The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim review
Chris Davis

Review

Fight or Flight

The (Other) War in the North


For each of its titles from 2002 to 2008, Bethesda Softworks utilized an engine called Gamebryo. This engine, while remarkable for last generation, looked muddled in Oblivion and was universally decried in Fallout 3. Thankfully, Bethesda uses a new engine in Skyrim called Creation and while the results yield similarities to what weve played before, this new one is quite the generational leap. Draw distance and environmental depth are the key focuses of Creation and it is immediately noticeable upon stepping foot into Skyrim for the first time. The game smartly has little to no invisible walls (a large problem in Fallout: New Vegas) and The Throat of the World, the tallest peak in all of Tamriel, is climbable, something that many are going to want to do from the moment they begin the game.

Beyond height and draw distance you will find that Creation allows for a deep and quite lively world to explore, more so than anything Bethesda has ever created. Forests are large and alive with animals living their lives underneath the canopies of tall trees. No one location in all of Skyrim feels generated for the expressed purpose of existing and the world actually feels quite alive. These changes arent limited to the world however: the citizens of Skyrim are just as vibrant in their lives as the outside world is. Character models no longer seem randomly generated and the compliment of voice actors this time around doesnt seem nearly as small in number. Conversations no longer zoom in on the (previously ugly) faces of people and the world continues on outside of your interactions. The world of Skyrim is incredibly engaging and one you will love exploring.

Skyrim absolutely has to be experienced in 5.1 surround sound and it is almost a waste to do otherwise. The sound design is already fantastic but it is worth noting that, at least in the Xbox 360 version of the game, there can be some localized sound issues with playing with a 2.1 or lower sound system. In this scenario, at least during the pre-patch timeframe, sound often cuts out drastically when moving the camera away from active sounds and the simulation of sound coming from the side and behind you is dramatically different, yielding a product that makes a lot of interaction with the world a bit annoying. Again, this is something that can probably be fixed through a post-release patch or even a properly calibrated sound system, but for those who do not have a surround sound system, youll immediately want to upgrade as soon as you experience Skyrim with one.

The Champion of the Fourth Era


When I sat down to review Skyrim I was quite apprehensive. After all, I really didnt enjoy Oblivion much outside of the first few hours and while I was actively engaged in Fallout 3, I did not like the idea of returning to melee-only combat. What Ive come away with, however, after over forty hours of gameplay already, is a title that I was completely wrong about. Skyrim is a game that not only will draw in Elder Scrolls fans but newcomers alike, with a gameplay design that will render you hard-pressed to put down the controller, whether it is 2pm or 2am. Combat in the game is engaging and the amount of things to do and places to explore is staggering, even for an Elder Scrolls title. After a week of playing the game for hours on end, I still want to dive back in and fight another dragon, liberate another town and learn more shouts.

Simply put, Skyrim isnt just the best title Bethesda has ever made: it is probably one of the top releases of this generation. Mage or thief, Nord or Khajiit, PC or console, the results are the same: you will love Skyrim.

9.5

fun score

Pros

Massive, immersive world

Cons

Autosave system only applies to leaving/entering an area