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Skyrim review (PC)

November 12, 2011

“Dwarf-made armor, and elven shield
Finest gear to the battle I wield
Mithril helm an laen shade
Breath of dragon won’t burn my face”

All images (apart from this one) are taken from my own PC at 1600x1200. Click them to view the full size image

10 word description: Open world fantasy RPG. 5th Elder Scrolls game. Fight Dragons.

The characters are not quite as ugly as in Oblivion. I tried to create a woman who looks like Angelina Jolie and this is as close as I got

10 word review: Stunning game that mostly lives up to the pre-release hype.

Even if there isn't a quest to climb up there and jump off the top, I'll be doing it ... one day

You will like this if you enjoy: Open world fantasy RPGs (well, obviously). Previous games in the Elder Scrolls series. Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas.

The good news: Big, richly detailed open world. Loads to do and it’s all fun. Great atmosphere. An explorer’s paradise. Pretty much everything that was annoying about Oblivion has been improved or removed. Tons of loot. Infinitely variable skill-tree choices due to new perk system and removable of major/minor skill selections. Weapons and spell effects all look very good.

The night sky is some kind of visual masterpiece. Just don't walk off a cliff while gazing up at it

The bad news: The interface hasn’t been fully optimised for the PC. Assigning hot-keys (numbers) is in there, although well-hidden, but it is a bit broken at the moment (some items randomly lose key assignment). Melee combat is a bit messy, often confusing and hits don’t feel solid enough. It’s even more noticeable as archery has been greatly improved (over Oblivion) and is a lot more fun.

Plenty of blood flying around, pity it seems to be mostly mine

Arcadelife verdict: I’m having a great time in Skyrim. The intro (tutorial) sequence is a lot more interesting than Oblivion’s fairly slow plod out of the Imperial dungeons and once you emerge into the “do anything / go anywhere” outside world the hours in the real world seem to just fly by. There are a few things about the interface that I dislike, and melee combat is not as kinetic and visceral as it could be, but there’s so much about the game that is incredibly impressive and entertaining that it’s not hard to look past the minor gripes and just have a really good time.

The weapon models are very nice, even the low level junk stuff

Here’s a No-Spoilers example of an early “go fetch item X from a dungeon” sub-quest that I picked up by wandering into a random shop and following a specific conversation arc with a shopkeeper… Thinking that it would be something quick to do while I familiarised myself with the game, I happily wandered off into the nearby mountains. A couple of hours later I returned with the item; I’d levelled up 3 times, traversed a rather huge underground cave system with integrated crypts and weird temple, killed a heck of a lot of varied enemies, overcome a couple of locked door puzzles that would have made Lara Croft proud and despatched a mid-quest mini-boss that was probably the most genuinely disturbing example of a very overused fantasy RPG enemy type that I’ve ever seen. The surprise goal of the quest (which wasn’t the item being returned) was rather intriguing and in the same room as something that I failed to kill (a couple of times) and had to rather un-heroically run away from.

The satellite-view style map is very pretty

Overall, if you don’t have any fundamental problems running Skyrim (hey, it’s a PC game!) and you like sandbox fantasy RPGs, well, I expect you’re already playing it.

Arcadelife rating: 92/100

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is whatever it’s been updated to since release day…
Bethesda / Skyrim website link
Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Quad CPU Q6600 @ 2.40GHz
Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 (Msi Cyclone IGD5)
4gb RAM
Windows 7 64 bit
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