The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was most console gamers' introduction to Bethesda's line of big RPG's, and nearly every one of them held the game close to their hearts. So when, after an entire 4 years after Oblivion's launch, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was announced with its first trailer at the 2010 VGAs, people got excited, and the hype for the game was kept at extremely high levels all the way up until its launch (it's my theory that this hype was achieved solely by the epic theme). Heck, in the last couple of weeks before it came out, me and my friends would basically greet each other by randomly exclaiming "Skyrim!", we were so hyped for it.

However, I have a quick confession to make before I move on. This was my first game in the series. I did play Fallout 3, but I never got around to playing any of the Elder Scrolls games and figured Skyrim would be a good place to start the series. Now to answer the question I'm here to answer: was this game worth the hype? My answer is a resounding yes, and that's saying a lot considering its giant hype.

First off, the premise, in case you don't know. The game takes place in Skyrim, which is one of the providences of Tamriel, the world of Elder Scrolls. Your character, which you can completely customize any way you want, is about to be beheaded in a town at the southern border called Helgen because of some sort of misunderstanding. Then, right when you're about to get your head cut off, a dragon, thought to have only been legend, suddenly attacks the town. The old dragons have returned to Skyrim, and after escaping Helgen and learning that you're a Dragonborn, you set out to stop them.

With a premise like that--go kill dragons and stuff--you're probably thinking, "That sounds like a weak setup" (or you're thinking, "That sounds amazing!", depending on how you're looking at it), but the main quest line is actually really interesting, and its quest design is very fun. I can't say more without spoiling anything, and I really don't want to because it's fun to experience it fresh. The side-quests are equally fun and interesting.

One of the bigger ones is the conflict between the Empire of Tamriel and the Stormcloaks. The Stormcloaks are rebelling against the Empire because they banned the worship of one of the nine divines, their argument being that he was diverting too much attention from the other eight divines. While that's a good enough cause for rebellion, the Stormcloaks are also very, very racist. They treat anyone who isn't a Nord (local of Skyrim) as intruders of Skyrim. They don't think they should be welcome there. The Imperials are basically just trying to keep the Stormcloaks at bay, and you get to choose who you fight for. This civil war is very prevalent throughout the game, and I think it could have been the main quest and gotten away with it. It's fun, interesting, and the decision of whether to choose the Imperials or the Stormcloaks is a very tough choice.

You level up in Skyrim just like you do in other RPG's--killing enemies--but you also have separate skills that level up individually. These include smithing, one-handed weapons, two-handed weapons, bow and arrows, sneaking, destruction magic, restoration magic, etc. etc. These skills level up over time as you use them. For example, you level up your sneak skill by sneaking a lot. These skills also have their own skill tree with different perks for you to get. You get to unlock one or two perks every time you level up your overall level. There are no classes, so this means you can concentrate on any combination of these. The perks are really fun, too, and the higher ones are amazing and make you want to get to them as soon as possible. For instance, the highest lightning spell perk in the destruction magic skill tree lets you burn your foes to ash with lightning spells. Lets you burn your foes to ash. Now that is amazing. As for the combat itself, it's simple enough. You can equip weapons, shields, or spells to either hand, and you use that weapon, shield, or spell by pressing the corresponding trigger.

But the main ability that Skyrim emphasizes is your dragon shouts. As a Dragonborn, you can absorb words of power, which are etched in old stone scattered across Skyrim. These words of power give you the ability to do various things, like breath fire or call down a thunder storm, but you need a dragon's soul to unlock them. You get these souls by killing a dragon and automatically absorbing their soul. These shouts are very fun to mess around with, my favorites being Fire Breath and Storm Call.

The world of Skyrim itself is gorgeous and huge. While the actual graphics aren't really anything special, when you're on the road just traveling, and you look around yourself, the world is beautiful. Skyrim is the northern-most country of Tamriel, so there's a lot of snow, and plenty of mountains. I'm not sure exactly how big Skyrim is, but it most definitely feels huge, and that's good enough in my book.

The guilds in Skyrim, groups that you can join and have their own quest line, are very interesting. There's the Companion's guild, the Thieves' guild, the Mage's College, and the Dark Brotherhood. The Companion's guild is your typical group of warriors, although the quest line is just as interesting as the rest. The Thieves' guild and Mage's College are self-explanatory. And the Dark Brotherhood is basically this league of assassins. The most fun out of these four is the Dark Brotherhood, which is surprising for me personally simply because I prefer being the good guy in games where I have the choice. In fact, it could probably have been the main quest and gotten away with it. Which brings up a good point about most of the side-quests, almost none of them would have trouble being the main story of their own game, they're that good.

Now, this is a Bethesda RPG, which means it's bound to have plenty of glitches. However, I don't think one bad thing happened to me personally the whole time I played for over 100 hours, other than freezing one, maybe two times. But don't get your hopes up, because apparently I was just lucky, as one of my friends had two quest lines get broken so that he couldn't continue them, it seems like people had more freezes than me, and I've heard of many other smaller glitches. And then there was the problem everyone had on Xbox 360 who installed the game, including me, when the game first came out: certain textures were muddy and hadn't loaded properly. It's been fixed long since, but it bothered me for a good two or three weeks after release.

These types of glitches should be expected with Bethesda, however, and they're vastly overshadowed by how amazing the rest of the game is. It's every RPG lover's dream: huge, beautiful, interesting world; tons of great quests, good combat, and fun leveling. The replay value is also great, as the number of stuff to do, races, and play styles means that you could be playing this game for hundreds of hours. All in all, this is one RPG that you shouldn't miss.