9.0

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim review
Welcome to Skyrim, home of the Nords

The good:

Same old Elder Scrolls
Many hours to be spent on it
A hell of a lot of side quests and unmarked quests
A more refined experience
Improved engine

The bad:

Typical Bethesda game, with bugs
Same engine as the previous game

Summary:

Welcome to Skyrim, home of the Nords. You step now from the green green grass of Cyrodiil to the dark gray world of Skyrim. You are the Dragonborn, capable of absorbing the soul/life essence of any Dragon you slay. This of course means Dragons are welcomed to the Elder Scrolls series. Fearsome and often deadly, they are your typical fire breathing(Or ice breathing), flying reptiles. The return of the dragons to Skyrim is also the main focal point of the story as well. Although there's an equally long side quest that could easily have taken priority over it int he form of a civil war between the Nords and the empire. These two quests will also cross paths as you travel to different realms and hunt down Elder Scrolls to stop the 'main' evil dragon, Alduin from resurrecting more of these fearsome creatures. Using the power within you as the Dragonborn and the ability to permanently kill a Dragon by devouring it's soul, it's up to you to save Skyrim and Tamriel.

The story, while good, is quite far down the pecking order in the list of things to do. You'll unlock plenty of new Shouts(Unique spells that have their own button to use them) and gain plenty of levels but doing the story only completes maybe 0.1% of this gigantic game. Like Oblivion, there's a hell of a lot of places to go and things to do, creatures to kill with much the same formula as well. Weapons can be crafted and enchanted at will, and spells can be cast. While the game lacks the Fighters Guild and Mages Guild, they're replaced adequately by the Companions and the College of Winterhold respectively. However while Oblivion had you doing quite basic quests in the guilds in order to work your way up the ranks, the Companions and College actually have you do tasks you feel are meaningful in order to increase your reputation with them. Doing the Companions questline requires you to be turned into a Werewolf, and the change isn't just stats either, you actually change into a werewolf, which is pretty badass. The Dark Brotherhood makes a welcome return as well, as does the Thieves Guild, although the former three guilds don't have anywhere near as much power as they did in Oblivion.

Aside from guilds and the main story, you still have plenty to do. Buy houses and furnish them, raided mines and mine for different ores and jewels, find random side quests dotted all over the map or just go hunting down giants and selling the loot. I found myself at time just going around, killing things for the fun and collecting junk, which is also vastly improved. In Oblivion you'd often have the same item twice, but it would put it down as two separate items, which could make inventory management annoying. Skyrim had fixed that problem but in turn made a new one. The UI is terrible, coming up at the left hand side of the screen with a very basic list layout, almost like windows explorer.

Typically being a Bethesda game, Skyrim has it's share of bugs, although you'd have to dig deep for most of them. All in all if you're a fan the Elder Scrolls or not, you ought to give Skyrim a good go. It's taken up over 500 hours of my life, and I don't regret it one bit.

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