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LTTP: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim PC Review

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LTTP or ‘late to the party’ pieces are opportunities for me to catch up and write about games I missed out on the first time around. They may contain spoilers.

Finally. I’ve called The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim quits after 73 hours of flailing, running, hiding and general awkwardness. I fell for Bethesda’s impressive walkthroughs and trailers. I was also convinced to keep the game after hearing all the nice things people have expressed.

There were numerous individual pieces that I liked and loved in Skyrim. The wilderness of Skyrim was easily the most breath taking landscapes in gaming. It wasn’t only because it was so immense, it was also the details ranging from butterflies and caribou to the picturesque splendors of streams and lakes. Despite the many hours that I’ve spent looking up at the beautiful sky box, I was still amazed when the night sky turned into an aurora borealis light show.

I like shiny things, so when I could conjure up sparkly spells and other effects with my hands, I dove right into the destruction spell line of magicks. The spell casting reminded me of BioShock’s plasmids and if I could have a bit of BioShock in Skyrim: why not?

The more spell casting I did, the stronger I was becoming which was a result of Skyrim’s use based leveling system. I appreciated the free form character building because it allowed me to sample all the different play styles and game mechanics early on. I would even label it as a crucial feature because I doubt I would have stuck with Skyrim if I only experienced the sword and shield and never picked up the bow and arrow along with magic.

Aside from what I mentioned above, I was underwhelmed with just about every interactive moment, set piece and gameplay mechanic in Skyrim.

Sword fighting never felt right at all; I felt detached and thought I was wielding wooden swords and foam maces instead of deadly medieval weapons. But as poor as that aspect of the combat was, the bouts featuring fisticuffs were even more embarrassing. Watching my lass flail her arms against a ruffian was only entertaining for the first several seconds.

I tolerated combat with bows and magic a bit longer, but scenarios I encountered were never interesting or diverse enough to warrant tactics outside of hiding until the words “Hidden” told me it was okay to unleash my next attack. To describe the enemy A.I as rudimentary would be kind. The “stealth” mechanics favored high numbers and not reality. At one point, I could literally be less than 10 paces away from an enemy in a well lit room and he/she would still miss me.

Tedious would be an accurate descriptor for a majority of the encounters. I got so fed up with fighting bandits that I stopped entering caves that I stumbled across because I didn’t want to deal with the monotony.

I initially believed aimlessly wandering around Skyrim will net me some wonderful adventures and treasures. Eight hours in, I was still stumbling across caves filled with bandits, spiders and little treasure. I wouldn’t mind exploring these caves and ruins if they had any redeeming values, but they did not. They were usually filled with cramped hallways and the same rotation of puzzles and traps. I wasn’t finding anything new and worthwhile; I was growing bored.

The main quest line and the other secondary quests were a nice mix of exploration and story progression. I was learning more and more about being a Dragonborn and how an old world eating dragon was coming to ruin everyone’s day.

The secondary quests like the ones for the “Thieves’ Guild” and the “Mages’ College” gave a bit more context and provided more narrative twists than the typical “slay X for the NPC” quest. But I didn’t feel they were worthwhile at all. I wasn’t amazed by any of their stories; I actually found them run of the mill.

I did appreciate the fact that I could end a line of quest prematurely simply because I didn’t like the NPC. None of the decisions ever became dire or made me second guess myself, but in a world where I could persuade bitter rivals to come together for peace talks thanks to my high Speech rating, I didn’t expect anything controversial in the slightest.

I did expect the fights with the newly resurrected dragons to be more challenging and epic than they ended being. The key to success was to find cover and unless I was in the open field, it wasn’t too difficult. I was eventually able to fight two dragons at the same time. It wasn’t double the fun — it was actually double the tedium.

It turns out that The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim wasn’t my cup of tea. There were many individual elements that I appreciated like the landscapes and how diverse the gameplay options were, but I didn’t enjoy how each of them interacted with one another. The entire game felt like a hodgepodge of ideas and concepts of varying degrees of quality. I can see how others can sink over a hundred hours into the game and get lost in the incredible simulation of fantasy world, but I couldn’t do it.

It just wasn’t fun.

For Fans Only

Ratings Guide

For more information on the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, visit the official site.

2010 PC Rev. 1.1 was used the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

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