The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim lives up to its name, where the sky truly is the limit.
Story: There is a main plot revolving around you being the Dragonborn who must stop the evil time-travelling dragon Alduin, but the glory of Skyrim is that the story is whatever you make it. The game is so big that you can carve out your own set of missions and tales so that no one will ever be able to identically replicate your playthrough.
Sound: The music is pretty epic, to put it mildly. Fighting a huge ice-breathing dragon and the main theme of the game comes on in full swing? Never felt anything like it before, and probably never will again. It’s intense, it’s fiery, and it definitely teleports you to Skyrim, if only for a few minutes. The sound effects are satisfying, as well. When the music doesn’t quite do the trick, the sizzling crackle of my incineration fire bolt blowing a skeleton to smithereens does. The dragonshouts play a big part in this t00, as being able to yell “YOL TOOR SHUL” and watch enemies burn from your voice alone instills a huge feeling of power. The voice acting is alright, but not amazing. Only a handful of characters have amusing and memorable voices, but the dialogue which everyone speaks is great. The dialogue caters directly to whatever you’ve done most recently in-game, and hearing a guard taunt you with “Let me guess, someone stole your sweetroll” never fails to please in its own odd way. Sound: 10/10
Presentation: The graphics aren’t exactly cutting edge, which is the only true flaw with Skyrim’s presentation. Everything else is phenomenal, from the thousands of gorgeous armor choices to the megasupercalifragilisticexpialidociouscolossul map that contains hundreds of detailed and detailed areas, none of which feel repetitive. It’s amazing that Bethesda managed to make every one of the hundreds of ruins, caves and underground cities all have a unique flavor and visual style, especially considering the almost gross quantity of places to go in the game. Needless to say, there’s a good twenty hours in the game just exploring the map for giggles. The loading times may be a bit long and a bit too often, but with a virtual land this big it’s easily understandable. Presentation: 8/10
Gameplay: Any action game you’ve ever played culminates into this one adventure, in one way or another. Fan of FPS titles? Bow and arrows are present. Love RPGs? Lots of strategy oriented Mage gameplay is here. Want a fun third person action adventure with lots of sword slashing? Even that’s available for gamers like me in Skyrim! Really, if there isn’t a playstyle here that you like, you shouldn’t be playing video games. The depth of each branch of gameplay is huge, allowing you to mix and mingle your favorite various playstyles until you get a combo to suit your needs. There’s the mage/theif hybrid which allows for illusion spells to trick your enemies while you stealthily assassinate all of your foes, and there’s the straight up hack ‘n slash heavy armor style which can intertwine with enchanting to create the most magically enhanced brawler out there. Personally, I started off as a battlemage with one-handed swords and various spells, but ended up becoming the ultimate mage, rocking a fully charged roster of master destruction spells, a variety of flaming death abilities powerful enough to scare any Draugr, the Archmage robes and two magicka-specific Dragon Priest Masks. Things got pretty crazy when I couldn’t see my character due to all of the burning souls around my blazing Dark Elf.
That brings me to my next point, the various races of Skyrim. I stuck with Dark Elf because those guys are bosses, but there were plenty of other enticing race choices with unique bonuses, such as the imperials which looted more money from chests and the Khajiits with dagger-level claws. All of these help you boost your desired playstyle before you even start playing!
My only gripe with the gameplay is a sort of personal one. Unlike Deus Ex: Human Revolution where their were three defining playstyles, I just don’t feel comfortable with this much variety. I feel the game is almost spread too thin, not paying attention to any one area quite enough. But considering the game encourages intermingling of strategies, this can be overlooked.
The main issue with Skyrim is that during some of the best moments of the game, deadly glitches arise. They range from minor issues such as enemies not spawning to massive issues such as being caught in the texture of a wall, both of which can be extremely frustrating given the right circumstances. Considering how large TES V is, it’s alright but it definitely justifies the monthly patches and updates. Gameplay: 7/10
Multiplayer: N/A! Suck it society! A game that doesn’t need online deathmatch to be considered legendary!
Length: Holy crap is what any first time player of this game will say. Holy crap is what a player nearing the seventy hour mark (myself) will say. No matter how long you play, the game keeps throwing stuff at you. Whether it’s randomly generated side quests (which do exist in an abundance, mind you), spontaneous dragon battles, specific NPC missions or conquering one of the main six quest lines, there’s easily over one hundred hours of content to be had in this large section of Tamriel. Easily the longest game I’ve ever played, and it earns my first *positive* (Ahem, UMVC3) score breaking rating. Length: 15/10
Overall: Skyrim gets a well deserved 10 dragon souls out of 10. I say The Elder Scrolls V is equivalent to my only other 10/10 champion, Star Wars Battlefront 2! What it lacks in technical specs and programming perfection, it makes up for in immense quantity and mind-boggling quality. It provides an experience that will make any other supposed “massive open-world adventure game” look like catnip.