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    Skyrim "First Five" Review

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    Paeter
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    Skyrim "First Five" Review

    Post  Paeter on November 14th 2011, 2:40 pm

    Oblivion was my first experience with a 1st-person RPG, my strong preference then being 3rd person, and it took me two attempts before I could adjust. But once I did I discovered a gaming experience nearly without equal. For months I've waited in eager anticipation for the next game in the Elder Scrolls series, and Skyrim does everything but disappoint.

    My first five impressions of any game's first five hours have almost always been an accurate summary of my thoughts on the game even after I finally play through the whole thing. So here are my first five impressions of the first five hours of "Skyrim". (Well, actually I've played twelve hours so far.)

    1. The visual design has gotten a very nice upgrade. I was very impressed with the look of "Oblivion", but the new spell animations and gritty textures of "Skyrim" take the experience even further. (And people don't look weird anymore!) There is something strangely "Fallout 3" about the look of things that I can't quite identify, but that's no insult! The game looks fantastic! Though I'll echo what a reviewer at Gamespot said by observing that the world of Skyrim is best experienced by looking at the big picture rather than the details, where the graphics betray plenty of blocky pixels up close. Still, character animations have been improved and other visual upgrades have been made across the board that add wonderful life to the game.

    2. They've put more effort into the auditory design as well! The score is still epic and sweeping, while having some great masculine tribal men's chorus added to great effect. The biggest improvement is the increase in the number and quality of voice actors used. My biggest gripe with Oblivion is that the game was fully voiced... by only about five actors, who made little or no effort to change their performance for different characters. (I played much of Oblivion with the voices turned off.) The character animations in conversations haven't been improved to "Dragon Age" quality, but the expanded voice cast adds some welcome life to character interaction.

    3. The interface has been streamlined, in many ways cloning elements from Fallout 3. You are ultimately given less information about your character, which in some ways is fine, since I never understood every detail of my Oblivion character anyway. But some info seems missing. I didn't know I had a disease until I noticed everyone telling me I look sick. (Your character records only indicate how many diseases you've caught, not how many you currently have.) But in almost every other way the simplification in menus is appreciated. The controls also respond wonderfully and never get in the way. As an added bonus, 3rd person mode is actually an enjoyable alternative playing mode! (It was lousy in Oblivion.) I still use mainly 1st person, as the game is primarily intended to be played that way, but now and then it's helpful, or just a nice change of pace, to switch to 3rd for a bit.

    4. "Immersive" is a word that keeps coming to mind. Even more so than Oblivion, Skyrim is an open, living world, with people and creatures in the wild living their own lives. I even passed a giant who had no interest in attacking me, and a dragon circled over head for three minutes while I was wandering in the forest. Scared the crap out of me but he finally moved on. It might seem counter-intuitive in design, but I actually love that this game isn't always "about me"! And again there is a ton to do. You can mix potions like before, as well as work in the smithy, smelter, tanner, workbench and grindstone to make your own weapons from scratch or improve existing weapons! And there are more quests than I can possibly keep up with!

    5. This game is addictive! Finishing many quests introduces new ones and the sights and sounds of this world just beg to be explored from top to bottom. My hand-eye coordination is lame, so I'm playing on easy, and I'm in the sweet spot of my difficulty curve. Combat is challenging, and yet I feel like somebody that no one should mess with. Dungeons are now also marked "cleared" on your world map once you've actually explored them (instead of just "discovering them"), making it easy to check dungeons off the completist's exploration list, and tempting to tackle "just one more". And the story is engaging and feels "alive" rather than scripted.

    In simple terms, this games just "works" on every level. Although there are small details I could nitpick, the sum of this game's parts is probably the best RPG video game experience I've ever had.


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    WhiteBoy
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    Re: Skyrim "First Five" Review

    Post  WhiteBoy on February 8th 2012, 3:56 pm

    For anyone interested, Steam has Skyrim for $40 for a bit. This is the cheapest I've seen it to date.

    I want to buy it, but am busy with TOR so I will wait until I'm tired of it and by then price will probably have dropped further.

    WB


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