Bethesda have perfected the formula
If I had to use one word to sum up The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the sequel to Bethesda's critically acclaimed 2006 game Oblivion, that word is epic. Although to use only one word to describe a game so large and detailed seems almost unfair. You can quite easily spend 100 hours exploring Skyrim’s rich Nordic world discovering bustling towns populated by chattering pedestrians, joining secret guilds, crafting potions, marrying a local, attending a college of magic and so much more. All that without even touching the main story quests.
Exploring the land and discovering its various activities and locations is one of the best aspects of the game. Skyrim immerses you in a way that gives the feeling of being in a living, breathing world. What's equally impressive is that you can play the game in any way you like, if you want to be an archer you can be an archer, if you want to be a mage, a thief, a warrior - these are all equally viable options for you.
The freedom of choice on offer to you is apparent as soon as the game begins and you are asked to create a character. There are 10 races and 18 skills (as well as the various ways you can customise your character’s appearance) to choose from in the game and if, like me, you’re an indecisive person, this process could take a while.
Soon after you have created your character you will encounter your first dragon. The dragons are one of the biggest new additions to the series and the focus of the main storyline. Killing one of theses giant creatures rewards you with a new “Shout” - a power which, when activated, will have various effects ranging from fire and ice attacks to disarming your enemies or slowing time.
Unlike some large open-world games, Skyrim's visuals are great, with spell effects and epic vistas being particular highlights. The menus are well streamlined, making inventory management much more bearable than it has been in Bethesda's past efforts. This level of quality is also seen in the game's audio design. Skyrim's orchestral score is suitably grand and the voice acting is believable, although some lines of dialogue are repeated.
Bethesda RPGs are well known for their glitches, and Skyrim is no exception. The game crashed on a few occasions during my time playing it but thankfully it autosaves regularly so you won't lose too much progress if this happens. There are also some long load times and I encountered a few other animation and graphical bugs, but these minor issues are easily overshadowed by great gameplay, a stirring soundtrack, fantastic graphics, a massive world and tons of content. If you're a fan of RPGs, Skyrim is one not to be missed.