The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

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Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 92% (based on 71 ratings)

Player Reviews

Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 171 ratings with 8 reviews)

Bethesda marches forward

The Good
My feelings for Elder Scrolls games changed from complete indifference to annoyance and finally admiration. Over the course of my game-playing career I've come to appreciate and enjoy all of its installments, from Arena to Oblivion. I eagerly anticipated Skyrim and was eventually rewarded with a game that, while not exactly re-inventing the formula, polishes and embellishes it to the utmost degree.

Skyrim has everything we love in Bethesda's RPGs - above all, of course, a huge, engrossing open world full of things to try out. I won't go into detail here; anyone familiar with the company's previous works will instantly recall the addictiveness of nearly unlimited exploration and the joy of methodically developing a character in a free-form way. Skyrim keeps everything intact: it is one gigantic, delicious chunk of gaming to entertain us for hours upon hours.

In this review I'll concentrate of what Skyrim does better than its predecessors. In two words, that would be "almost everything". Indeed, Skyrim is a clear example of developers actually listening to fans and working to improve and rectify whatever was wrong in their previous games. So much of the criticism leveled against Morrowind and Oblivion has been addressed that many of these predecessors' most aggravating issues disappeared almost fully.

Elder Scrolls games were gradually getting better at concealing the randomness of their enormous worlds, the artificial way they were constructed, the lack of personality in places and people. Skyrim feels much more "seamless", more homogeneous than Bethesda's previous games. Everything is designed with greater care, and it really shows. The NPCs are by far more life-like, more natural; locations ooze poetic atmosphere; the detail is overwhelming. It is hard to define this volatile sensation, but Skyrim does away with unpleasant stiffness that plagued all its predecessors. Its world may be covered by snow and ice, but it is much warmer.

Earlier games in the series had problems with dungeon design. Skyrim offers atmospheric, interesting dungeons which are a pleasure to explore. Long and reasonably complex (without the excesses of Daggerfall), they are rewarding and fairly unique in style. Many of them have puzzles and other clear distinguishing features, and some are very impressive in design and scope. Comparing them to the monotonous copy-pasted caves of Dragon Age II, we see that Bethesda beats the competitors at their own game.

The radiant AI of the NPCs works better than in Oblivion, and everyone seem to behave more naturally in general. A lot of effort has been put into personalizing NPC lines and updating them as the game evolves. One time I chatted with a nameless guard in a quiet town and he first commented upon recent political changes and then expressed his solidarity with my decision to use one-handed weapons. In short, the conversation felt more like a verbal exchange between two normal people than a few random lines rigidly stuck into a video game to fill space. This is just an example of how the developers of Skyrim paid attention to detail.

Combat system is, in essence, the same as in the previous game, but battles are more visceral and exciting. Combat just feels right, and is enjoyable throughout. One of the best things Skyrim does is fix the terrible level-scaling system of Oblivion. Some of the enemies still scale with you, but overall the effect is by far less noticeable. There is a sense of danger when an underleveled character encounters a stronger foe, and a sense of accomplishment when preparation and tactics lead to victory. The new skill trees are interesting and do not in the least interfere with the old system. On the contrary, they add another layer of depth and complement skill development very nicely. Leveling up is faster, clearer, more logical and less confusing than in any previous Elder Scrolls game. Archery and magic have clear advantages even when fighting regular enemies, and there is a good incentive to explore different development venues. Everything is better balanced and challenging in a good way.

The game's story is decidedly better than in Oblivion and has quite a few memorable moments. The main quests are interesting and take you to spectacular locations. Some of the scenes are genuinely thrilling; the first battle against the dragon, for example, masterfully conveys the feelings of awe and fear. Dragon battles in general are fascinating, and belong to the most exciting RPG confrontations in recent memory. Besides dragons, there is plenty of interesting wildlife; all kinds of creatures, from deer to mammoths, roam the countryside, and you'll fight ferocious bears and fearsome sabre cats. The game world breathes life; it has its own culture and traditions that are interesting to learn. Fortunately, they have removed the instant fast-travel from the previous game: in order to discover a new location, you actually have to manually venture there, enjoying the beautiful, yet often perilous journey.

The Bad
All that said, I'd like to stress that Skyrim still is, for all purposes, a typical Bethesda game and has inherited some of the series' cardinal weaknesses. Though I love both games, Fallout: New Vegas was, in my opinion, a more impressive merging of open-ended RPG with memorable characters and setting. Writing in Skyrim (with the exception of Daggefall-age books) is more or less on par with Fallout 3; characters are a bit more interesting. But overall, there is still a certain lack of liveliness in character presentation and stale, formulaic conversations that have become associated with Bethesda's RPGs. There can be no comparison between the narrative quality of Skyrim and the brilliance of the writing in BioWare's and Obsidian's games. Skyrim is certainly an evolution, but not a revolution.

There are companions in Skyrim, but they are painfully silent. My faithful follower Lydia made nearly no comments and reacted indifferently to whatever happened around her. I hope that next time Bethesda will put more thought into dialogue with companions. It is one of the last barriers that they have to jump over in order to triumph over their colleagues in RPG-making.

The graphics of Skyrim worked for me, but didn't quite evoke the same sense of wonder as Morrowind and Oblivion had done in their time. Character graphics are quite unremarkable. Towns, dungeons and outdoor locations are clearly crafted with heart, but the occasional coarse texture may spoil the enjoyment. The homogeneous world is detailed, but the bleak northern landscape can get repetitive and rather depressing.

I only have minor complaints about the gameplay. I didn't like the lockpicking system and would prefer the mini-game from Oblivion instead. I missed the acrobatics skill; pity they don't let us perform crazy leaps by practicing jumping any more. And the interface is, as you might have heard, weird and uncomfortable. Eventually I got used to it, and I must say that large graphical items are a step forwards compared to the boring icons from the previous game; but irrational key bindings nearly drove me mad until I installed a patch.

The Bottom Line
While New Vegas still holds the crown of modern RPG development in my eyes, Skyrim comes very close. Like earlier Bethesda products, it lacks the wit and the charm of BioWare's and Obsidian's works; but it steadily improves upon its predecessors and offers the most complete and convincingly crafted classic Bethesda experience so far.

Windows · by Unicorn Lynx (180491) · 2012

I used to like Elder Scrolls, but then I took an arrow to the knee

The Good
It is big and pretty. After the nauseating mess that was Oblivion, I enjoyed playing Skyrim much more than I expected to. In fact, looking back, I wish I had played a bit slower, and taken more time to appreciate the details. I will definitely replay it in a couple of months when mods start shaping up and certain bugs are fixed.

The Bad
The world is generic. Trees, wood houses, stone ruins, bears, cats, foxes, mammoths, giants, skeletons, dragons, ... where have I seen this before? Oh yeah. Everywhere.

The main quest is poorly designed. If you happened to live in a cave during the Skyrim media promotion, then don't worry. Everything is revealed in the first ten minutes: Alduin, the eater of worlds, has awoken again, and you are the dragonborn destined to defeat him! Still, unlike the guild quests, the main quest is relatively okay.

Guild quests are very poorly designed. Everything is Epic and Extreme! Day 1 in the mage's guild: five minute lecture on how to cast spells. Day 2: I'm crawling through a dungeon killing epic undead left and right and discovering epic artifacts. Epic! Day 5: I became the chosen one for an ancient order of super wizards, saved the world and became the arch-mage, even though my skill and knowledge of magic is far less than anyone else's in the guild. Extreme! This is probably the best guild quest in the game too, the others are far worse. The Stormcloak/Empire quests aren't even funny, they're just plain bad.

After you achieve something great, nothing in the game changes. Defeated Alduin? Dragons are still flying around just like before. Defeated the Stormcloaks? There are still respawning Stormcloak outposts just like before. I guess in Morrowind it made sense because it was all hush-hush. You could boasts about your deeds but nobody would believe you. In Skyrim everyone seems to be perfectly informed about everything. Guards will randomly tell you that they know you are in the Dark Brotherhood for example. Or that you're a conjurer, or that you are good at lockpicking. They even comment about artifacts you have equipped. It's incredibly incoherent too. You can kill a dragon and absorb its soul in front of a guard and he'll still say "I got to thinking, maybe I'm the dragonborn and I just don't know it yet". No, bro. I'm the dragonborn, as you damn well know.

It's like Bethesda put no thought into the logic of the world at all. They just made content for content's sake.

Finally, the gameplay itself feels better, it has lost something. It's become far too easy and monotonous. In Morrowind, mages had to invest some thought into what they would cast because magicka didn't just regenerate in a couple of seconds, and the spell selection was bigger. In Skyrim you can let loose everything you've got in every encounter. This is just one example out of many of how the gameplay was dumbed down.

The Bottom Line
It's Fallout 3 with swo... I mean, it's a new TES game.

It's much better than Oblivion, but lacks the artfulness, consistency and weirdness of Morrowind.

However if Bethesda improves in the next game as much as they have improved from Oblivion to Skyrim, then perhaps there is hope yet.

Windows · by dorian grey (241) · 2011

По суті, Скайрім - це така екшн-РПГ пісочниця, яка живе за рахунок модів.

The Good
Атмосфера, Імерсивність, Бойова система, Моди, Дракони, Пересування верхом на коні.

The Bad
Нецікаві квести, В діалогах недостатньо вибору для відігравання ролі, Варіативність на низькому рівні,

The Bottom Line
Команда Тода Говарда завжди старається наповнити свої ігри максимальною кількість контенту та зробити їх настільки масштабними, наскільки їм це позволяє бюджет та технології, але якість цього контенту завжди під питанням. Це ігри, які багатьом подобаються, але водночас їх мало хто проходить до кінця. До того ж, без модів Скайрім вважається дуже сирим навіть серед фанатів.

Windows · by Oleh Wixel · 2023

Bethesda's very first masterpiece

The Good
This is it. Bethesda had finally done their homework by listening to their fans, researching into what worked and not thus far in this most complicated genre of all, what made Morrowind so much deeper and more memorable than Oblivion -- and they released what is probably their best and most consistent game yet. All things considered, it is also among the best role-playing games ever made. But Bethesda needed all their blood, sweat and tears, all the hard experience from Arena to Fallout 3 to pull this feat.

Skyrim is best described as a distinctive, homogeneous experience in a dynamic open world. I think it is best played in huge chunks, in a wide-eyed, semi-meditative state, which is a prerogative of open-world RPG's, this pinnacle genre in video gaming. I'll try to break down the best components of this experience:

  • As much as the vast open-world formula permits it, Bethesda creates free-roaming NPC's with true characters -- even if only some of them really stick out and even fewer are memorable. As expected, characters who are relevant to the main plot are fleshed out the most: Ulfric Stormcloak, his second-in-command Galmar, Esbern, and our clandestine associate Delphine, perhaps most of all. What is great though is that some of the less important characters end up being quite memorable too: Ancano, the mysterious Thalmor emissary in the College. Madanach, the disgruntled leader of the Forsworn. Kodlak Whitemane, the Companions' elderly foreman who even writes a lengthy diary that we can discover. And when I finally lost my loyal sidekick Lydia in some dungeon after days of doing quests together, I felt a genuine sense of emotional loss (even if she wasn't one of the more memorable NPC's), a very rare feeling in computer games.

  • Politics are realistic, complex, convoluted, frustrating, as they should be. The internal and external struggles of the various factions are not sugarcoated for the player, it's all laid out as it is, and we need to figure our own way around the relations. The Empire, the Thalmor, the Stormcloaks, the Forsworn, the Blades, the Greybeards -- all their destinies are intertwined in a realistic way, all have their respective agendas that the player needs to figure out with minimal to no hand-holding. The fact that Skyrim's political landscape is not simplified for easier digestion is one of my favorite aspects of the game. It's a subtle, mature feature not advertised with hype, yet it helps the immersion tremendously.

  • Many of the conversations are deep and involving -- for a Bethesda game. They are excellently written and are often quite long, which is taken for granted from some other developers like Obsidian, but it's a very pleasant surprise coming from this developer who were once notorious for their drone-like NPC's and deadpan dialogues. The crucial negotiation scene in High Hrothgar reminded me of the Castle Never trial scene in NWN2, as it achieved the same kind of tension, gravity and drama, which is awesome for a mostly non-scripted open-world role-playing game. Skyrim is probably the very first open-world RPG that lives up to the challenge posed by Obsidian's offerings in terms of dramatization and tension.

  • Many of the quests are creative, exhilarating and unorthodox. The main plot line is haunted by a sense of wonder and is graced by many (scripted) scenes that are bound to be remembered as some of the most memorable scenes in gaming: the first dragon hunt at the Whiterun guard tower; the reading of the Elder Scroll on the mountaintop; the dragon trapping in Dragonreach; the greeting and cheering of a dozen flying dragons after the final battle. And Blackreach, a vast, eerie, otherworldly cavern with abandoned structures is one of the top five ingame locations I have encountered in a game EVER. Outside of actual real-life adventure travel, it is probably only open-world RPG's that are capable of achieving this sense of wonder, since it presupposes the element of boundless exploration in an intriguing region. It also presupposes a capability of sensing wonders in the players themselves, something that many jaded gamers of today seem incapable of -- in real life or virtual.

  • There are about 330 books in Skyrim, and while I haven't read all of them, I took the time to read quite a few. This is part of why the game is a triumph: not one of the books is shallow, boring or badly written. Yes, I know that many were already included in earlier Bethesda games, and most of them are brief 3-4 page treatises. Yet all things considered, this has to be one of the first games that does take its own book reading feature very seriously. You can spend several hours just browsing through the ingame books and not be bored. What's even better is the way the books' material ties in directly with the actual gameplay. In most RPG's, ingame books are disconnected from the actual gameplay. Here, they complement it. You can read a lot about Alduin or the Wolf Queen, for instance, and later you get to meet both of them.

  • Some towns are architecturally awesome and feel alive with daily bustle. Markarth and Whiterun, especially. I liked the vibe of Solitude and Riften as well. Again, this would not be such a feat in a "hands-off", closed-world RPG, but the fact that even towns are awesome and realistic in Skyrim makes the end product all the more irresistible.

So the game is not only huge and open-ended, but it includes characters, quests, books and towns with the high quality of smaller scale closed-world games: it's a culmination of the best of both worlds, not unified successfully until now.

The Bad
I finally got fed up with all of it around the 100 hours mark. That's quite a feat as the vast majority of contemporary RPG's stop being interesting (and usually run out of material) before 40-50 hours of gameplay. At this point, I couldn't stand to endure another bandit-infested fort, another Nord village, another steampunk Dwemer ruin, another mission update and so forth. It was too much, because Skyrim's world is very homogeneous. You'll find the exact same non-scripted stuff at the southern tip as on the icy northern reaches. Thus Skyrim's geographic and thematic realism is a mixed blessing; it can get grating, repetitive, predictable. But it's a long enjoyable ride until that point.

The skill system is radically simplified and streamlined, clearly the influence of mainstream console gaming (which itself is a blight on role-playing games). Much had been said about the classless system and the lack of skills like acrobatics. While all this can be interpreted as a dumbing down of game mechanics, I found that it doesn't hinder immersion, in fact maybe it promotes it: much like on a real-life adventure trip, in Skyrim all you need to really worry about is the actual surrounding environment instead of stats and dice rolls.

The Skyrim province and culture is quite blatantly inspired by Medieval Scandinavia, right down to the names and the looks of the people. I wish Bethesda took a more original approach than just "vikings on steroids".

I've used the already-famous SkyUI mod almost from day one, because I found the original UI insufferably dumbed-down and console-y. Its inventory management was so simplistic and awkward, it felt like it belongs to a lesser game.

Oh, the bugs. The 1.4 patch (as of early 2012) still failed to squash a number of serious show-stoppers. But us open-world RPG fans learned years ago that a major game is considered an "immature" release until it lives to see its first or even second birthday. By then the inevitable barrage of official and unofficial patches will have probably helped it to thoroughly playable status. (VTM: Bloodlines and Gothic 3 are prime examples of why it is useful to wait at least 2 years after initial release.) Judging by that, I'm sure I'll return to Skyrim around 2014 for another playthrough.

The Bottom Line
"We’re checking [Skyrim] out aggressively. We like it. We’re big admirers of [Bethesda] and the product. We think we can do some wonderful things," says Bioware co-founder Ray Muzyka. That has to be the ultimate praise, even if it comes from an increasingly uninspired developer that has spent the last few years spiraling down from failure (Mass Effect 2) to failure (Dragon Age 2) to sellout (The Old Republic). Here's hoping that Skyrim will change the development path of RPG's for the rest of the decade, bringing back both Obsidian and Bioware to the right track.

Let's face it: Skyrim is an important moment in game history. Its success and greatness prove to the entire industry that hardcore, epic games are not only actually marketable, they are plain cooler than anything the more casual Wii/PS3 market can come up with. They are even capable of entering popular culture if the quality and marketing is right. This is going to be a great decade for hardcore role-playing game fans.

Windows · by András Gregorik (59) · 2013

cool freaking skyrim where is skyrim 2?????????

The Good
Skyrim has such a large world to explore with characters to interact with, dungeons with unique items and treasures, and an interesting story.

It's fun to go in and build up your own character, whether you want to be a good character who is helps others, or an evil guy who kills people or whatever evil people even do nowadays.

The Bad
It's a Bethesda Studios game, there are bugs that ruin everything.

Sometimes, the combat will feel finicky. When you run and do a charge attack-- or at least when I do-- you will continue running into the enemy until you get past them. The hitboxes for double-handed weapons also seem to reach to far and hit you way too easily.

The Bottom Line
It's Skyrim.

Windows · by sinisterhippo (23) · 2019

Mediocrity all over

The Good
- Visually quite stunning. - A lot of customization. - Interface is pretty easy to understand. - Strong writing.

The Bad
- Poor fighting mechanics. - Useless shouts. - Lackluster storyline. - Boring scenery and world design. - Doesn't feel epic in the slightest. - Too easy. - Too many inexcusable glitches.

The Bottom Line
I already reviewed this game, but I wasn't quite satisfied with the first version of it. Not only was it very rushed, but it also lacked some of the details I wanted to include and it was more positive than intended, so I figured I would give it another shot.

As the game starts we are treated on a little cart trip through Skyrim along with some other prisoners (we are going to make a running gag out of this, aren't we Bethesda? -_-). Turns out we were trying to cross the border and for some reason that is illegal and punished with a trip to Dead Row and no trial. As far as opening scenes go it works pretty well as it does a pretty good job at getting me in the mood to play it and it at least contains more action than that boring prison-scene at the start of Oblivion. So naturally you escape from the man with the axe and soon after you end up in the great outdoors, beautiful Skyrim.

After this intro I went straight for the main quest which involves an evil dragon who wants to cause an apocalypse and reset the world. I wasn't expecting to be dumped straight into a great storyline, but after like five hours of playing the "peak" of the whole storyline had already occurred. The first time I had to fight a dragon was amazing, it seemed so big and so challenging to slay a beast of this size, but this was two hours in and the rest of the story was rather boring. Every quest you got was either telling you to go somewhere and talk to somebody or to go into a copy & pasted cave and fetch something.

It was around this time I figured a little break would do me some good and I dived into one of the side-stories, namely the whole rebellion that is going on in Skyrim. It is the Empire versus the Nords and I wanted to get in on the fun, so I headed straight for the Nord city of Winterhelm (or was it Winterhold?), It was around this time that I started to notice that the world design is pretty boring, sure it is amazing at first when you first emerge from a cave and see an endless field of adventure before you, but there is just very little to do in this world and the moment you see your first mountain you have pretty much seen it all. Broken down into percentages Skyrim is: 5% city, 2% mountain and 100% snow. No matter where you look, you'll see f*cking snow.

Anyway I got to the city and for the first time since I started playing I was send to an area with different scenery. As exciting as it may sound, I am sad to inform you that the answer to your question is "ice" and well... more snow. Another thing I started to notice was that as I started looting more valuable treasure and I could carry more and more items the shops weren't doing a very good job at keeping up with my desire to sell them stuff. In Oblivion all shopkeepers had a maximum amount of money they could give you for each item, but here they only have a limited amount of cash to spend per day. This means that selling one treasure will likely bankrupt them instantly and by the time you find another vendor you'll already have found more treasure, creating a loop that you simply can't escape.

The whole rebellion sidestory was okay, but it heavily relied on assaulting cities and settlements. Again, just like with the dragon, this is amazing the first time, but after you do it five times in the same hour it starts to grow rather dull and predictable. This is a major problem in Skyrim, everything that could be an amazing setpiece is leeched of all impact because you will start doing it at level 3 and continue to do it for as long as you play with no tweaking in difficulty. Every dragon or city you take down feels like something that should have been the finally of the game, which instead of putting you in a constant state of amazement, makes you immune to its attempts to impress you by constantly doing the same elaborate tricks. It could have been paced better is what I am trying to say.

A big argument I keep hearing however is that the combat and leveling are the best they have ever been in the series, something that around this time started to strike me as rather odd. Leveling in Skyrim isn't in any way different from leveling in Oblivion and neither is training your skills. Sure, you no longer select primary and secondary skills, but that only allows you to level yourself in a corner if you only train skills like Alchemy and Smithing. "But now you can play however you want and that is what your character will get good at" doesn't make any kind of sense because that is always the case in every RPG. The fighting is for the most part okay and feels like it has remained unchanged, but this is the first time we actually get to fight big battles with both friendly and enemy NPC's. Sometimes you'd get lucky and some random guards would help you beat down a bandit in Oblivion, but in Skyrim there are a lot of organized attacks and they aren't as fun as you'd think. Been an archer and sneak combination I was pretty much forced into fighting with a friendly army during the rebel quests and this turned the combat into an uncontrollable mess where dozens of soldiers danced around each other and friends were hard to differentiate from foes.

After rounding up the rebel business I returned to the main quest just in time to finally see the game's most hyped, new feature. Using the Right Button you can unleash a shout that will have a magical effect on enemies and your surroundings. Wait what? Magical effect? You mean like a spell? Yes, I am dead serious, the shouts are a 1 on 1 copy of the magical spells every fantasy game has used since god knows long. You have shouts for shooting fire, ice, wind, becoming invisible and stopping time just to name a few, but is this the great feature everybody was hyped for? In the time it takes my character to shout some random gibberish I could have already opened the menu and equipped a magic spell that does the exact same thing.

I continued working my way through a few more dull caves and pretty good character dialog until I finally made it to the last boss, or so I though. Though technically a Round 1 of 2 the first fight with the big, bad dragon was an absolute nightmare. Not because it was hard, but because it was more glitched than Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Big Rigs combined. After dying once because I got a little too excited and forgot to watch my health, the boss just went into insanity mode. I couldn't inflict any damage on him with anything I had, not even my backup could do anything to harm the dragon who was casually spewing fire on us while we were putting enough holes in him to make a bunker fall apart. Eventually I solved the glitch and in my very next try he managed to get stuck in the scenery. Fantastic. What makes this so weird for me is that I can't seem to figure out how you can possibly cock up so badly that a boss becomes completely invulnerable? How did you get that programmed into the game? And while we are on the subject: Why didn't this get taken out in the two patches we have seen since the release of the game?

Anyway, I finished up the main storyline which I won't spoil for you, but after that I kinda stopped playing. While I accumulated a total of 500+ hours played in Oblivion, I don't even think I reached the 30+ hours that I got on Kingdom Hearts and Skyward Sword with this game. I tried getting into the Thieves guild questline, but yeah... lots of dark caves.

My main problem with the game is that everything it contains could potentially be very amazing, but because you see everything in the first five hours of playtime and then just continue to wallow in it, it takes away from how epic it could have been. Consider it has also been a while since Oblivion came out, I kind of wonder what all the time went into because it certainly wasn't the storyline or the bug fixing.

While Skyrim has received a lot of praise from the press, I don't think it deserves such awards as the Game of the Year from the Escapist, simply because personally trying to enjoy this game felt a lot like clinging to the nostalgia I felt for Oblivion. I am not sure if this is the case for everybody, but the way I see professional websites handing out 10/10's makes me feel like these people weren't enjoying Skyrim as much as they forced themselves too and that is a pretty depressing thought.

If you are a die-hard fan of Oblivion than you may be able to see past the many problems of Skyrim, but everybody else will just see it for the mess it actually is. It is a big realm filled with a lot of copies of the same three areas and that occasionally pisses itself and dies. All-around mediocrity.

Xbox 360 · by Asinine (957) · 2012

Amazing presentation, boring gameplay

The Good
Well, I suppose the most obvious strongpoints of this instalment, as with its predecessor, are the graphics and the musical score. For a good dozens of hours (I think I spent almost 100 hours on this) I was so taken with the awesome visuals of Skyrim that I really did not mind so much all the drawbacks in the gameplay section.

I haven't seen any first-person action RPG looking as gorgeous as this one before on my trusty old laptop. And I didn't even play on the highest level of detail, so that's saying something. I remember how grateful I was that Skyrim would run at all on my computer, and was astonished to realise it ran quite fluently, even with the high texture pack installed.

Also, Bethesda finally managed to make the non-player characters look more vivid in their expressions and movements. This is a point which up to this instalment has prevented me to take a liking to Bethesda games (with the notable exception of Fallout 3 maybe).

The Bad
The story is a false pretense luring the player into the amazing atmospheric charms of the game. In the beginning I really thought I would make a difference or it would be a joy to discover everything there is and grow into Skyrim and its history.

In fact, there is ample opportunity to do exactly that. As usual, there is an abundance of history to be uncovered through the myriads of books lying around in places. Unfortunately, after having completed a couple of important story quests, I realised that no-one around me wherever I go really gave a shit about my achievements. Trespassing NPCs would use their same old lines over and over no matter what. And there's not even an option to prevent them from babbling away there shit, which is particularly annoying when you're in the middle of a conversation.

Although it is possible to configure some of the default controls, you still can't configure everything, and what's more confusing is that standard keys like E and TAB or R get different functions in different parts of the interface. Also, even if you change the R to the space tab, on screen it will still show the default key. That's rubbish and poorly thought out.

And then I've been really annoyed by the harvesting uselessness. I loved to harvest as much and as diverse a plant as I could, then finally got into the apothecary in Whiterun to discover she had only three recipes or so, and for these I was lacking two-thirds of ingredients. I mean, fuck that! I sold everything I had to her and ditched this aspect of the adventure.

The Bottom Line
Appealing FPRPG, but gets tedious after a while.

Windows · by CoffeeCrack (20) · 2015

A Journey Worth Taking

The Good
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (commonly shortened to Skyrim) has an extremely high replay value thanks to its non-linear approach to story telling and pacing. Doing away with traditional cut scenes and required missions, Skyrim lets players keep control during most of the game.

Starting off as a detainee (who is fully customizable including name, race, and physical attributes) who was caught crossing the boarder into Skyrim, the player is carted off to a nearby city (along with several rebels) to be executed by soldiers in the imperial legion, when a Dragon appears right as the player is about to be beheaded and giving you the chance to escape. After escaping, players have free reign to do whatever they want in Skyrim, providing hours of gameplay with numerous quests to go on, tons of towns to explore, countless villagers and treasures to find, and of course loads of dungeons to raid. And thanks to the leveling system, players can upgrade their characters anyway they want.

Players can level up their character using three different ways: either by performing the action that they want to level up (example, killing enemies with a one handed sword to level up the One-Handed attribute), learning a desired skill from a townsperson (for a fee of course), or by reading any of the skill books found through out the game. Upon improving enough skills, players will be able to level up in order to apply skill upgrades. When leveling up, players can increase one base attribute (health, stamina [for carrying things and stronger attacks], and magic) and apply a skill increase (you receive one per level-up, which can be saved and used later). Using a map based star constellations, players can increase any one of their skills for better perks (casting spells for less magic points, stronger sword attacks, etc.). This gives players a chance to level up based on their own unique ways of play style, making the game feel very personalized.

The Bad
Skyrim can sometimes suffer from some very troublesome bugs. Aside from occasionally glitching through a part of a mountain or getting stuck in a narrow space (which enemies can exploit and kill you for), on many occasions the game will buffer in between movements (this is especially bothersome in the middle of a fight) and on some occasions the game will freeze, requiring players to turn off the console and start all over again from their last save.

Skyrim's other problem is that the limits of the open world exploration can be found pretty quickly, given how certain characters cannot be killed at all. While a relatively minor issue (plenty of games in the past did not allow players to kill certain types of enemies), this can help bring down the open world feel of game since players have to go along with certain boundaries the game has already set. And while the killing of minors is an ethical debate in video games (plenty of virtual children are included in Skyrim), when a game takes advantage of not letting you kill children by giving them powers to call guards on you as well as place bounties on your head, it can feel like the game is sometimes cheating.

And while Skyrim deserves credit for its innovative storytelling, sometimes the experience feels hollow. After completing the main quest and defeating the final boss, the game just goes into a purgatory like state where all you can do is finish up the other minor quests you have to complete (while this is common with quest based games, it still doesn't change the fact that it doesn't feel like you have completed the story). And even though the dragon encounters are exciting at first, after the first few fights they start to become annoyances since you never know when the will pop up and are never prepared to deal with them.

The Bottom Line
Skyrim is a finely tuned RPG with an enormous world to explore, countless enemies to defeat, and tons of dungeons to explore, treasures to find, and engaging quests and storylines to complete. Add in a solid leveling system, good combat controls, an awe-inspiring soundtrack, and a Viking inspired atmosphere, and players will find themselves in an immersive and addictive game world.

And while Skyrim does show some limitations and some game crashing bugs (which can be fixed by getting a patch), overall it is an excellent game that for many players will be worth playing for years.

Xbox 360 · by Lawnmower Man (137) · 2012

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by Cavalary, Alaka, Starbuck the Third, Alsy, Richard Wilder, Jeanne, jumpropeman, Utritum, Yearman, Samuel Smith, Tim Janssen, Victor Vance, Cantillon, Patrick Bregger, jaXen, GTramp, Seth Newman.