Bethesda’s latest masterpiece just came last Friday, 11-11-11 (that’s November 11, 2011) and for those of you who were lucky enough to pre-order the game, it has been an amazing weekend of exploring, NPC quests, and figuring out whether you would want to double wield or to go classic with a weapon and shield or go all out with spells. But is Skyrim everything that it has been hyped up to be? Are fans of the previous Elder Scrolls games going to be happy? And just how important is that giant dragon to the game?
Before we jump straight into the game, let us take a very quick look at how the launch went, fans’ initial reactions and how things really went. For gamers in the United States, there was a bit of an issue with a few release date deliveries –particularly due to some holiday hi-jinks (they were celebrating Veteran’s Day). But aside from that, most folks got the physical copies of the game just fine.
What did not go so fine was the Steam connectivity issue that went along with the PC versions. Here is a little tipoff: do not be misled by the Games for Windows logo on the case. Sure, Skyrim is a game for Windows, but it is not “Games for Windows Live”. So yes, as PC gamers may have realizing, Skyrim requires the use of steam. And here is a tip for users in Asia: do not connect to local servers for the update, set your Steam client to connect to a UK or US based server to download updates, the speeds are significantly faster. Anyway, the big issue with Steam is the fact that the service has a date and time authentication feature –which should not be a big deal, except for the fact that the DRM does not take various time zones into account. So if your got your copy on launch day, but it was not yet the proper date and time at the server’s location, then you would have received a message stating that the game could not be run until a certain time passes. Many players have been badly affected by this issue –after all, they were not able to play a game that they physically had a copy of.
Now that that has been said, let us move on to happier news. First off, the limited edition! Yes, the Alduin statue is pretty huge, but the details are very impressive. Contrary to what one would think from the figure’s appearance, Alduin is actually pretty light, having been made mostly of lightweight plastic over anything else. The cloth map is vastly superior to the printed version –particularly if you are the type to really go for collectibles.
Getting back to those really important questions we mentioned earlier, let us focus first on the game. Skyrim takes Elder Scrolls in a completely new direction in terms of design. The new user interface is clearly taking a huge leap towards a more modern appeal and yet somehow, it fits in all too well with the game’s more medieval swords and magic theme. From the main menu to the character customization screens, the menus have been stylized with neutral colors and clean cut lines –the use of archaic looking cursors and arrows are a nice touch that brings it all together.
The game’s graphics are simply to die for. Straight off the bat, players are introduced to the visibility diminishing snow falls of the northern lands. And as you take that long, slow, cart-ride to an Imperial base, you will find yourself drawn to the lividity of the voice acting, the grit of the narrative and the enthralling textures of the character models –enough to impress, but not too much to distract you from the fact that you are once again a prisoner and are on your way to an execution, yours.
This is the part where all the veteran Elder Scrolls fans either groan or laugh a little at the thought that once again, the protagonist starts out as a captive of some sort. But instead of being stuck in an isolated cell, you will now find yourself surrounded with other captives –each sharing the same fate as you, in the beginning at least.
The game starts to gets a first adrenaline-filled rush as the execution sequence’s largest twist appears (wel, you obviously would not be beheaded here, after all). And as you try to escape from the chaos, you get a good grasp of player controls and later on, object interactivity.
Even at this early stage, many Elder Scrolls players would find familiar gameplay features –ranging from similar keyboard control mapped keys to movement and NPC interactivity. Choices are also brought up early on in the game, and every decision a player makes will certainly affect the events of the game (in case you were wondering, we joined the rebels).
With that said, Skyrim easily makes a solid contender for the game of the year award, and while the competition is certainly going to be tough, the fact of the matter is that Skyrim boasts an extremely massive amount of gameplay content, amazing graphics, a wonderful narrative and an undeniably epic legacy.
So, the question now is: have you already bought or claimed your copy of The Elder Scrolls V: Skryim?