Let it be known now, I’m a busy guy. Between cosplay, side jobs, and taking care of a needy girlfriend, there really isn’t a lot of time in my life for my other love…video games. I’ll also say that recently I’ve become quite unfaithful with said girlfriend, tucking her in at night, then sneaking away to spend time with another sweet and fulfilling mistress. Her name is Skyrim, and if you tell my girlfriend what I’ve been doing with her, I will come to your house and FUS RO DAH you off of your computer chair (you’ll understand the meaning below).
Don’t get me wrong now, real life has its perks. But how often can you walk down the street, walk into a random person’s house, take all their valuables, then when the authorities show up, tell them you are a member of a very important and soon-to-be-feared organization and have them just get back in their cars and drive off? I’ll tell you, never. Unless you are like me and you’ve become so engrossed with this game that real life is the game and Skyrim is the reality.
Bethesda really outdid themselves here. As a fan of Morrowind, Oblivion and both Fallout 3 and New Vegas, I can see why they are the kings of the Action RPG market. The care and time put into each area in the land of Skyrim was not overlooked and believe me, you’ll be looking at a lot in Skyrim. The country of the Nords is vast and expansive, greatly expanding on the size of the previous games’ scale. I booted the game up and spent an hour and a half customizing my character, from the scaly Argonian lizard men, to the hardy and strong Nords from Skyrim herself. Personally, I settled on a Nord, a good friend of mine loves Thor, and honestly, I just want to pretend to be a Viking and pillage everything I can. You begin the game, bound and on the road to the chopping block for a crime you aren’t sure you even committed (Maybe you did, maybe you didn’t. It’s open for interpretation). On the way down the road, you listen in on the happenings in Skyrim, a civil war between Ulfric Stormcloak and his rebellion and the Imperial Army of the dying Empire of Tamriel. Maybe a lot to take in for some, but hey, you’re about to get your head severed from your body. It’s not going to matter anymore.
A roar, multiple loud and thunderous roars and what is revealed both save your life and sets the stage for the entire game from then on. Yes, I’m talking about dragons, lots and lots of dragons. Who doesn’t love dragons? I sure do, I play World of Warcraft, and I know the fat loot they can give me if I kill them. Skyrim is no different.
You learn you are Dovahkiin, or Dragonborn in the Dragon’s language. What this means is that each dragon you slay, you absorb their soul. Which is used to power the various Shout abilities you find throughout the game. Such as FUS RO DAH. A shout with enough power to fling even the heaviest objects flying into the air with hilarious results. Powers such as these are at the Dragonborn’s disposal.
With a myriad of spells, abilities, and actions present in the game, the controls handle wonderfully, the combat is fluid and the menus and social aspects within the game have been streamlined to a degree to make a port for the consoles that is bearable. The PC version (The format I am playing on) suffers greatly for this, as meandering through the menus feels clunky and slow, sometimes even completely unresponsive, forcing you to resort to your mouse. The graphics on the PC do make up for it, as the system ports are still only running on low to medium quality at most, but I’ll get to the graphics in a bit. As for the hiccups and bugs, there are quite a few. The majority are minor and hardly game breaking. As it is a Bethesda game, these bugs were expected from me. Let’s not forget what Fallout was like in the beginning.
I spoke briefly on the graphics, but assuming you do have a powerful enough computer to run it, you need to prepare for the inevitable liquidizing effect the graphics have on your eyes. That scene at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark? That will be you. The game is so beautiful and vibrant, I couldn’t comprehend the sheer awe I had when I ran everything up to max. I may be playing the game with a paper bag over my head to hide my hideously grotesque face, but I know in my mind that what I COULD still be seeing is the beautifully lush and vibrant tundras, bustling streets of the many towns and cities, and the dark and murky caves and ruins lining the mountains and hills. Take that warning with you so you don’t end up like me.
I recently had a conversation with a friend about the sheer size of Skyrim. Now, to be fair, at the beginning of the game, your map is empty, save for the few places you have been to in the introduction to the story, Even then the map seems large, and as it fills more and more with locations, it only seems to feel even bigger and bigger. Each location feels different and new, as all the NPCs are moving about with their own chores and lives all their own. You may walk into a town and see the blacksmith hard at work making weapons and armor, and later on hit up the inn for a mug of mead and see the same blacksmith relaxing in there with you, sharing stories of his life in the war. The world feels alive. It is alive, and you are the key player in its future. With over 150 dungeons in the game alone, expect a lot of time to be invested into the game. I have already spent a good 70 hours myself into it and have yet to scratch the main storyline, I’ve been exploring and seeing all there is to see, and that’s the beauty of Skyrim.
You can play the game however you want, doing whatever you want, being whoever you want. Go off and find the a citizen’s lost dog, or delve into a dungeon looking for an ancient staff that may be the key to saving the world. Whatever your flight of fancy, Skyrim has it. Skyrim will let you do anything you want and for that alone, I’ve fallen in love with it. I wish my girlfriend let me do whatever I want…
Needless to say, by the time I’m done with this game, the Mayan calendar will have ended. December 21st, 2012 was it?