The lights are on
Considering the fact that this particular review is about a downloadable content pack for one certain game, and not an actual game or complete game, this will most likely be considerably short- despite the fact that you could spend numerous hours completing the Dawnguard DLC if you really wanted to. Probably around four or so on average, to be precise... There's plenty of meat and potatoes in it to fill even the heartiest Nord up, so dig in, shut your mouth, and prepare for a tale of ancient evils, new menaces, and vampires versus men...
Although its already been firmly established for the most part, Dawnguard is pretty much a pack solely created to give players who've already exhausted every other venue of Skyrim's features another chance to play the game, and some new missions and quests to go along with new weapons, armor, forms, etc. Is it really any wonder then why so many people decided to pick up either a copy of Skyrim because they hadn't and wanted to see what the hype was all about, or Dawnguard for various reasons pertaining solely to Skyrim? No, it's really not- as even for a DLC, which doesn't require as fine a polish as the game it was created for, Dawnguard still shows its cards only when it is absolutely necessary- and keeps players enthralled unto the very end, and even past the threshold of death's cloak and resurrection...
Similar to many RPG games, many of Bethesda's own games, and a few plotlines within Skyrim itself- Dawnguard focuses mainly on two warring racing for the duration of the quest and its main subcategories. On one side of the battlefield, you have the olden Dawnguard- or the vampire slayers of their time. On the other, you have the undead who's soulless entities unscupulously feed upon the warriors and weak of the land without any prejudice. Blood is blood, at least that much both sides can agree upon- for different matters. While the Dawnguard are trying to prevent the coming scourge, the vampires however, wish for eternal night- so as to feed whenever they wish, ina world where there is absolutely no escape from your doom.
From each side, you will learn new skills and gain access to both weaponry and talents, such as crossbows, summoning trolls to your side in your defense and to repel intruders, the powers of a vampire lord, or new and different transformations- whether you be a werewolf or a vampire, or some sort of sick hybrid somehow. Multiple plotlines, a few sidequests, and more details bound together only serve to magnify and multiply the outcomes and collateral that come along with your greater responsibilities, or lack thereof. If you are expecting completely different locales however, you'll be a tad bit disappointed- as most of the gothic areas look about the same later on, and each more macabre than the last.
While the perks and the associated skill trees that come with them are marvelous and innovative yet, and choosing whether to magnify your werewolf side or vampire side if you are one or the other- truthfully, even with all of the abilities provided to you at these levels, it is still a bit disappointing at times. This is mainly because of the same annoying camera angle for transforming makes an appearance here, which is even more annoying now due to the fact that your form changes often to monstrous sizes- making for an even worse time in a fight with tiny enemies in front of you. Third person playing has never been Bethesda's strong suit in their games such as Skyrim, and it sorely shows here once more. It's a shame they always want to try to stick it back in however, even though it's far from game-breaking- it's still quite a petty annoyance to have to deal with. The mechanics for transformation during battle kind of throw things off as well, as enemies slice away at you as you take seconds to fully transform- and you are unable to do anything but cringe away from them as they do so, until you can easily wreak havoc upon them when you are done. Locomotion gets a bit tedious in these forms as well, as you must constantly switch back and forth in order to proceed into various locations for optimized effects.
Aside from such minor issues however, the addition of new enemies- not simply limited to the vampiric type, new weapons, and new areas of all shapes and size make for a wonderful and mostly enjoyable time. Sure, on a full run-through, you could only eeke out about twelve hours worth of gameplay- but think of the numerous and striking choices facing you, the multiple quest endings, and more that could've played out differently. With this one DLC, Bethesda has all but ensured that you will play for at least another thirty hours or so if you enjoyed Dawnguard- mainly because you'll want to see things from all of the offered perspectives, if nothing else... This is simply another grand quest to add to the smelting pot, and not a terrible one at that.
Concept: Choose to aid or destroy an ancient evil and a vampiric threat to the humanity of Skyrim in this eerie and haunting questline. Spend your time chatting, morphing into gigantic werewolf and vampire lord forms, or skulk about in new castles- it's all up to you.
Graphics: The graphics haven't gotten any better or worse. They are the same gorgeous graphics that released alongside Skyrim back in November of last year.
Sound: The character's voicework is as impressive as ever, as is the haunting new melodies t garnish the halls and hills of these new areas of Skyrim.
Playability: Despite some troublesome and problematic issues with both types of transformative forms, and the camera angles associated with them and their locomotion techniques- the rest of the quest handles as well as any other aspects of Skyrim, with a few little tweaks here and there.
Entertainment: The quests are as entertaining as ever, more of a broader backstory develops and manages to pull you in for another dozen hours of fun in this eventful download.
Replay Value: Moderate
Overall Score: 8.25