The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Review (Xbox 360)
You’ll need to crawl dungeons for magic scrolls that you can read to learn new magical powers, or else you can buy some in shops. Nobody is going to just hand these over to you. Too, you’ll only find new dragon shout words in dungeons, and you’ll definitely want those, and dungeons are the place to find potions without paying out the ass for them at the shops. Some of these are really cool; I found one potion that turned be invisible for a time.
The best magic, really, you’ll find in dungeons, although you can probably get what you need from the college of magic in Winterhold. Speaking of which, the College of Winterhold was probably my favorite part of the game, as I normally went through it magic-less. Studying at the college serves as a magic tutorial of sorts, which I enjoyed, and Winterhold is in the snowy far north surrounded by glaciers, and so it was–for me–in the best area of the world. You’ll want to try out the college as soon as you can.
Technically speaking, the game is certainly an accomplishment, and not just because they managed to fit this entire massive world on a single disc. They also managed to make it look good, particularly next to the muddy visuals of Oblivion and Fallout 3. While textures do lose detail when you look at them them too closely, they look gorgeous from every other distance.
And people look good, too. The old joke goes that you couldn’t make attractive people on the old engine, but that’s certainly not the case here. The character creator is far more nuanced and effective this time around; my cat person looked positively delicious, and, finally, humans look like humans.
Perhaps most profound of all, I found no bugs in this game during the entirety of my time with it. At this point we expect Bethesda games to ship filled with goofs, but there are none that I could see. I have heard about some minor bugs in the PC version, but my Xbox 360 copy seems to be bug-free. So that’s great.
There are a few aspects of the game that haven’t really been improved from Oblivion, which are the voice acting and character animations. Characters move just as stiffly as always, and the voice actors tend to speak lines like they’re reading them for the first time. The major exception to that is veteran screen actor Max Von Sydow, who reads his lines like he’s having fun with the part. It was a delight to hear him talk, particularly next to all the other punchless actors in the game.
That brings me to my biggest complaint about the game: the dialogue options. Quite simply, the dialogue in Skyrim is hardly dynamic, as most of your options simply allow for more detailed exposition from the characters you’re speaking with. There is the rare occasion where you need to convince somebody of something, and those conversations are fun, but for the most part the dialogue is superfluous.
Those complaints I have, though, are so slight when put next to the grandeur that is every other aspect of this game. Skyrim is that rare game that I will keep playing long after the time I spent playing it for this review ends, and that’s the best compliment I can think of to pay a game like this.
You want Skyrim. It’s just about everything you wanted from a new Elder Scrolls game, and it has dragons, too. What more could you ask for?
- Immersive, thoroughly engaging game world
- It’s one of the biggest games I’ve ever played in terms of content
- Max von Sydow does great work
- I enjoyed fighting dragons
- No bugs
- Dialogue options usually seems superfluous
- The main story could be more engrossing
Final Score: 90/100
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