When I’m not drooling over technology, I’m usually playing video games. I’ve been a gamer for as long as I can remember. In fact, my mother always tells this story about how the only way to get me to stop crying as an infant was to sit me on her lap and play the original Mario Bros. on the NES. She said I’d shut right up and watch her play for hours. My mom has since left the video game world, but I’ve stayed put. I play a wide genre of games, but as of late, I’ve been getting tired of the increasingly stereotypical shooter genre (particularly with the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3). I’ve always preferred the Halo series, anyway. Moving away from a genre that’s main focus is multiplayer wasn’t a big deal to me for one reason: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was released.
In case you don’t want to hear me babble on and on about Skyrim, I’ll just say this: I haven’t had this much fun playing a video game ever. For those who want some justification for the loaded statement I just said, I applaud you for demanding reason out of people. I’ll try to do that.
In case you don’t know what Skyrim is, it’s a Western-RPG set on the pseudo-continent of Tamriel. The game itself is set in the providence of Skyrim, home of the Nords. If the breadth of this game sounds astonishing, you’re right. The map is enormous, providing (literally) hundreds of unique locations to explore, many with unique quests. This is perhaps Skyrim’s strongest aspect. I’ve created two separate characters (which I’ll go into later) and still haven’t completed 75% of the quests available. Keep in mind that I’ve put in almost 80 hours of play time. I don’t know that I’ve even explored the whole map. As I look at it in game, I can’t help but assume the blank spots are home to more mystery waiting to be discovered. Moreover, the detail of each environment is breathtaking, and makes you understand why it took five years to create. I’ve never seen an aesthetically more pleasing environment than I’ve seen in Skyrim.
What’s more, the quests in Skyrim feel far more unique than its predecessors. Sure, there are the numerous “go fetch this for me and I’ll give you a prize” quests, but the feel of them is unique. Each character feels important, not some cookie-cutter individual you found the previous hour while doing a similar quest. This is certainly a triumphant thing to do for a video game.
Another great aspect of Skyrim is the numerous factions, legions, cults, and groups you can interact with. As soon as you complete the main quest (I won’t spoil too many details, yet), you’ll find that the dragons are still around. Does this make entire sense, given the main quest plot? Not really, but would the game be any fun if you couldn’t keep destroying dragons after the main quest? No. Overall, this is a great trade off that keeps the game fresh.
Perhaps my favorite part of Skyrim, however, is the depth and variance each character you create gives you. At first, I created a Nord, as it only seemed right to make his home right in Skyrim. I was a melee character that focused on getting in close and chopping heads. It was very, very fun as I expected it to be. However, I’m currently on my second character: one that trumps the fun of my first one. This character is an Argonian assassin. Argonians are the reptile race in the game, and possess a couple of cool racial abilities, including the ability to breath underwater. I often times find myself sneaking up for a kill and then get detected. For a quick escape, I often dive in the deepest water I can find and wait it out for the enemy to leave me alone. Not only do I have to plan out each and every kill, I also need to make up for my lack of pure offense by leveling my alchemy skill to create deadly poisons. The result is an extremely flexible and immensely enjoyable experience. I often have to remind myself that I’ve only used two of the ten available races.
This isn’t a review of Skyrim. I don’t know that I’d be able to cover every single aspect of the behemoth game. The bottom line is this: Skyrim is the funnest game I’ve ever played on any console. With my favorite game of all time being The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the fact that I deem Skyrim as the funnest game I’ve played is surely saying something. If you have a chance, go pick it up for your console of choice. If you like RPG’s, I’m sure you’ll find that Skyrim certainly raises the bar for future games.