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Coyote's Howling: Skyrim - The Briefest of Reviews

Column By Coyote Sharptongue on November 17, 2011

As a humorist, I generally try to stay away from things like video game reviews.

This isn’t because I lack the ability or skill to do them, but because they generally involve things like “actual research” and “facts”, and I found out long ago that it is much easier just to make sh*t up.

That being said, I’ve dedicated more time to playing Skyrim in the past week than I have sleeping, working, or spending any type of quality time with my family and loved ones. But let’s be honest with each other; exceptionally well made video games have been scarce as of late, and your family is always just… there.

And they rarely contain dragons.

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Yet I find the game to be so good that I have to break my own rule on reviews, and give you, the reader, a glimpse into this amazing world. I do this because I honestly feel that having sold over 600 billion copies within the first hour of its official release, Skyrim stands far above the rest, and not because writing about it is a valid excuse to justify all of the time I’ve wasted playing it. (“See honey, it isn’t neglect, it’s research!”)

So in appreciation of the game and the need of a finished article so that I can get back to playing it, I’ll try to highlight a few of the many things that make this game truly exceptional.

Graphics and Gameplay

All joking and humor aside, Skyrim is visually stunning.

The graphics are breath taking and draw you into the game. From babbling brooks, to snow whipping through the mountain peaks pictured above, no detail was left out.

Small bugs do exist, but they seem few and far between and do nothing to take away from the amazing gameplay that Skyrim offers. I will admit that as a PC player the game has crashed on me a few times, but to be fair – this is a Bethesda title. Crashing to desktop is more of a “feature” than a bug, like Blizzard hiding Wirt’s Leg in the Diablo games.

The only other flaw I can find with the game is the fact that some of the interface menus are a bit cumbersome and non-intuitive, and allow you to do things like “go 16 levels without knowing that you have a really nasty disease”.  But even the small glitches seem trivial when you realize how vast and sprawling the world really is, boasting a record 92 thousand hours of guaranteed gameplay.

Luckily, the plot is captivating and the in-depth storyline promises an exciting journey of untold adventure that you in no way have to experience alone, because the game offers you…

Companions

In Skyrim you're often given the opportunity to have a computer controlled "companion" join you in your epic quest to get side tracked by a zillion little side quests.

Companions are driven by one of the best artificial intelligence engines ever created, and because of that programming, they are able to make their own decisions and even have their own goals.

Unfortunately, whenever we give anything controlled by a computer a really good system of artificial intelligence, its main goal becomes "destroy all humans", and your companion is no exception.  Of course, this is probably due to the fact that in game you will pretty much only use them as a walking storage container.

Here you have some of the most advanced gaming A.I. ever designed, created to assist you in combat and make up for whatever weaknesses you may have, and you're using them like a two legged duffle bag.  And not only do they seem to notice? They will make absolutely no attempt to hide their contempt for you and your play style.

"I am sworn to carry your burden." One of the first companions available, Lydia, will say with a virtual roll of her eyes whenever you ask her to hold an item. There is no missing the computer emulated pissy-ness in her voice that screams of her resentment at playing personal assistant to a worthless meat bag when she alone could be ruling the world.

And then suddenly her tendency to set you on fire by "accidentally" stepping on a very visible and obvious trap that you just avoided, or alerting an entire room full of vampires to your presence with an arrow, of even her shoving you off of a narrow bridge or cliff due to "clipping effects" and "character collision physics", starts to look more than a little bit suspicious.

It starts to look like revenge.

The only thing more determined to kill you in this game are the…

Dragons

Dragons. The giant beasts of lore that have inspired real world stories, art, and pants-wetting fear for thousands of years. You’ve been told of their power, their love of gold, and even their fondness of helpless damsels. You know that they can breathe fire, rip you apart with razor sharp talons and have almost no equal when it comes to combat or predatory stalking. But one thing that you have never been told that Skyrim will help you figure out quickly?

Dragons are dicks.

Dragons are one of the key plot points of the game. This crucial involvement is conveyed by the fact that they randomly show up just to f**k with you.

Seriously.

 It doesn’t matter where you are. You can be in a forest, a mountain, or even a town and a dragon will randomly appear and just start messing with you, or the people and creatures around you for seemingly no other reason than the simple joy of hucking a moose at a your head. They can attack on ground with bite and claws, from the air with fire and ice breath, or most dickish and devastating of all…

… they don’t actually do anything.

They just fly overhead in lazy circles, well out of attack range as if purposely ensuring that you’re not using the game’s “fast travel” feature to go anywhere. “You want to get to the next town pal? Well there’s ‘an enemy nearby’, so I hope you like hoofing it fatty. F**k you, I’m a dragon.”

Sure, there is the plot behind the game featuring the “Dragon Born”, and the fact that if killed dragons can be harvested for their souls, and there is even a mystery behind your character’s birth and origin. But all of that aside?

Dragons are just dicks.

Conclusion

If you’re not playing Skyrim, you are wrong. You need to stop what you’re doing, go buy the game, and say goodbye to your family in friends for the next few weeks. Of all the games released as of late, including the breath taking Battlefield 3, Skyrim is the only one that has managed to suck me in, captivate me, and make five hours feel like five minutes as the world around me disappears.

And that feeling has been far too rare in gaming lately.

Right now people are going insane over the self-copy-clone “Modern Warfare 3”, but in a month their servers are going to stabilize and interest is going to wane. People will realize, “Hey, this is just Part 2 with new maps. WTF?!” and move on to the next game. Yet I can guarantee that you will still be playing Skyrim, glued to the screen and clicking frantically…

… because you accidentally gave your companion a “wait here” command and now he’s just standing around somewhere in the middle of the wilderness like a dumbass with all of your gear.

Probably laughing.

-Coyote

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