Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Spanning across two decades, The Elder Scrolls franchise has been at the forefront of the RPG genre since the original release in 1996. We've explored the Breton homeland of High Rock in Daggerfall, the Dunmer Province of Vvardenfell in Morrowind, the Imperial Capital of Cyrodiil in Oblivion and now, Skyrim, the home of the fearless Nords. The world of Tamriel is always an exciting place, ever changing and evolving and with each game comes promises of new ground-breaking features but does Skyrim measure up to the hype?

The Beginning
As is traditional with the series, you begin your time in Tamriel as a shackled prisoner slowly approaching certain death at the hands of the Imperials. You've stumbled into the middle of a war and got caught somewhere you shouldn't be, the price, death. You're pushed to your knees, your head resting on the cold wood, the axe of the executioner reflects the shine of the sun as it's lifted high above your head. But before he can deliver the fatal blow, a creature known only as myth and legend swoops down from the skies, its breath exploding with fire and it is then that you're introduced to the first real dragon in the Elder Scrolls franchise. The beginning of the game sets an epic tone, buildings are getting destroyed, the dragon is hot on your heals the entire way, all the while you're working with your captives to escape alive.

When you've finally escaped the horror of the dragon, you're introduced into a world of true opportunity. Featuring over 20 square miles of beautifully rendered landscape Skyrim is bigger than both Morrowind and Oblivion and thanks to the new improvements to the Creation Engine, the graphics are truly next generation.

A Whole New World
The Elder Scrolls is most famous for it's non-linear approach, offering players complete freedom within the game world. This is enhanced even more so in Skyrim, players can choose to totally ignore the main quest line while they explore dungeons, climb mountains, work for divine Daedric beings, or simply live the humble life of a miner or forester. There is no right or wrong way to the play the game and the new perks system allows players to create the type of character they want to play, not the type that can get your through the game.

The game follows it predecessors in terms of activity and choices, you can literally spend 50 hours running around the game world and accomplish practically nothing. Players are able to choose the life they wish, you can join the Dark Brotherhood in a plot to assassinate the Emperor, rob the rich blind with the Thieves Guild, squash a rebellion with the Imperial Legion or lead a rebellion against a tyrannous power. Players can choose to accomplish all of it, none of it, or anything between. There is no other game that offers such variety of game-play and opportunities.

A lot of fan favorite features return and a number of new systems were also implemented such as housing, crafting and the ability to duel wield spells and weapons. Players can craft literally any armor, weapon or piece of jewelery they like and can then use their skills to enchant it with powerful elemental abilities or restoration magic. Houses are a lot more useful, featuring weapon racks, glass cases, a home for your wife and the shelves even automatically place books for you now. I spent countless hours arranging my houses in previous Elder Scrolls games so it's nice Bethesda is willing to save me some time stacking books and making weapons and armor look jazzy.

One of the most discussed new features is the introduction of Dragons and Dragon Shouts. A Dragon can attack at any time, whether you're sitting behind a tree waiting for that perfect time to send a small deer to Oblivion or shopping at your local Blacksmith's. There are a number of scripted Dragon events that occur throughout the story but for the most part, you'll come across the random ones. These fights are truly epic, the dragons can attack anything and everything, from Spiders to City Guards. I'd just finished dinner with my wife after which she decided to go for a walk, shortly after she was barbecued and tossed aside like a rag doll. As you slay more Dragons, you absorb their souls, you can spend these souls on learning various Dragon Shouts. These aren't as exciting as many first thought as some offer features that were basic magic in previous games, such as an AoE fire attack or show life spell but some do add some interesting elements to the game. The ability to send several foes flying with knock back, summoning ancient forces to aid you and even summoning a Dragon are among the more interesting aspects of the Dragon Shout system. Personally, I feel as this is a small taste of things to come, I would expect a similar feature in the next Elder Scrolls but with obvious improvements, I'd watch this space.

It's Not Perfect
Elder Scrolls V: SkyrimI would love to be able to sit here and sing nothing but praise for Skyrim, the game deserves it and is clearly one of the defining titles of this generation but Bethesda haven't got it all right. They've totally remade the leveling and skill system and not for the better. Previous games utilized both a stat based and skill based progression system, allowing players to improve both as they move through the game. Skyrim doesn't allow for any changes to base stats outside of gear and buffs, instead your spend points in skill trees. It works, there's still hundreds of variations of characters and you can still become god-like with enough effort but it does seem to feel a little hollow compared to Morrowind and Oblivion.

Then there's the new magic system, or should I say lack of one. Previous games allowed a lot more customization with magic, I remember exploring Vvardenfell with armor that automatically summoned several Golden Saints and a sword that created a 100ft explosion on contact, sadly none of this is possible in Skyrim. Although you can still create your own spells and effects it is quite clear that the developers have limited the options to a more realistic level. It's hard to fault it as it was very easy to totally break Morrowind and Oblivion with enchanted armor and weapons so one can understand why they've added the restraints but the Elder Scrolls series has always been about innovation and moving forward, this is one area in the game they failed to accomplish either.

Bottom Line
Skyrim is definitely one of the top contenders for GOTY, when compared to other favorites such as L.A Noire, BF3, MW3 and Uncharted 3, it stands in another league entirely. The game is not perfect, anything of this size is bound to have issues and people have already reported game altering exploits and glitches but Skyrim is still an amazingly unique experience and offers more re-playability than any title released in recent years. If you've not played it yet, what are you waiting for? If you have played it, what are your thoughts? Leave a comment.

Article by - Blaine Smith

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Comments

skyrim

Best game ever . I thought I did not have an addictive personality . but skyrim proved me wrong . I recommend this game to all . It is more of an experience than a game . happy hunting.

the best game i have ever played

this is the best game ever played you can do the complex quest line that makes you think the story comes right out of a fairy tale or you can do the hundreds of side quests(literally hundreds)or just roam around and kill people rob peoples houses kill dragons explore hundreds of ancient ruins or visit beautiful cities mountains this game beats any other competition if you dont have this game you should buy it i can only say that there is one thing wrong with this game,you will sit and sit and sit for hours,every free minute you get you will want to play it and when you dont have a free moment you will think of what you will do when you play it

FXAA

PC gamers, being PC gamers, have a habit of wanting everything visually sharp.

"I want sharp graphics"
"I want sharp textures"
"There's too much jaggies"
"f it's not 16xAA + 16XGSAA (on and on and on) then it's ugly"

PC gamers are their own worst enemy.They are given everything and they just want more of it, because essentially, they have it.

Here's how to experience Skyrim at its best:
Enable FXAA in the Skyrim Options menu (so use FXAA as provided by Bethesda) and completely disable MSAA altogether in the nVdia Control Panel (and the Skyrim Options of course).

Don't use InjectorFXAA by the mod crowd. Although they have default and additive settings to enhance Skyrim, all I have found is that it, well you know, basically buggers the game up and slows it down. The Contrast and Sharpening options are just terrible.

That "Green" tint some complain about (and Skyrim not having enough of a Blue tint) is the level of stupidity PC gamers will go before they realise that that Green tint to Skyrim is meant to be there.
Like I said, PC gamers; if they find something they can improve, they'll do it even if they're blind to the fact that they're crapping on the Mona Lisa because it's too Red.

One day, the PC gaming community will respect developers like Bethesda, and how deadlines and limits to what they can achieve are put there so it does not fail during the development process. That everyone gets paid, and it's guaranteed to succeed.

Because if PC gamers keep going on about what they say about PC developers and how it's "not enough and could have been better", they're going to be complaining at them from the view of Console developers in the very near future -
and they won't come back.

Limited

Skyrim is worth buying, even if:

a) Bethesda's code programmers are limited; the work of improvements to their custom-Gamebryo engine they have made should be commended, because it is significantly better than anything Oblivion could ever do
b) the game world doesn't seem all that big compared to Oblivion, but what it does do is apply absolutely breathtaking post-processing effects; you simply won't believe how misty cloud formations rolling over Mountain ranges completely makes you wonder why on earth something like the Frostbite2 engine doesn't do it better
c) the gameplay is the same as Oblivion (and by the same, I mean exactly); decapitations are plain stupid along with time-slow events that are triggered by Perks)
d) it's purely DX9; I have found no evidence that it even supports basic DX10 code paths - none; if there are DX10 code paths being used, I can only think they were used for the Spell Effects - which are quite dramatic, but not all of them. Fireball really is exactly what you'd expect a Fireball to do; and Master spells like Blizzard are astonishing. The spell effects do give you the sense that they are impacting solidly to the ground and enemies.

The other thing to note to every PC Gamer out there is how wondering how in the hell they fit this entire game into 5>6Gb. It's simply unbelievable. I know the textures are good (and good enough), but the post-processing effects hide them well enough that you simply won't notice or care.

PC Gamers who know what they're doing and have configured their PC purely for games will get an experience out of Skyrim that might surprise you. I have never experienced any problem, and when I do, it's because I have been playing for 3 hours non-stop and then suddenly, I am at the Desktop - it's as quick as that. It's like I cleanly shut the game down (it autosaves from 5 mins if you set it anyway).

Skyrim is strongly CPU bound (CPU limited), so if you have an Intel i5-2500k, which can easily get to 4Ghz with no effort, you will probably get 50% more performance from 3.33Ghz as long as it's coupled to memory timings of 8-8-8-24 "1T" and it's high quality memory.

The GPU can be nVidia's GTX460 (1Gb) - like Gigabyte's SOC - and High Settings will return 60fps locked - but there are parts of the map (design) and dungeons, where for some reason, the frames drop; but I am absolutely certain that this is not the custom-Gamebryo engine, it's a map design fault leaking data, and should get fixed by Bethesda.

Bethesda could have done so much more, but for some reason, they did enough just so it tops Oblivion.
Oblivion should not have been the stepping-stone for Skyrim; it should have been "DX10 full code-path, or bust".

7/10

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