Skyrim – Rock and Scroll

skyrim

Bethesda’s latest instalment in the Elder Scrolls saga has arrived, and Skyrim sets this new story around 200 years after the events of predecessor Oblivion. You play one of the Dragonborn; a rare occurrence of a human with the soul of a dragon, that only appears whenever the world is in danger.

So begins your adventure of dragon-slaying, dungeon-crawling, bandit-beating fun that will take you across a map of epic proportions. From the frozen peaks of the mountains, to the luscious greenery that adorns the forests, every corner of the world that is Skyrim feels unique, boasting breathtaking detail and a mind-bending array of intricate touches.
The hundreds, if not thousands, of dungeons, ruins and tombs that fill the world of Skyrim create a grand and immersive setting. Once you’ve completed one dungeon, there always seems to be another to conquer, and each has its own original aesthetic. The gameplay also involves a new, convenient mechanism which means that you will always be sent to places you haven’t already visited, so you will always be encountering new locations and dungeons.

Clearly, dungeons are only one aspect of this truly open-world experience. Within this world you are able to create your own weapons and armour, and adorn your bodily defence with special enchantments to improve your abilities. You can mix potions to strengthen you and your skills or weaken your enemies, as well as hunt animals for the skins and meat to create food with healing properties and even join a number of guilds to perform special tasks. The game’s progression, and that of your character, appears infinite.

The levelling system has been streamlined from previous instalments, in that your character has a number of skills which can be improved; anything from heavy and light armour, to blacksmithing and enchanting. Every improvement of a skill now counts towards your level, as opposed to only the ones you choose at the beginning of the previous games. This means that you can start the game wielding a classic sword and shield, then halfway through change to being more of a mage with a spell in each hand, you could even choose to change again, becoming an archer, or even an assassin. All the time, you are improving the skills with each use, and levelling up the character and becoming increasingly powerful.

Then of course, you have the dragons; the huge and powerful enemies of the game, almost boss-like in structure, with a glossy, yet totally imposing and frightening, design. A fight with a dragon is something you must be prepared for, as it won’t be over quickly. But when the fight does finish, you are rewarded with an astounding sequence where the dragon’s flesh almost burns away from its bones, and converts into a mist which is absorbed into your character, bestowing you with the great beast’s soul. This can then be used to unlock ‘shouts’, which are found throughout the Skyrim game world. Each ‘shout’ is a word in Dragon Tongue; however, being in such an ancient and powerful language, these words convert into actual realisations of the literal meaning of the words. This means your voice can become a blast of fire or ice, or can call upon nearby animals to fight by your side and so on. Each shout has a maximum of three words, the third being its most potent form.

All in all, as Bethesda has proudly stated, this game can be played for an infinite amount of time. I cannot see myself playing it for the rest of my life, but I certainly wouldn’t complain if I had no other choice. The sheer amount of content, and the simple approach to something that would otherwise be complicated and overwhelming, is sure to enable Skyrim to win over anyone, RPG fan or not, and this means that it is a vital and welcome addition to the saga.

Utterly impressive; so for the makers of the Elder Scrolls series, it looks like the Skyrim’s the limit! Unless they can better it…

DVD Rental Rating 10/10

Written by Martin Whatmough

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