Investing around 30 hours to review a game with more than 200 hours of content doesn’t seem fair. At the same time I’m sure there are many of you out there wondering how the new Elder Scrolls game stacks up. So what we’ve done is tread the middle ground by offering a mini-review of sorts based on our marathon session of Skyrim and to put it rather simply, you need to buy this freaking game. Like now!

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim picks up nearly two hundred years after Oblivion. Since there is no King to rule Skyrim, civil unrest has broken out all over and if that wasn’t bad enough, a mysterious race of dudes have now started resurrecting Dragons for sinister reasons. Not an issue for you since you’re a Dragonborn, a badass capable of slaying dragons and absorbing their souls; it’s the politics you should be more worried about. I never really had a chance to sit and experience the game’s plot because I’ve done all of two plot based missions in my play through. Exploration is the name of the game here and Skyrim may give you a headache with its mind numbing scope.

Kratos, is that you?

Kratos, is that you?

You embark upon your adventures by choosing one of many races after which you can create your character from scratch. I chose someone adept at melee combat and magic and thanks to the game’s dual wielding system I was wielding spells and a sword with great ease. The customisation tool is crazy detailed and if you’re the creative type, you can create anyone (or anything). Unfortunately once you do create your character, you’ll be stuck with him/her for the rest of the game. As someone who’s crazy about customisation, this is a bit of a bummer for me. I mean sure, don’t let me modify features and body type but are you trying to tell me no one in Skyrim gets a shave or a haircut?

Anyway, once you’re done playing Barbie, you’ll undergo a short tutorial of sorts after which the world is yours to explore. You could chose to progress the story forward or indulge in a plethora of side quests, join one of the many guilds out there, take up odd jobs to earn money or start exploring dungeons to gain XP and come across new loot. While the game is open ended from the get go, there are certain areas you won’t be able to access simply because they will be host to higher level enemies.

Slaying dragons makes you feel completely badass

Slaying dragons makes you feel completely badass

Levelling up your character will grant you Perks that can be used to buff up your skill tree. Let’s say like me you prefer dual wielding spells and swords, your best bet would be to max out your One handed and Destruction spell tree. If stealth is more of your thing, go crazy unlocking perks for Sneaking but if you’re more of a mage then invest points in Conjuration or Alchemy. Like I said earlier, this game can really overwhelm you at times with its content but still none of it is really shoved down your throat and I applaud Bethesda for that. If you’re adept at Lockpicking, it will make your life simpler but you’ll never find yourself stuck in a dungeon just because you never levelled up your lockpicking skills.

In fact if you’re a melee based character who isn’t too good with magic, the game allows you to recruit a companion that is and together you can be a force to reckon with. The only downside to this is that path finding for companions is completely broken and you’ll constantly have to walk beside them making sure they’re following you and not getting stuck behind some rock. While I appreciate the support of a mercenary or a mage, I do prefer exploring Skyrim by myself since this game can offer you some truly memorable random moments. Allow me to elaborate.

I was in this marshy area doing a quest for the Thieves guild, sneaking around, using my bow and arrow to dispose enemies off quietly when suddenly out of nowhere, this dragon just appears in the sky raining down fire on all my enemies. Now I knew there were dragons in the game but I didn’t know they could appear anywhere at any time.

Once the initial awe and shock wore off, I realise I’m in the middle of a marsh with a bow and arrow facing off against a fire breathing behemoth. Not a good place to be. Before I can make a dash for safety, I see the very same mercenaries that were guarding the place I was to loot attacking the dragon distracting it momentarily from my sorry butt. The dragon decides to clean up shop before he makes a meal out of me, taking off and landing right between the mercs. He burns a few of them, chews a few more up after which he turns his sights on me. By that time all the mercs are pretty dead and the dragon itself has taken quite a bit of damage. I switch to my fire ball spell, spamming him with a few dozen fire balls before I deal the killing blow with my sword. Victorious I stand near him absorbing his soul feeling like such a badass, thanking him silently for wiping out all the enemies making my quest a lot easier. And this is just one of the many random badass moments I’ve experienced in this game.

Come at me bro

Come at me bro

But as much as I love this game so far, it does have a few issues. Combat even though greatly improved from Oblivion still feels kind of stiff and rigid. Most battles, especially for melee centric players will revolve around spamming the attack key, occasionally pausing to block. Also why is there no hotkey functionally for the PC version? Why do I have to favourite a weapon and then equip it instead of just assigning it to my number keys? Letting me switch on the fly instead of pausing the game to change my weapon or spell would have definitely made for a more intense experience.

Like its predecessor, Skyrim looks like a painting in motion. It may not be the most detailed painting out there but at times the game looks so peaceful and gorgeous, you can’t help but just sit back and take in the view. Of course don’t get too comfortable because underneath all that beauty lies a hostile world with bandits, wild animals and more just aching to take you down. Special mention also goes out to the game’s relaxing orchestral score that kicks into high gear as soon as you’re engaged in combat. Making the encounter with the dragon I spoke about earlier even more memorable was the awe inspiring score that kicked in at the right time.

Stay in Skyrim forever

Stay in Skyrim forever

After spending nearly 30 hours in Skyrim, I still haven’t even scratched the game’s surface. I have yet to become a member of all the guilds, hunt even more dragons, craft a badass dragon armour, plunder the most dangerous dungeons and explore more of the game’s mind numbing vistas. Every time I start the game, I make it a point to complete all the quests I’ve undertaken but somehow one thing leads to another and I just end up taking more. It’s been a while since a game has grabbed my attention like this making me ignore important aspects of my daily routine like eating or showering. If that’s not proof of this game’s immersion, I don’t know what is. Buy it at any cost.

PS: If you have a powerful PC, I’d definitely recommend the PC version. Besides looking the best of the lot, the PC version will be enhanced by a bunch of cosmetic and well as gameplay mods that will increase its life significantly.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is now available locally for the Xbox360 and the PS3 for Rs. 3499. Your best bet for the PC version would be Steam.

Test Rig:

Motherboard: Intel DP67BG Extreme Desktop series
Processor: Intel Core i7 – 2600K @3.40 GHZ
Graphic Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590
Ram: Corsair Vengeance 4GB DD3 @ 1600 MHZ X2
Power Supply: Cooler Master Silent Pro Gold 1200W

Publish date: November 17, 2011 9:32 am| Modified date: December 18, 2013 8:58 pm

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