About Me

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Greetings. I am the Illusive One. For many years now I have been a huge video game player, movie viewer, and book reader. For almost as long, I have been a critic of these things and many people respect my opinions of these things and have often said I belong on G4 doing reviews on X-Play or a similar show. Sadly that is not likely to happen. So instead I shall do reviews for you, uninfluenced by other reviewers, of video games books, movies, and, occasionally, music and political actions. I hope you find this informative and helpful. Thank you for your time.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

            Very few gaming companies have done as much for open world gameplay as Bethesda: Game Studios. The worlds they introduce are vast, beautiful and offer an almost endless number of things to do. With that said, there was a lot of hype around their latest game, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Now, I have to admit I wasn't that hyped for the game. While some of my previous posts suggest otherwise, I really would not have cared if another Elder Scrolls game ever came out. To me, these games always seemed like the Avatar of games using that “give the audience a big pretty world to look at and they'll love you for it” style that I hate. But after playing through both Fallout games, it gave me hope that Bethesda could write as well make good worlds. But, as my initial reaction stated, they let me down in this regard. So now that I've put a bit more time into this game, I decided to do a full review of it. To praise the crap out of what deserves to be praised and pan the hell of what deserves to be panned. This is The Illusive One's Review of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

Main Story and Organization Plots

             As I'm sure you all know by now the main story of this game involves dragons. An ancient evil dragon has returned to Skyrim intent on resurrecting all the dragons slain in the past and destroying the world and only you, the Dragonborn can stop this evil.
            While very clichéd sounding, the concepts are actually good and they bring in ideas that no one else has thought of. It has all kinds of fascinating mythologies involving the dragons, ancient prophecies, the heroes of old, and time travel which were all really good ideas. The concept of the Dragonborn is easily one of the best concepts I have ever heard for any dragon related story, (but of course nothing can beat Dragon Heart lol).
            The various organizations in this game, such as the Thieves Guild, The Companions, and the Dark Brotherhood also share this strength and have very great concepts. The Thieves Guild, for example is actually portrayed as a criminal organization on the verge of collapse rather than the Robin Hood style of thieves they were in Oblivion and I think that it's a change for the better. The Companions also have interesting secrets, (but the less said on that the better), the Dark Brotherhood also has great ideas for their story, and the quest line involving the Civil War in Skyrim brought up issues that any civil war does and that is to be applauded.
            The biggest fault with the storylines in this game however, is the execution of them. I'll get into more specifics later but it mainly comes down to two things: The missions are incredibly dull and you don't really care about what's going on. That's the best way to put it. The individual missions are dull and repetitive and you don't really get much of a sense of intensity or rising stakes of it. For example, during the climax of the main story there was nothing really intimidating about the final boss, and the way you defeated him came off as being underwhelming even though there was a fantastic concept behind it.
            The other main problem with it is that you really don't care about what happens to this world or its people. With games like Fallout 3 or Dragon Age: Origins you actually cared about the people and territory and how your actions impacted them. This game doesn’t contain any of that. You really don't care how you affect the world and the developers don't give you any reason to. I think that has a lot to do with the way the missions progress and the way you interact with the characters but more on that later.
            All around the main storyline and guild stories had great concepts but poor execution and it just makes me sad that Bethesda couldn't pull off effective storylines in this game when they have done it before. All around, they were just ok. They were better than Oblivion's in concepts but that's really not saying a whole lot. If you’re like me and need a compelling story in you RPGs then this is not the game for you.

The Gameplay

             If there is anything that Bethesda is good at, it's delivering a memorable gameplay experience. And with this game, it is no different. For starters you had the many, MANY ways you could customize your characters, once again boasting a variety of races and different ways to make them look and you can literally make him/her anyway you want and into any class you want. You can make him/her a warrior, a mage, and archer, a barbarian and all kinds of other combinations that I can’t think of.
            The leveling system is also fantastic. For starters you can only increase three basic skills, magic, health and stamina which I think worked for the better rather than all the other stuff you could previous Elder Scrolls games. Based on constellations, you actually have to use these skills in order level them up, which I think is the best tweak that Bethesda made. It just added a layer of difficulty to it that previous games seemed to lack, (in Fallout 3 for example you could be a pro at explosives even though you've never used one, wtf?). It was also really cool to have all these different skills and perks that included mining, blacksmithing, enchanting, and all other kinds of cools stuff that allowed for all kind of possibilities. Combat gameplay was a vast improvement over the last game. It actually felt smooth and natural and all the cheap ways you could win in Oblivion are gone.
             Then we have the open world gameplay itself. The land of Skyrim itself is beautiful, and a major achievement in the graphics department for any video game of any genera. The snow actually looks like snow, the water actually looks like water and I could just stare at the northern lights the game displayed for hours in sheer wonder. The land also had a Viking theme going with authentic looking towns and cultural styles to go with it. It also had an incredible musical score that I have never gotten tired of listening to.
            As far as glitches go, they really didn't bother me. After going through the Nine Circles of Glitch Hell that was Fallout: New Vegas, this seemed like a walk in the park in comparison. There were a few broken quests that really pissed me off but other than that they weren't a problem for me.
            Then we have the sheer number of quests this game has and the almost random encounters you have with dragons and such but that actually brings me to my biggest criticisms of the gameplay. For starters, the missions are dull and repetitive. There is next to nothing compelling about them and I found myself bored out of my mind doing them. I kept finding that the dungeons/crypts/temples had nearly identical layouts and identical puzzles. Usually you would end up fighting mages, bandits, or some obscure cult with some kind of tough zombie boss at the end. And afterwards you would never hear about anything from this area again. And again, they don't give you any reason to care about these quests. Why should I risk my life to get my shield for this guy? He's not that interesting. Why should I risk my neck for this world? There really isn't anything that interesting in it, other than your character and the sheer look of it. It's hard to pinpoint exactly what it is but there is just a certain underwhelming and dull nature to all the quests in this game.
            Then we have the dragons in this game. While they are cool and challenging at first, the fights with them get really dull really fast. By the time you're killing your twentieth dragon they'll seem more like an annoyance or an inconvenience then actual challenge. Not to mention there isn't much of a variety to them. I think there may have been three looks between all of them and three abilities and I found this disappointing.
            All around, the only criticism I have with the gameplay is the sheer repetitiveness and dullness of the missions. And that is a major flaw no matter what way you slice it. But everything else in this department is fantastic. The look of the world is great, the combat is great, the leveling system is great and the sheer size of the world is fantastic. If they could have made their missions a bit more interesting I would have had no problems with the gameplay. But as it stands, there are a lot of great things to be had in this department but there are some really big faults that take it down a peg.   

The Characters

            There is no other way to put this! These characters are awful! They're bland, dull, one dimensional, and completely forgettable! I mean, how in the hell did Bethesda screw up so badly with this cast of characters? I mean Jesus!
            So what exactly makes them so bad? Well, exactly what was mentioned above. They're bland, dull, one dimensional, and completely forgettable. There is no other way to put it. Granted there are a few times they seem otherwise but for the most part there is nothing compelling about them. You don't like or hate any of them throughout the entire game. They're just kind of there. Their soul purpose in this game is either to kill you, sell you things, give you quests, or fill up the world. That is it! And again, Bethesda has not learned that great actors voicing the characters is no substitute for good writing and compelling development. They're easily the worst cast of characters I have ever seen for such a high profile game. That's all I have to say! Let’s move on to the verdict! I don’t want to dwell on these crappy characters!

The Verdict

              All around, there were some major, MAJOR, faults I found with this game that really diluted the experience for me. The horribly dull characters, dull missions and repetitive gameplay is what ultimately takes this game down a notch and keeps it from being perfect. But that aside, it's really, really good. The sheer number of missions available is impressive, the look of the world is fantastic, the music is great, the atmosphere is great, the leveling system and combat are great, and the amount of things you can do is incredible. I just wish that they had been able to make me care a bit more about all the stuff that was going on in Skyrim. Had they done that it would have been a perfect game. That does not however, stop it from being a great game and one of the best of the year had to offer and is worth every penny that you'll pay for it.

All Around


  1. I bet it killed you to admit it is a great game ;-)

  2. dude i never said skyrim was a bad game, i just said that it disspointed me and I addressed all the things that annoyed me about this game in this review. so no it didnt kill me. i did like this game i just feel that people blew it out of perportions