gestures. If you pay enough attention to their feet when the move around a little while you are talking to them, you can see them kind of slide and shuffle a bit which is a bit, strange, to say the least. In the end though, these minor setbacks that the NPC’s have really does not take a huge toll on the game at all.

Skyrim offers a very audible experience, which personally I love. Throughout the entire game you will hear lots of mandolin and lute music played in the background not to mention the music the bards will play for a few gold pieces in local inns. The main menu features a great choir piece about the “dragonborn” which is the main character (you) in the story. This piece, I promise, will be stuck in your head forever and every time your game starts up you will begin to either sing or mouth the words and phrases. General sounds play a huge role in the game as well as the game heavily relies on what is known by “shouts” which the player uses to perform many different special powers and well, without good sound, these shouts wouldn’t sound nearly as powerful as they do. The sound is also very important because of all of the noises created by all of the different creatures that can be heard from the hooves of a horse taking you across the map or the mighty roar of a dragon above you. The music and audio in this game is just flawless in my opinion and I love it.

Overall the graphics for Skyrim are quite stunning and very visually appealing to the eyes of most players. When I play this game, the graphics add an essence to the game that truly brings players in and immerses them in the experience and it allows them to do lots of exploring around the world, which is very fun, and most players enjoy it. The music and other audio are absolutely fantastic and it is perhaps the best I have ever seen in any game, and I have played lots and lots of different video games. You will be truly immersed into this medieval world once you hear and see what this game has to offer you.

STORY

The storyline of Skyrim is branching and virtually never ending. When I played the game, the beginning seemed a little bland to me due to the fact that I was not fully able to grasp what was actually going on at the time. After replaying the beginning, I became very interested and hooked into the game. For spoiler purposes I will not give anything away about the story but I will simply tell you that it is very amazing. The story offers you many choices, which make it branching, and there are multiple possible outcomes to the main quest-lines. One thing that I got attached to right away with this game were all of the Misc. quests available for you to do. These allow you to basically ignore the main story completely and run off in the other direction to do something that can be totally different. This is one aspect of the game that makes Skyrim, Skyrim. You can do whatever you truly want whenever you really want. The game is completely open-world. I have logged over 220 hours into the Xbox 360 version of this game and there is still more quests than I can imagine for me to do. I am nowhere even close to finishing the game, which is something amazing. The game is definitely worth all of the money that you pay for it because there is so much to do and you can basically keep playing it forever.

The story to this game is just amazing and while some parts of the quests can be slightly predictable, it is ridiculous to see all of the work that Bethesda had put into this game with all of the voice-acted quests in the game. It really just makes you want to sit back for a few minutes and take it all in and really appreciate all of it. This game is especially great for those that don’t always want to follow the main quest line and just want to go off and do whatever they want on their own.

IN-GAME ECONOMY

In The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, the currency is gold pieces that are also called Septims named after one of the old emperors of Tamriel. If you are new to the series, Tamriel is the continent that Skyrim is a part of. Gold is relatively easy to get throughout the entire game. From almost all quests you can acquire great sums of gold for accomplishing different goals. If you are feeling a bit sneaky, you can always be a thief and go around and try to pickpocket gold off of people around Skyrim. While exploring dungeons around the world, you can easily find chests filled with gold along with all sorts of other loot. Along with all of these, you can also enlist in mercenary work, become an assassin, or even become a mage to gain even more gold from quests that are only available to people within these groups.

In Skyrim you can use your Septims to go around and purchase all sorts of different types of goods from traders all around the entire map. You can also sell goods and other treasures that you have collected and acquired to traders around the world as another source of Septims. To get the maximum price for your goods, you will have to work very hard to level up your speech. If you do this, traders around Skyrim will offer you more gold for all your goods.

In Skyrim, it is essential that you always have a good base level of gold because without it, you could end up finding yourself in some pretty rough situations if you have absolutely no money to purchase any goods that you may need.

MOD SUPPORT

Perhaps the most amazing thing to ever happen to the gaming world is mods made from third parties. If you thought that Skyrim was already amazing, just wait to see what other people have added to the game through mods. Sadly, these mods are only easily accessible for the PC version of the game. There are thousands of mods that are made for this game including graphical enhancements to brand new quest lines, including some that are equal to, if not better, than the quests available for the vanilla version of the game. For anyone that is not familiar with modding games, the “vanilla” version of a game refers to the unmodded version of it. Mods on Skyrim run wonderfully and while some can cause your game to occasionally crash, I have never had any of my mods slow down my overall game performance unlike games like Minecraft where the more mods you have, the lower FPS you will get. This modding community adds a much larger reason to buy the game. Even if somehow you manage to invest three quarters of your life into finishing this game, you will still have thousands of mods available to keep your Skyrim experience lasting for many more hours to come. This is one reason that I would also recommend you purchase the PC version of this game as the Xbox 360 and PS3 version of the game do not have mod support.

OVERALL EXPERIENCE

Skyrim could just be the most immersive game that I have ever played in my entire life. The graphics and audio as mentioned earlier really add a huge amount of content to the game and make it very interesting and it makes you feel as though you truly are a part of the action in the game which is something that many games attempt to do but no many are actually able to achieve it. Skyrim is a game that in my opinion is flawless. I promise that you will enjoy this game. It was the game of the year and it received many awards for a reason. It simply is fantastic.

DOWNLOADABLE CONTENT

Bethesda Game Studios offers three downloadable content packages for Skyrim. Dawngaurd, Hearthfire, and Dragonborn. Dawngaurd offers a few new areas to the map of Skyrim and it also adds a brand new quest line involving hunting vampires. Dawngaurd personally was my favorite DLC pack for Skyrim. The quest line was fantastic and very interesting. Skyrim does something interesting where you could be on one quest and then that quest could send you on two other side quests and it can end up just being one long trail of different things for you to accomplish within the game just do complete the one quest you were originally on. When I played Dawngaurd, I had gotten this experience and I found it very enjoyable as it offered me many new things to get done.

Hearthfire, the second DLC pack delivered by Bethesda Game Studios for Skyrim offered players the ability to become the thane of different cities in the game. Once you become the thane of these cities, you have the ability to purchase large plots of land just outside of these cities where you can build your very own house. From what I can remember, this pack allows you to build three different homes. I found this pack to be very enjoyable because the customization options for your home are very nice and adding your own touch to a game like Skyrim is very nice.

Dragonborn, the third and final DLC pack offered by Bethesda Game Studios for Skyrim gave players the chance to travel to an island that is a bit off the coast of Skyrim. Here you are able to face off in a grand battle with another dragonborn. If you win the fight, you are able to collect all of the dragon souls that he has. (It is about thirty or so dragon souls) This pack is very fun but I do not think I enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed the first two DLC packs for the game.

Overall, all of the downloadable content packs offered for Skyrim are very enjoyable and are definitely worth the money that you invest into them. If these DLC packs aren’t enough for you, there are always thousands of mods that you are able to use for your game.

IN-GAME ITEMS

Skyrim offers many very cool and interesting items for players to use. Ranging from weapons to different types of armor. At forges that you are able to find in almost every city in the game, you can craft and improve armor and weapons. If you use forges enough, your smithing level will increase. If you get your smithing level high enough, you will be able to craft new types of armor and weapons that are not available any other way in the game. This includes the strongest and perhaps the best-looking armor type in the game, Daedric Armor. The amount of different items that you may find while exploring all of Skyrim is truly insane.

CONCLUSION

To start to wrap up my very long review of Skyrim, I just want to briefly go over everything mentioned in the review. When Skyrim was released, its graphics were without a doubt, the best available on the market. Every time I play the game, I am almost taken away to an imaginary world where I am the dragonborn and where I fight off dragons and all other sorts of different monsters and evil. The medieval styling of the game is absolutely beautiful and on Bethesda’s part, it was a very smart choice of them to make. The music in this game, I believe perfects this medieval feel and it almost gives the game a bit of a renaissance-esque feel.

The story to Skyrim is probably the most interesting story I have ever seen in any game ever. The story is branching and due to the fact that Skyrim is an open-world game, it offers lots of different quests for you to play through. You can put hundreds of hours into this game and still have more quests to do.

The in-game economy in this game is done perfectly. You use gold to buy goods from traders all over Skyrim. You also sell your goods around Skyrim to receive gold, which adds a sense of realism to the game as well. Around the world, you can find all sorts of different items and treasures that can get you large sums of gold. On top of this, simply completing quests can get you lots of gold and it will most likely be how you make most of your money.

This game has fantastic mod support that allows you to add tons of new content to your game aside from what Bethesda Game Studios offers you with their downloadable content. If somehow you manage to completely finish Skyrim, you can add countless hours of things to do in your game with all sorts of different mods.

My overall experience with this game has been completely flawless. I have loved every second of playing this game. I personally haven’t encountered anything that has made upset because the game wasn’t good enough. I have enjoyed everything about this game and love everything about it. This game just has so much to offer to all of its players.

To finally conclude, I would give Skyrim a 10/10 review, which many other places and gaming experts have already before. I would highly recommend this game to anyone, especially anyone that enjoys RPG or fantasy oriented games. Also if you have played any of The Elder Scrolls games but haven’t played Skyrim yet, what’re you doing with your life? Go on out and buy this game, you definitely will not regret it at all.

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