Thursday, August 09, 2012

TheAssailant Reviews: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Note: This review will be split between the main game and the Dawnguard DLC. For the DLC review, click here.

I've played the ever-loving crap out of both Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas. I absolutely love the whole first-person open-world RPG thing, but for whatever reason, playing Oblivion was never something I fancied too well. I borrowed it from a friend and eventually gave it back because I complained it wasn't "as good as Fallout." Luckily, Skyrim is a huge improvement over Oblivion.


Much like Oblivion, Skyrim has multiple character races, each with their own specialty stats (but you can still learn whatever you want, race doesn't affect that). Leveling up is achieved by doing things related to the skill; smithing, doing damage with bows, doing damage with magicka, gaining damage to heavy armor, etc. The main difference here is that Skyrim allows you to level up at any time without having to seek a bed to sleep in. Additionally, the actual level cap is 81, where in Oblivion the level cap was varied as it depended on how you leveled up (a glitch from a poorly thought-out game mechanic).

Don't read this out loud.
Also new to Skyrim is the use of dragon shouts to help in fighting a battle. As the player, you can go and find certain word walls with a word of power for you to learn, which is required for a predetermined shout (you can't create shouts, however). The popular shout "Fus Ro Dah" (known in the game as Unrelenting Force) is composed of the Dragon words for "force," "balance," and "push" that must first be found throughout the game before the full shout can be used.

This is a nice city you have here. It'd be a shame if
something happened to it...
Fighting dragons is also great. There is nothing more challenging or satisfying as having an epic battle with a damn dragon. When I first started the game, I had a few difficulties with dragons, but as the game progressed and I became better with a bow, dragons were much more easily conquered, while still maintaining a satisfying challenge. It also becomes easier when after playing through the main questline, as you learn a shout that forces dragons to land and stay grounded for about a minute (which you can then keep spamming to keep them grounded).

Except for the new running mechanic, the ability to fight dragons, and using dragon shouts, not much is new compared to Oblivion and the Fallout games. However, what is here is much more refined than in the previous games and comes together feeling very well put together. For example, instead of having a bounty across the entire game world like you would in Oblivion, Skyrim has individual bounties for each administrative hold of Skyrim.


Taking place 200 years after the events of Oblivion, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has you in the shoes of the fabled "Dovahkiin," a warrior born of dragon blood right at a time when the dragons have returned to Tamriel and their leader, Alduin, wishes to do some very bad things to it.

Pictured: Alduin, stuff exploding, shizz going down.
You survive execution thanks to Alduin's dragon attack, but unfortunately Alduin is the bad guy and you need to go stop him before some serious shizz happens in the land of Skyrim. To make things worse, you're caught in the middle of a civil war between the local Nords and their leader Ulfric Stormcloak, and the regency of the Empire of Cyrodiil, located to the south. You can of course, choose your priorities in how you will handle all of Skyrim's problems; you can for example take out Alduin immediately and then focus on the rest of Skyrim, or take your time with the main quest and explore as much as your heart pleases. It's all up to how you want to do things.

Additionally, a lot of time and effort went into creating the dragon language; dragons speak their own language to each other, and they have their own cuneform-like writing script. The language was well thought out and has quite the list of words and some grammatical differences, though still similar in construction to English. Hell, even the game's main theme is sung entirely in Dragon, and actually rhymes in both English and Dragon.

Here's the first verse of the main theme in both Dragon and English as an example of what I mean by "they both rhyme":

Dovahkiin, Dovahkiin, naal ok zin los vahriin,
Wah dein vokul mahfaeraak ahst vaal!
Ahrk fin norok paal graan fod nust hon zindro zaan,
Dovahkiin, fah hin kogaan mu draal!
Dragonborn, Dragonborn, by his honor is sworn,
To keep evil forever at bay!
And the fiercest foes rout when they hear triumph's shout,
Dragonborn, for your blessing we pray!


Skyrim has been an immensely enjoyable experience throughout. I've already poured 150 hours into a single save (for comparison, my Pokemon saves are between 70-100 hours only, and that is over the course of years). There isn't a part I don't like about Skyrim, unless it's being torn to shreds by dragons early on in the game. It's currently only the second game I've been motivated enough to get all achievements, before the DLC came out and messed that up for me (but I'll have them all again soon). The story is good, the gameplay is great, and overall the game is fantastic. A lot of work went into this game, and glitches were very sparse, the only major one I came across involved a sidequest that asks you to steal an item from a house that becomes inaccessible after the Civil War questline. Overally, Skyrim has definitely become one of my new favorites.

Here's my proof, it's from a while ago.

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