Skyrim Impressions – Our Needless Contribution to the Pool of Reviews

by Josh
Special Pot

Cooking Pot of +10 Store Clerk Blindness

Derek and I finally got our hands on Skyrim, and it hasn’t let us down yet. We both know there are over 60 reviews for this game, and we know that this game has received high marks. So we won’t bore you too much with a detailed and professional review. We decided to give you our first impressions of the game, tell you if this game is worth what minimal gaming time you have, and compare this to a few other modern RPGs we like. Follow us after the break below for our Skyrim impressions!

JOSH:

I’m not a Western RPG fanboy, a JRPG fanboy, nor an Elder Scrolls fanboy. I never completed Baldur’s Gate 2, haven’t finished all the Ultima games, and don’t own every port of Final Fantasy IV. I don’t hate RPGs though, I play a lot of them.  In fact, I have sunk over 100 hours into both Oblivion and Fallout 3. Final Fantasy VI is my all time favorite game in that series and perhaps my favorite RPG…no, video game of all time (which I have completed maybe 5 times to date). So ya, I do like RPGs.

Ultima IV

I don't think I have the patience to go back to the Ultima series...it looks like doodoo.

I have been pretty pumped about Skyrim. After reading too many reviews, watched any preview footage I could get my hands on prior to the game’s release, and revisited Oblivion…I have had high hopes and expectations of Skyrim. Skyrim is suppose to be the RPG that sets new standards for Western RPGs. It will be the RPG that draws in non RPG gamers. It will be the best looking RPG we have seen come out of Bethesda Studios. After spending 6 hours with this game, I think it deserves the high marks it received and I do agree that this game sets the bar high.

Its safe to say this game has a lot in common with the game mechanics of Oblivion. Fighting feels mostly the same but is way more fun now that you can map a weapon, spell or shield to each hand. Character and skill development are practically the same although there are less stats and skills to worry about. Everything seems more streamlined and refined though. I noticed some complaints about the battle controls, but trust me, it has been vastly improved over the clunky controls of Oblivion or the real time battles of Fallout 3. I do think the simplification of some of the game mechanics will not be welcomed by the hardcore RPG gamer. For those who loved Daggerfall or Morrowind, you may miss some of the details and intricacies those two games had to offer. For those who loved Morrowind but enjoyed the evolution the Elder Scrolls series took when Oblivion came out…you are going to love Skyrim. I fall into the latter category.

Daggerfall

From what I remember, Daggerfall had one of the largest Elder Scrolls gaming world and was pretty complex RPG...despite looking dated.

The game still manages to allow me to create a character I want to create. You don’t pick a starting class, but rather you pick a starting race (all the races seen in previous Elder Scrolls game make a return here). The starting race you pick provides you with some perks and acts as your ‘class’, so to speak. Plan on molding your character into a magic wielding psychopath…start as a High Elf. Want to bust some skulls as a dual wielding berserker…start as an Orc. You get the point. I went with the High Elf since I usually end up playing as some sort of spell sword, fighter, or thief in every other RPG because I suck ass at playing as a mage. Even in table top RPGs (what few I’ve played with Derek and Mike), my mages die fast.

In Skyrim, your character is a blank slate. I’m not really a fighter, mage or anything yet. So how do I become a mage? You need to use magic! So far this has been one of my favorite aspects of the game. Just do what you want, play the way you want to, and your skills will improve accordingly. No longer do you have to pick “primary” skills for a predetermined class and constantly force yourself to focus on improving those skills only. It really has given me a sense of freedom I really wanted from Oblivion. That’s not to say I couldn’t make any character I wanted to in Oblivon. It’s just that Skyrim does a better job of not bothering you with micromanaging stats allowing you to focus on gameplay. Since I want my character to catch everything on fire, I’ve used nothing but destructive magic spells. Use of these spells alone enhances my skill at wielding such magic. Now I have molded my character as a mage and all the local flora and fauna will coward before me as I light their asses up on fire.

This game is massive, but don’t let that deter you. Mike has already stated he is hesitant about purchasing this game as it is a huge time sink. It is, but its manageable. The game can be enjoyed in short bursts, and like Saints Row or GTAIV or other sandbox games, there are so many things in the world of Skyrim to keep you busy that I don’t think it could ever get boring. Missions seem to come at me in lightning speed and each one has been manageable in under a couple hours. I spent forty or so minutes on picking mushrooms or plants, ate them to see what sort of ailment or benefit they would have to offer me…for some reason this was fun. I don’t know why. My point is, activities have not worn on me yet. They are all enjoyable and come in short bursts. This game has so much going on that it can hold the attention of my dear friend Mike who has been afflicted with horrible gaming ADD. What ever activities you choose to do in this game, you can finish in a one to two hour game session after work. Throw in the fact that the auto save function of this game works great, and you can even toggle how frequent you want it to auto save when you enter the menu (Mike will really like this feature considering his last rant), it makes for a very stress free RPG.

Skyrim Map

It may not look it, but Skyrim is one dense game. Its HUGE!

I could go on and on about this game, but go read the myriad of reviews out there for Skyrim if you want more details. There are plenty of them. To sum it up, the game looks great, controls are improved over other Bethesda games, and this could be the one Western RPG to rule them all. If you are like me, and miss some of the finer details Morrowind or Oblivion had to offer…I suggest picking up Dark Souls with Skyrim. The two compliment each other well. On the one hand you have Dark Souls which is a dungeon crawling, experience point grind fest, littered with tense and complex battles and has some of he best RPG game mechanics I’ve seen come out of a Japanese game development studio for ages. On the other hand you have Skyrim which is accessible to any gamer (no matter what genre you cherish most), has a rich and open game world that allows you to experience it at your own pace, is a very refined Western RPG and is deffinitely contender for best game of the year.

On that note, lets hear what Derek has to say about his first few hours with Syrim.

DEREK:

To sum it up:

Skyrim!

Skyrim!

Well then, Josh wrote a nice detailed review and, for the most part, I could just say “what he said” but I’ll write the CliffsNotes version of a review!

So yes I’m not a RPG know-it-all, I play games that are fun and I like (makes sense I know). Unlike Josh, I DO OWN all the Final Fantasy games, however I’ve only finished 4 of them:  Final Fantasy I, Final Fantasy VI, Final Fantasy VII, and… Final Fantasy Mystic Quest!!!

Like Josh, I never completed Baldur’s Gate 2, haven’t finished all the Ultima games, and I got VERY close to finishing Lands of Lore (that one with Patrick Stewart).

Patrick Stewart played King Richard in Lands of Lore

Patrick Stewart played King Richard in Lands of Lore

And Patrick Stewart voice acted  in Oblivion as the Emperor:

Patrick Stewart in Lands of Lore

Patrick Stewart as Emperor Uriel Septim VII in Oblivion

Did you know, in addition to Patrick Stewart playing the Emperor Uriel Septim VII in Oblivion, Sean Bean (who was Boromir in The Lord of the Rings) was Martin Septim, the Emperor’s son!

Sean Bean as Emperor Martin Septim in Oblivion, Who's your daddy? Patrick Stewart!

Sean Bean as Emperor Martin Septim in Oblivion, Who's your daddy? Patrick Stewart!

But I DID complete Fallout 3, another Bethesda game (which had Liam Neeson in it).

Liam Neeson in Fallout 3 (as your dad!)

Liam Neeson in Fallout 3 (as your dad!)

And I DID complete Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2, which had Seth Green… Ok enough movie trivia.

Seth Green as Jeff "Joker" Moreau in the Mass Effect series

Seth Green as Jeff "Joker" Moreau in the Mass Effect series

I did complete Oblivion but my record of finishing Elder Scrolls games aren’t that impressive. To confess, Oblivion was the only Elder Scrolls game I finished. I usually just watched Josh play Arena, and if I ever played Arena I’d just break into people’s homes and then get attacked by some random monster in their house… WHO THE HELL LEAVES MONSTERS IN THEIR HOMES?

Arena: Break in a home and monsters are in it!

Arena: Break in a home and monsters are in it! This photo is not a home exactly, but similar experience as to breaking into one

Anyways, enough rambling… Skyrim time. So like Josh, I’ve only played for a few hours so far and already I can say (just like every other PAID professional reviewer), it’s awesome. I like the fact that the developers integrated music from other Elder Scrolls games into it as it added a nice touch and reminds the player of all the other fun Elder Scrolls games. The conversations with townsfolk seems more real in the sense they have a variety of voices versus the same male or female voice in every character as was in Oblivion. And lastly,  the world is BIG.  Very scenic, if you hate nature, buy this game and just roam around to get a nature walk in and it will change your outlook on naturey things… Just watch out for a giant Woolly Mammoth and some guy with a huge hammer… luckily he didn’t kick my ass when I saw him. I was tempted to hit him with my sword but I didn’t feel like dying.

The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim: Woolly Mammoths and guy with big hammer

The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim: Woolly Mammoths and guy with big hammer

The game is challenging enough to make you think about your strategy, but not insanely hard where you just want to curl up into a fetal position and cry (which is what Dark Souls 2 will do to you).

The immense amount of things you can do in the game, in addition to all the quests, keeps it entertaining. From picking flowers, killing elk and getting their skin to make leather, crafting armor, sharpening swords, making bricks of iron, enchanting things, cooking rabbit stew, stealing people’s produce while they don’t even realize it, to killing a chicken and having the whole town kick your ass because you killed their chicken!!

Don't kill the sacred chicken in Skyrim

Don't kill the sacred chicken in Skyrim

And there are a plethora of ways to customize your character. I’m still trying to figure out what I’m trying to be… I wanna be a bad ass that wears heavy armor, can kill with one swing of the sword, and have a magic spell that if i sneeze the world will reshape. Until I figure out how that will work, stay tuned.

That’s it for my first impressions.  Stay tuned!

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