“The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” is the latest in the blockbuster series from Bethesda Game Studios and has consumed the lives of millions across the globe already. This writer is slightly ashamed to admit having put in more than 50 hours as of Saturday night, with no end in sight. Students who value their grades and lives should stay away from this soul-enslaving masterpiece until the semester ends.
Players embark on a journey to find out why dragons have returned to the Nordic-themed land of Skyrim. Along the way players realize they are the Dovakiin, the only person able to kill dragons, consume their souls and use their dragon magics against them. Players also take part in a civil war, demon worshipping, vampire slaying and werewolf hunting. Oh, and that’s only in the first few hours. According to Bethesda, there are more than 400 hours of content to go through, prompting many to weep for their academic futures.
Combat follows in the slick, if simple, lineage of previous “Elder Scrolls” games while introducing a few big twists on the formula. Dual wielding weapons sacrifices the ability to block but gains incredible damage. Weapons also come with a bevy of sickeningly cool finisher animations, such as decapitations. Magic users will find dual wielding different spells to be quite fun, or gamers can dual wield the same spell to power it up to enormous potential.
One of the themes that seems to permeate “Skyrim” is simplifying things without sacrificing potential. Players won’t find as large of a variety in skills, attributes, creatures, weaponry or magic as previous “Elder Scrolls” games, but each one feels much more well-crafted and thought out than before.
Graphically, the game isn’t perfect, but it isn’t far from it. Dragons in particular look incredible, and this is the first Bethesda game in which faces look remotely human. However, don’t look too closely at the textures, as an up-close look reveals they aren’t very high-definition; players can find themselves distracted in the opening scenes by a particularly hideous wall.
Surprisingly, for a Bethesda game, “Skyrim” is rather bug-free. There are a few hilarious glitches like giants being able to send people flying into the stratosphere or horses that decide to climb trees. You might run into a few crashes, but the game loads incredibly quick and has a marked lack of unwanted, unskippable movies that plague previous installments’ launch screens.
The little details are really what set “Skyrim” apart from any other game. When you drop an unwanted item on the ground, non-player characters will often remark on the danger of leaving such things lying around, or even be so kind as to return them to you. Players may find themselves suddenly beset by armed thugs seemingly from nowhere and later discover the angered owner of the carrot they stole had dispatched the fiends to exact revenge. Many gamers will leave a tavern only to find their faithful steed doing battle with a dragon outside; dragons can appear at any time at any place in the open world, leading to many similar encounters.
Between the incredible story lines and dialogue, unparalleled amount of content, intense combat and plethora of small touches that exemplify the hard work of Bethesda, “Skyrim” is worth every penny. Don’t be surprised to see this game popping up on award lists around the world. Likewise, gamers shouldn’t be surprised to realize 12 hours have passed, the assignment for class tomorrow is still unfinished, they haven’t slept and class begins in three hours.