Video Game Review: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim [Xbox 360]

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim [Xbox 360]

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
System: Xbox 360 (also on PS3 and PC)
Genre: Role-Playing
Publisher: Bethesda Game Studios
Developer: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date: November 11, 2011

For the last few weeks, Skyrim has been owning my soul. Other video games have taken a backseat to the massive, incomparable world of Bethesda Softworks’ latest RPG. Despite warnings from others, I didn’t expect this to happen. Sure, I had played and enjoyed Oblivion, but I was able to expand my playing time with that one by spreading it out over months. With Skyrim, I was hooked, line and sinker.

I have put about 30 hours into Skyrim so far, and I still feel like I have barely scratched its surface. Better yet, I am still *eager* to play more. This is a rarity with me, especially when it comes to single player games. Usually I will tear through the main campaign or quest line, work on some random side quests here and there, and then move on to something else. I have a habit of trying to maximize my time by playing as many new games as possible. With Skyrim, that all went out the window.

Much of that credit goes to the impressive in-game world that allows for a seemingly infinite amount of possibilities. After starting the game and going through its mandatory opening sequence (in a nutshell, you are about to be beheaded before a dragon appears and wipes out the town), you are then dropped into this world alone with the freedom to do whatever you like. There is a quest to start, sure, but you can just skip this entirely if you wish. I felt obligated to check out the nearby town, as recommended, but after that I just said “screw it” and started wandering around on my own.

One of my favorite aspects of Skyrim, and possibly the biggest curse to some, is that it is so easy to get sidetracked. I tend to start up a quest and head out in that direction, only to find a new enticing path or cave or dungeon or whathaveyou, which I promptly decide is of greater importance to explore. The ability to just get lost in the game world and explore whatever looks appealing is simply amazing. See that mountain in the distance? Go ahead and climb it. Wait, is that a sunken ship in that lake over there? Shit, I need to check that out. Oh wait, there’s a bandit lair on that ridge. I bet they have some good loot.

Skyrim’s countless questlines (divided into main, side and miscellaneous) provide all sorts of opportunities to explore new locations as well. The quests offer a wide variety of stories to go with them, offering you the opportunity to join more “evil” factions if you desire. Two mainstays from Oblivion make welcome reappearances: the Dark Brotherhood (where you act as a hitman/assassin for hire) and the Thieves Guild (where you use stealth capabilities while stealing from others). Throw in all sorts of oddball errands and requests, including many of which that are just bizarre and/or hilarious, and you have all the makings for a game that never gets old.

Perhaps best of all is that your character is entirely customizable, meaning you can play the way that *you* want to regardless of your selected race. Be a warrior, a mage, a necromancer, a thief, a marksman. Whatever you like. There are dozens of perks available to help level up your character in your envisioned mold. You can even find areas scattered around the various in-game towns to create your own potions, weapons and equipment. Hell, if you feel like doing menial labor jobs, there are options to do that as well.

All of this is presented in a beautiful, snowy Nordic environment. No matter where you turn, you are bound to find some sort of eye candy, whether it be breathtaking waterfalls, lakes covered in ice, or blizzardous mountains. Skyrim’s visuals are a huge improvement over Oblivion — just wait until you happen across a late-night aurora borealis. I don’t know if there is a better game that captures the cold, wintry feel present in Skyrim.

If it isn’t clear by now, I love this game. Skyrim holds its own against the last two Fallout games, both of which are personal favorites of mine, and its fantasy setting lends itself to all sorts of possibilities. There are some bugs to be found, such as characters/enemies getting stuck on walls and/or disappearing, as well as issues with graphical draw-ins, but these are to be expected with an in-game world this vast. These problems are incredibly minute in scope, and do not hinder the overall gameplay experience in any way.

Simply put, Skyrim is fantastic. Just be warned: this may consume your life.


15 thoughts on “Video Game Review: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim [Xbox 360]

  1. Gary Smith says:

    Excellent review Eric, and I totally agree with practically everything you’ve said here. It really is a massive and wonderful world to explore. I haven’t touched it months, but that’ll probably change once Dawnguard makes its way to PS3.

    • Eric says:

      Thanks, man! I guess I picked a good time to get into Skyrim, now that Dawnguard has been released. I may hold off on picking that up until I feel satisfied with my normal playthrough, though. I still have an insane amount of quests open in my game log.

    • Eric says:

      Yeah, it’s almost absurd just how much time you can sink into a game like Skyrim. Now I understand how people can put in hundreds of hours…

  2. ruth says:

    Wow, sounds like a fantastic game. My brother might be playing this already, ahah. He’s a gamer but I have no idea what kind of games he’s playing these days.

    • Eric says:

      If your brother is a big gamer, there’s a pretty good chance he has already tore through this game. I’m about six months late to this party. 😀

    • Eric says:

      You nailed it. I don’t know how much longer I will be able to get away with playing games like this so I am going to enjoy them while I can.

  3. paulbowler says:

    I’ve been playing Skyrim for a few months now, its such a brilliant game. I don’t normally like RPG’s but Skyrim had me hooked from the start. The quests are brilliant and the Dragon battles are amazing! 10/10

    • Eric says:

      Oh man, yeah, it’s always fun to stumble upon a dragon. Always an epic battle. I’m not a huge RPG guy either, but I was hooked pretty quick with Skyrim. Sounds like we had a similar reaction to this one. Thanks for commenting!

  4. gotounknown says:

    Ah, the vast RPGs! Hehe, I see you point out the dangers of being trapped in the game many times in the review 🙂 I haven’t dared to try this one out yet, since as you say it might consume your life! On the other hand, it is also a wonderful thing to play in a game world for a long period of time. It feels as if you are almost living in the fictional space, with all its areas, people and “happenings”. I sometimes feel the same with the Zelda games; although far from the size of Skyrim, it is still a pleasure to really “dive” into the other world for a while (or 100s of hours!!) and just immerse yourself completely 🙂

    Good review man! Keep us updated on your progress or any cool findings in the game 🙂

    • Eric says:

      Oh man, yeah it would be incredibly easy to dump hundreds of hours into Skyrim (and still have so much to do!). It’s an amazing world, but it can get very addictive. I’m taking a break from it right now so I don’t burn out, and right now Max Payne 3 is occupying my time. Another great game, BTW. 😀

  5. ratchet7764 says:

    Great review! I think you nailed it on the head. This is one of my favorite games of all time. Quite the masterpiece. I also love how much Bethesda streamlined menus, skills, and attributes that were already so great in Oblivion. Looking forward to the next review!

    • Eric says:

      Thank you! Yeah, the menu system really is well-designed. It makes it so easy to get around and find what you’re looking for. Skyrim is definitely one of this generation’s best games, one of my favorites as well.

      My next video game review will likely be Max Payne 3, or maybe Chrono Trigger once I finally beat the last boss. 🙂 Thanks for the comment, and hope to see you around!

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