The lights are on
The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim offers an experience unexcelled from any form of competition. Bethesda has been able to capture what makes this series undeniable great, and tweak many of the gameplay mechanics to generate a timeless classic.
Let me start off with the overall presentation. The world around you is beautiful, and Skyrim offers many locales that will force you to stop what you are doing and soak it in. You can witness the sun glistening off the ice covered mountain peaks that merge into densely wooded forests. From high up, you can see the rivers cut through the landscape like blue veins. Upon closer inspection, one will find salmon jumping up waterfalls with bears gathered close by to feed on the slower fish (or wary traveller). The cities sprawl all throughout the landscape, places of interest and closely packed population, held together by beautiful architecture. Indeed, the newly touted graphics engine gives the land of Skyrim an unforgettable image that still will cause me to hesitate from time to time to just look out and watch the scenery.
Combat in The Elder Scrolls games has always been a necessity for progress, but tended to feel stiff, nothing fluid about the animations or hit boxes. Skyrim changes most of this with the new interface on dealing with enemies. Being able to control both hands, some rather uncanny combinations can arise for strategy. To look down the shaft of an arrow into the eyes of the marching undead brings a smile to the face of any veteran or newbie alike. Jump head first into a fight with a dragon while dual-wielding two swords, or simply staying back while simultaneously hurling fire and snow magicka are all possible now, as the player is given a plethora of options that is no where near underwhelming. Also, everything from enemy models to armor and weapons looks nothing short of impressive. The combat animations have been greatly improved to provide a more intense feeling of battle. The targeting can get sketchy at times, especially when your opponents vastly outnumber and out arm you. As always, combining the vast skill trees will yield remarkable results so as to not make you feel inadequate or underpowered.
The quests and objectives in Skyrim are captivating, often including ever-expanding mini-stories that can deter you from the main storyline with ease. Guilds and associations offer many tasks with exceptional rewards for the exploration-starved players. These quests will send you all over Skyrim, and rarely be centralized to one region. This allows you to explore other cities, camps or delve deep into the numerous dungeons. Often times, a dungeon will appear as just any regular dungeon until you stumble across a journal written by an unlucky previous adventurer that reveals a dark past about what (or who) might still be in the deep bowels. This along with many other quest-giving components generate an experience easy to lose yourself in for hours.
Skyrim offers a fresh experience that gives the player an overwhelming amount of content that is delivered in a very beautiful format. Menus are forgettable (this is a good thing, a very very good thing) and gameplay is much more streamlined. This game offers a gaming experience likely to be unrivaled until the next inevitable The Elder Scrolls title.
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