So, just to get this out-of-the-way, this is not a review. Trolls will be aggressively purged with napalm for neglecting that line. I’ve played about 9 hours into Skyrim and have absolutely no desire to continue playing. If you’d like to know why, and what I think Skyrim does well (yes, there is praise), then read on. If you want a pat on the back for buying Skyrim, you’ll have to look else where. Now, ready to get into it? Cool, so for starters, lets see what Skyrim does well. There are a couple of things I really enjoy and wish more devs do, but being nice isn’t as fun as being caustic, so let’s get that out-of-the-way.

First off, the world in Skyrim is incredible. This is what Open World design should be. The world feels vibrant and has multiple biomes with actual transitions. None of this stupid crap where you walk over a designated line and suddenly the entire world changes appearance, down to the point you can follow the texture changes on the ground. If you’ve ever played or seen someone play Burning Crusade, you know how stupid this can look and how jarring it can be. Skyrim’s world looks like a complete world without any obvious breaks, and has plenty of rivers, mountains, swamps, and forests to break up the landscape and make a living, breathing world. Graveyards and cavern/dungeon areas further add to the exploration aspects and give the player a desire to stay off the beaten path and explore for various rewards and loot. For Skyrim’s world design, I’ve got nothing but praise.

Seriously, this world is gorgeous.

Another trait I love in the enchanting system of this game. You can either buy enchanting rituals from mages at a high price, or simply destroy a piece of equipment you already own, and learn that enchantment forever. After you learn it by tutor or breaking down, you can enchant any other weapon you own, adjust the power of the enchant (which determines how many times it can proc before needing a recharge), and most importantly, you can rename your weapons. Nothing is more satisfying to me than creating my own personal instruments of death and renaming them to be more fitting. I will complain that the amount of enchants is lacking an uninspired, which three elements all of which equate to “just adds extra damage.” Yes, I know about the Stamina and Magicka drain, no they aren’t worth much if anything. Hardly noticed at all and both are utterly worthless on the wildlife in Skyrim. After chatting with a friend, I’ve learned there are about 4 types; Soul trap, Lunar, Fear, and Elemental Damage. Lunar increases damage at night, and come on, that’s the kind of stuff we need to see more of. Things that have qualifiers, things that do special debuffs, just something with a little more variety. The other professions are all decent, but certain things are out of wack. For instance, you will need one-hundred smithing to make dragonbone armor. That’s max level, and unless you spend all day leveling that, you’re going to be rolling in dragon bones before that, which are completely worthless outside vendor-fodder. I mean really, no smith ever thought to tinker and try to make something out of the 50 pounds of dragon remnants their hauling around? Not to mention there are no dragon bone weapons, which is a real shame.

Not to mention the desk looks nice.

So… yeah, that’s about all I have nice to say. On to my caustic hate.

Combat in Skyrim is excruciatingly boring, and devolves into “click rapidly or hold down button to win” and little else. The most variety you’ll get is adding a bow to the mix, but unless you have great aim or extremely high bow skill, whatever you shoot at will run up and begin pummeling your face in. Magical combat had potential, but usually just dissolves into equipping your favorite destruction spell in both hands and then holding down the trigger/mouse button until whatever is in front of you dies a horrible death. Melee is just a clickfest with no variety or combo system at all. Using a shield makes the clicking slightly more interesting, but mobs telegraph their attacks from so far off you have to be trying to die to ever be hit by it. Combat feels the same nine hours in as it did nine hours ago, and that is really, really sad.

Pacing is all over the place, and is especially horrid on the main quest line. Once you start the game, if you want the game to maintain any kind of integrity, ignore the main quest once you get to the first town and run off to enjoy it. I’ve always hated when you get a mission like in Skyrim where everyone on the main quest is screaming at you to “hurry up or the world will die!” non-stop, so you get stuck into the main quest and ignore the side quests. Or you can quit in the main story and go do some side stuff only to realize that nothing happens, that proves the entire quest is just blowing hot air. After you see that the world just goes into stasis once you step off the rails it looses all of its importance and immersion of the player. It just deflated the whole thing. And once that happens, I hit Oblivion Syndrome where I just ignore the main quest forever and just do whatever I want, because without me the world will never change.

These guys show up. Then wait for you to kill them. Yay?

Speaking of, Bethesda did a really freaking bad job at the spreading of information. Inside the first town people where gabbing off about dragons and how it means the end times, despite the fact hat speaking with the main quest npc 30 seconds later it’s established no one has come in to the town, and no one has found out about dragons yet. This isn’t even getting started with the utterly retarded system where you murder a chicken and an entire town goes hostile, or even worse, killing a man in a dark house with no witnesses and then walking outside to find not only is there a bounty on my head, but everyone in town knows about the murder. It’s so infuriating I just gave up and deleted my first character, which was a sneaky assassin. It was so infuriating I couldn’t put up with it anymore, and besides, I’m pretty sure a chicken hired a hitman on me after a while.

As a final minor complaint, it’s also really freaking annoying that everyone in Skyrim will always be up in your face the moment you walk anywhere near. Unless they are part of a scripted event, everyone will stop mid conversion and wheel around to quip towards you, either commenting on what you’ve done or what’s going on. It utterly destroys any fantasy sense and makes the entire world feel hollow and dead. No one has any life ouside propping up the player, and no one has any reason to be there. If this was Bioshock, you could replace every NPC with an audio log and it’d probably be less annoying since no one will stop mid-sentence to bug you, and you’d miss absolutely nothing.

"So yeah, bob, as I was- DOVAKIIN, LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT MY CATS."

So yeah, that’s my experience in Skyrim. Overall a mediocre game dragged down by sub-par execution and horrible pacing. I’ll probably pick the game back up after the modding community has had some time to really dig in and edit what’s there, but for right now the cons far outweigh the pros. The game-play is boring and static, the people are hollow, and the pacing is schizophrenic. The world is equisite and the crafting systems are actually really fun though. If you’re just looking for a game to waste hours exploring the world and making tons of crap, Skyrim gets a major recommendation for that. If you’re looking for a good role-playing game, well, I’d pass on this. You can role-play, but it’s really hard to get in character when the game doesn’t even care who or what you are, only that you’ve done X quest and are ready for the next one.

And that’s all for this game, no more beating this horse with a stick, I promise. There are other games for me to verbally mutilate, and we’ll be getting there very soon. As a final side note, the next part of the Dark Souls LP should be up tomorrow or Saturday, along with some special Covenant footage. Apologies for the delay, but I think the flippin’ ninjas will be worth the wait. Until then!