Late to the party in so many ways.

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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

(Wait, two serious RPGs in just as many weeks?) Is the streak back up? Doubtful; I think next week, I'm gonna do some anime stuff or whatever. But this week, it's Skyrim, that game everybody else played while I was And Yet it Moving and writing blogs absolutely nobody read. What the hell was I doing with my time? Wait, I just said that. Still, I should have been Skyrimming it up, instead.

Or maybe I shouldn't have, given how things begin: bleak as all hell. How bleak? Well, your character has been arrested for...some reason (I don't remember, possibly because the game never tells you), and he's to be put to death. Yet right before he's to be executed, the guards ask him his name. That was were they made their mistake. I was given the opportunity to create my own character, and HOLY SHIT, THERE'S A LOT TO CUSTOMIZE ON THESE GUYS. Chin length, eye depth, dirt (which is apparently a body part), and everything in between. Also, body types, unless you're SpongeBob or something. Think the customization ends there, though? That's probably because you haven't gotten past the actual character creation, but whatever. Point is that there's a lot you can specialize in. Want to stab a guy and then set him aflame? You can do that, you magnificent bastard. Or do you want to snipe a guy from afar while wearing a steel helmet? That's allowed, too. (Fashion is its own skill tree, for some reason.) But it's not all combat, even if it mostly is. You can start a meth lab, stare at fish ass, and so much more. Granted, it can take a lot of work, especially with some of the more obscure ability trees (did anybody specialize in speech?), but in Skyrim, you're free to be anybody you want, if you're willing to put in the work.

Did I mention that all the horses in this game can breathe underwater for no reason? Did ANYBODY mention this?
Did I mention that all the horses in this game can breathe underwater for no reason? Did ANYBODY mention this?

And I was Dickpunch Cockblaster, Khajit Warrior Badass. If there was a dick to be punched, he would blast it; if he met a woman, he would pay for her gender reassignment surgery just so he'd have a cock to blast. (Dick punching is an oddly lucrative career choice, prospective college kids.) I guess this is the part where I talk about combat, but a lot of it was pretty much covered by the last paragraph: pressing the triggers will do a lot of things, depending on what you want to do. But from my experience, you're usually just gonna stick with what you know. There's no real reason to venture outside, say, punching everything you see. (Support magic doesn't count, because you can't kill with support magic.) The only thing tying all these disparate characters together are the dragon shouts you learn over the course of the game, which mostly act as support magic, so....yea....On that note, though, the dragon battles are pretty badass. You'd think that given how many of them there are, they'd get stale, but surprisingly (or perhaps unsurprisingly), punching a dragon in its smug goddamn face never stops being fun. (Part of that may be because of how dumb a dragon looks while talking.) Then again, you don't spend a lot of the game fighting dragons; you spend a lot of it punching rabbits in the woods. So clearly, you don't come to this game for the combat.

So what do you come to it for? The world. Why? Well, there's a lot to do in the world of Skryim. And to prove it, I'll ask you to do something. Go pop Skyrim into your 360 or whatever right now. (I realize that's skipping a step, but just do it.) Now try to walk from one mission objective to another. Did you make it? Of course you didn't! You were too busy exploring all the dungeons and forts and shit to remember that there's a story in the first place. What are you going to do? Discover a location and not plunder its depths for all the cool shit you think lies within? Yea, right. You're gonna jump the fuck in, punch a skeleton in the face, steal/sell his sword, and love it, damn it. That's what Skyrim's all about! Though I'm not sure Bethesda entirely knew that the exploration was so awesome. What mean me? One thing: they don't want you mountain climbing. Why, Bethesda? Climbing a mountain is the manliest thing you could possibly do in this game. Nothing feels better than climbing a mountain so you can scream a Frost Troll off it and watch its bones splatter on the pristine snow beneath. Don't put invisible walls between me and that precious monkey blood.

You know, given this and the rampant Swedish accents in the game, it's very easy to assume you're playing a Metalocalypse RPG, despite the modding community ignoring such a fantasy.
You know, given this and the rampant Swedish accents in the game, it's very easy to assume you're playing a Metalocalypse RPG, despite the modding community ignoring such a fantasy.

I guess to make up for that, though, all kinds of cool stuff happens over the course of the game. No, not the set pieces, which can vary from cool to stupid; I'm talking about the random shit unique to your experience. Perhaps an example will help. This.....Perhaps another example is necessary. As I mentioned before, Dickpunch Cockblaster loves to punch dick, and the guards of Riften learned this lesson the hard way. (In fact, all guards everywhere learned that lesson, but I wish to focus on Riften.) They had had enough of my cock blasting ways, and decided that I would find it very difficult to punch without fists. They were wrong. Even in the midst of a dragon battle, I was able to blast every dick in sight. Speaking of dragons, shortly thereafter, the game recognized what I was doing as amazing, and decided to award me with a dragon's eternal soul. The Riften guards haven't touched me, since. THIS SHIT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME FOR EVERYBODY EVER. I can't even pretend to predict what will happen to you. Maybe you'll steal a farmer's harvest and then sell it back to his stupid ass. Or maybe your killer will recognize you only after you are dead. Who the hell knows? It's your story, af-

SHIT! In my retelling of Dickpunch's adventures, I completely forgot to relay the story to you! Where did I leave off before? Something about being executed? Well, turns out I didn't escape through punch, because contrary to popular belief, Dickpucnh Cockblaster can't punch you with his hands tied behind his back. Instead, a dragon arrived and wrecked shit up just for the hell of it. There's just one problem with that (dragons wrecking shit up is never a problem): dragons should be extinct. It's up to you to find out why that's not the case, and I do mean you. You see, unlike its predecessor, this story is all about you. Don't be fooled by those other characters; they're only there as decorations that make you look stupid. Skyrim is all about you. Plot? Fuck that; you have dragons to yell at. Pacing? You pace the game, damn it! Atmosphere? T...actually, the atmosphere in this game is pretty goddamn good. It's medieval as hell and feels like everybody has just given up on life; the perfect conditions for the Dovahkiin. And I'm pretty sure that Bethesda knew about this, because look at how much work they put into this game. Hell, the dragons have their own language, and it feels like an actual language. If none of the previous rambling has convinced you to get Skyrim, and that failed, too, then I'd like to introduce you to a friend of mine. I think you've met him already.

Review Synopsis

  • Skyrim is where you can be anybody you want to be. Except Don King, apparently.
  • And you can explore anywhere you want, too, so long as it isn't a mountain.
  • There's also a story. I really can't think of any limits that imposes on you.
  • Can somebody tell me what this arrow in the knee business is about? I got arrowed a lot, and while I'm sure a few of those were in the knee, I don't ever remember falling over in pain.

For those wishing for a cheaper alternative to the Skyrim experience, the following game does absolutely nothing to deliver on that promise I just made up.

Dead Rising 2

(Long ago, in the days of old (just last year), I encountered the dead rising from the dead.) Predictably, it repulsed me beyond comprehension, largely because of the bullshit story, ugly characters, helpless partner AI, and so many other issues. Unfortunately, Capcom interpreted that as "I want more Dead Rising", and decided to make another Dead Rising game. (Actually, they probably interpreted it as "you probably should have voiced those complaints at least nine months earlier".) Good news on this one, though: they managed to get it right this time around.

Except with the story, which turns out to be racist. Like, really racist, you guys. We start several years after the events of Dead Rising 1, and dear god, is it willing to reference that fact. However, we're not at that point, yet, as that's more in the middle of the story; right now, we're dealing with Charlton Heston literally mowing down zombies for viewer pleasure. But it's OK, because he's economically forced into it to buy anti-zombie medicine for his daughter. Plus there's a civil rights group telling everybody that killing zombies is bad (when they're not campaigning against Baby Seal Baseball, of course)? Hooray! Somebody's finally sticking up for the undera....what's that? That civil rights group is depicted more as ready extremists than reasonable individuals? And the zombies are a mindless horde after all? Oh, for fuck's sake. Show me one goddamn rule about zombification that tells me that zombies are supposed to be lumbering dumbasses. Why do they of all people get this second class citizen treatment? Oh, they don't have dreams or emotions or feelings or the capacity to think. They're just mindless, brain-eating automatons we can guiltlessly kill. Hell, why else did they come back to life if they didn't want to die again anyway? IS THAT WHAT YOU GODDAMN THINK!?!?.....Uh....uh....

Did this woman eat dry wall or something? What's going on with her throat?
Did this woman eat dry wall or something? What's going on with her throat?

...That aside, though, the story still isn't too strong. The third act looks like somebody took a BB gun to it, and the premise doesn't make a ton of sense. Take a look at the beginning cutscenes. Look at how much control the general populace has over these zombies. They're so not a problem that there's a TV show dedicated to killing them. And then a zombie outbreak occurs. What the hell, you guys? How could that even happen? Yes, it was hard to predict that the zombies would escape, but since they were locked up in the first place, you had to have some means of rounding them up without killing every non-zombie in the process. Hell, it's established pretty early that there are people all over the country with zombieism, and I know that at least some of them eventually choose to become zombies; how the hell is that managed? I'd very much like to know that.

In fact, one of those closet zombies is your daughter, Gameplay Mechanic Green. You see, she needs anti-zombie medicine every day at a very specific time, and if you don't-what's the point of this feature again? Seriously, I don't get why this was included. Is it motivation to get me back at base? The same base I'm gonna see anyway because of the story and the fact that I have to drag all the survivors back there? The only real difference there is that I'm fetching an item instead of a person, so it's just a tad redundant. Or is it meant to make me sympathize with the protagonist's daughter (whom you'd only see thrice because of this)? I think she'd have it hard enough being a seven year old girl surrounded by face-eating zombies. The only reason I can think for including this is to relate to Chuck in the first place. And trust me: the poor bastard needs it. He's got all the emotion of a particularly callous bagel, which isn't exactly the attitude you want to have when you're slicing up zombies. It makes you look like a goddamn psychopath.

And that just scares the shit out of poor old Chuckie.
And that just scares the shit out of poor old Chuckie.

Then again, the actual psychopaths are pretty well executed in this game. Man, these are some fucked up individuals. Just look at this redneck stereotype, for example. (Yea, if you're from the South....this game hates your guts.) Look at how quickly things go to shit for this guy. Hell, it's almost like he was on the edge already and he's using this zombie breakout as a cheap excuse to go fucking crazy. Now imagine that there's an entire world filled with people like this. That's more terrifying than anything else in the game.....I mean that in a good way, you know...I think. And then you have to fight them, at which point they pigfuck you to death. I also think. My point is that these fights are gonna kick your ass time and time again. In fact, I think there was only one boss I killed on my first try. (Of course, my memory is shitty, as I've just told you.) If you want these guy dead (and given the EXP these bastards drop, you do), you're gonna have to get creative.

Which is the entire point of the combat system. OH MY GOD, YOU GUYS, THE FUCKING COMBAT. As much as I hate the treatment zombies get in this game, you gotta admit it's pretty fun killing them. (If you ignore the racism, of course.) I'm guessing it's because of how many ways there are to kill them. Melee weapons, ranged weapons, heavy weapons, crowd control weapons, ramming weapons, emotionally scarring weapons, and so much more. I had trouble completing some of the goals in this game simply because I'd waste so much time trying to kill zombies with a magazine. What? Everything else is a weapon, so why not that? And that's not even getting into the weapons you make yourself. For as many weapons as you can find, there's usually just as many that can be made deadlier with a box of nails. Now, truth be told, you're probably gonna stick to the knife gloves because nothing else can cut through crowds as easily, but it's still all kinds of fun tasering a crowd of zombies with a Blanka helmet.

Oh, and you also have to rescue people or something. Now remember how in Dead Rising, rescuing survivors sucked ass because their only form of defense was a weak cough and they could get lost even if they weren't moving and those convicts would always mow them down for no reason and FUCK YOU DEAD RISING. Well, they fixed that. Big time. They can find you pretty easily in a crowd and they know that zombies don't want hugs. Hell, I could leave them to ride a mechanical dolphin or fight a psychopath, and they'd probably be able to bash some zombie brains in. Granted, a lot of this is because you don't handle large crowds too often (I think the most I had at one time was four, and I was barreling through crowds with one), and those could potentially create some issues, but that's not the point. The point is that actually playing the game isn't a pain in the ass now. Hooray for that! Oh, and hooray for the rest of the game, I guess.

Review Synopsis

  • Man, fuck the zombie racism in this game.
  • Man, fuck the guy who said fuck the zombie racism in this game.
  • The survivors are not fucked.
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