An RPG Masterpiece
NOTE: This review is being written after the updates on PS3, so the frame rate issue along with other bugs has been fixed and will not be in the review as they are no longer an issue.
-Huge and beautiful world to explore that is filled with great variety and detail
-Dragon fights are epic
-Combat, Magic, and Stealth gameplay mechanics are solid
-Complete freedom to play who you want and how you want
-Insane amount of gameplay and replay value
-Good graphics and art direction
-AI is good
-Can be a little glitchy
Let's get it out the way, Skyrim is one of the greatest games you will ever experience. It is vast, it is immersive, it is epic, it is lengthy, it has great gameplay and graphics, and it's easily the best game of the Elder Scrolls series. This is a game that you do not want to miss. You need to buy Skyrim, period.
Skyrim begins with you getting captured and being led to your execution. Skyrim is currently going through a bloody Civil War between The Empire who want to keep Skyrim as a province, and the Storm Cloaks who want to break away from the Empire's rule. And you are caught up in the middle of this struggle as the Emprie has captured you for crossing the border into Skyrim and has mistaken you for a Storm Cloak. As they call you up to the chopping block they ask you where you are from and it is here where you create your character. The character creation is much better in Skyrim than the past games in the series, it's also much more simple (but in a good way). All the 10 races from the past elder scrolls games have returned, but one good improvement that they made to the races this time around is that none of them have any negative stats or aspects. This makes picking a race far easier and more fun as you don't have to worry too much, you just pick a race that you like and one that benefits your play style you want, and then your off! Just before that however you are free to completely customize your characters appearance, and fortunately you have a pretty large set of tools to do this. You can give your character face paint or change the shape of his eyes or the tone of his skin etc... you can even change his body type (big, skinny etc), this has zero effect on gameplay, but it's a nice touch. But one of the many great elements of Skyrim is the freedom to play any character you want. Want to be a brave knight who swings a sword and wears thick armor? Or a sneaky assassin who stalks his prey? Or a powerful magic user that can bring a wide arsenal of spells? Or something else? You can be anything you can imagine in Skyrim, and the best part is that there is no wrong way to play it.
Immediately after you create your character the fun really starts, the older Elder Scroll games had pretty slow paced intros, but not Skyrim! Right after you make your person a Dragon attacks and starts killing everyone, tt is during this chaos where you attempt to make your escape, and it is here where you will get to try out all types of gameplay styles, from fighting with swords and axes to shooting and throwing fire and sneaking and sniping with a bow. Each of these unique gameplay types work great and are fun to play with, whatever way you prefer playing is up to you, and that's the beauty of Skyrim. There is no wrong way to play Skyrim, just play how you feel the most comfortable. And thanks to no longer having a "class" system, you don't have to worry about wether or not you chose the right skills for your character, in Skyrim you define your character by how you play. Each skill is unique, useful, and fun to use. You still level up the same way as you did in past Elder Scroll games by increasing your skills through use, but this time it's a bit different. Gone are the stats like Strength, Intelligence, Agiltiy etc...now in Skyrim you only get 3 stats to choose from when you reach a new level, Magic, Health, and Stamina. This is a good change and makes leveling up much more fun and simple, you don't have to worry about having to choose the right stat for the right skill, you just choose the stat that you want the most, Magic obviously increases the number of magic points that you have, Health increases your maximum health points and how much you can carry, and Stamina increases your stamina points which let's you sprint faster and longer, and how effective your attacks are in combat before you get fatigued. This system works great and really makes you feel like you are in charge of how your character progresses.
Another new addition in Skyrim are perks,the way it works is that each skill has it's own perk tree with it's own unique perks within it. You unlock a perk each time you level up and you can pick a perk of your choice from whatever skill you wish, provided you have the right skill level and got the previous perks that lead up to it first. For instance there is a perk for the Destruction skill called Duel Casting which let's you cast a more powerful version of the same Destruction spell from both hands but combining it to make it more stronger, but in order to get this perk you first have to take the Novice Casting perk and have the right Destruction skill level to unlock it. The system is great and makes leveling up exciting, it doesn't feel like you're not just leveling up a bunch of stats, it feels like you are really developing your character.
Of course you can't talk about an Elder Scrolls game without talking about it's vast world, and Skyrim delivers fully, and it's absolutely beautiful! You can see rivers with fish, wolves stalk and chase deer and elk, mist cascades down from the mountains, trees and plants sway with the wind, smoke from the fire places and forges can be seen from the distance . It's this attention to detail that makes Skyrim come alive, it also helps that the AI has been improved from previous installments and. The AI in Skyrim have realistic conversations about things that are happening in the game, whether it be dragons (more on them later),shopping, farming, or just general gossip, it all feels natural. The AI also goes about day to day life in an interesting fashion, they hunt, sharpen weapons, drink in the bars, chop wood, and all other sorts of tasks that make the people feel alive. The actual physical landscape of Skyrim is massive and varied. From deep and dense pine forests, snow capped rugged mountains, grassy fields and plains, barren tundras, and more, the land of Skyrim is vast and interesting to look at. The villages, towns, and cities are also just as varied and each one has it's own culture and style, and this variety carries over to it's dungeon designs as well. Each dungeon is fun to explore as it's always something different. From ice caves, to forts, to ancient Nord structures, and to dwemer ruins that will make Morrowind veterans feel nostalgic, and more! Each dungeon in Skyrim is it's own unique adventure.
The Elder Scrolls series is well known for providing a great abundance of quests, and Skyrim has no shortage of them. Outside of the epic main quest, you have the faction quests, hours upon hours of side quests, and various miscellaneous quests that never end. Each quest is unique from the last and provides a new experience. As far as factions go you have the Companions, the College of Winterhold, the Dark Brotherhood, and the Thieves Guild. You can also choose to take a side in the Civil War by joining either the Empire or the Storm Cloaks. Each faction guild has it's own interesting storyline and it's own style of quests, the College of Winterhold is all about learning new spells, the Dark Brotherhood and Thieves Guild are stealth based, and the Companions are powerful warriors for hire. This makes Skyrim a game that never get's boring. It's sheer number of things to do, and it's variety, always makes Skyrim a fresh experience. There is more than enough content and variety to keep you busy for a very long time!
And then there are the Dragons. In a word: Epic! Dragons feel like real creatures in Skyrim due to the amount of detail they posses. They have a sense of weight to them, they fly and land and move, Bethesda has succeeded at bringing a fantasy creature to life. Dragons encounters are mostly random and can put up one hell of a fight, so don't expect any easy victories. There are also several types of dragons, each one being of different size, weight, speed, and power. After you slay a dragon you absorb their soul, this allows you to unlock Dragon Shouts, the ability to use speak the language of Dragons and unleash their power. There is quite a variety of different Dragon Shouts to learn and discover, from slowing down time, to changing the weather, to calling down lighting strikes, and to even summoning Dragons to aid you, and much, much more. Dragon Shouts are fun to use and make for a unique experience, and best of all is that each Dragon Shout is upgradable, meaning you can unlock even more deadly and powerful versions of a shout!
Skyrim also boasts a robust combat system, allowing you to equip a weapon, spell, or ability in each hand. This makes combat far more personal and gives you the power to fight however you choose. Do you want to fight with a sword in one hand an axe in the other? Go ahead. Do you prefer dual wielding destructive magic such as a fireball in one hand a lightning blast in the other? Or do you prefer to use a bow instead? Or a a big two handed claymore? Or maybe a shield and mace? Whatever it is, Skyrim offers a near endless amount of combat options. And you will have fun mixing, matching, and trying out new combat strategies. The other gameplay aspects are just as solid,stealth is very well done, so is bartering, crafting, lockpicking, spell casting, and everything else. The gameplay is simply flawless, making Skyrim the best game in the series.
Skyrim does have some bugs however. Early in it's release many users reported a bug in the PS3 version that caused the game to have severe frame rate drops, among other issues that were present in all versions of the game. Thankfully Bethesda has fixed all of these issues and the game plays perfectly, with the occasional minor bug here and there, but nothing game breaking in the slightest. It's very easy to overlook considering the overall quality of the game.
The bottom line is you need to play Skyrim. It provides great gameplay with deep RPG elements and a massive world that you can immerse yourself in forever.
Skyrim get's a 5/5