Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Arrival in Skyrim

It was somewhat delayed both justifiably and no quite so, but I finally arrived in Skyrim late Monday evening. I must say that graphics wise, things are rather quite disappointing. I remember saying "that's pretty" when I first booted up The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and even Two Worlds II. That didn't happen with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Instead, I said, "Ewww, why is the character hair looks so bad?" Of course, I am playing the Personal Computer version of the game and I have everything maxed out on the graphics options and the game runs really smooth but it is so obvious that the limitations of the X-Box 360 are being kept in mind by developer Bethesda. Thankfully, PC owners do get to play in higher native resolution, almost non-existent load time, and we do get a longer view distance but those bad shadows, bad character polygons, and bad textures... Well, they are just... awful! When you look at everything from afar, things look good - as long as you can avoid long-distance rivers (ugh, they are ugly) - but then once you get close to things, it's like wow, how could it be this terrible? At least the PC community is hard at work to beautify this game. I am not big on gameplay tweaks - that is also called cheating - but I am all about graphics mods. If you can believe it, there are already so many nice graphical mods available and they do improve upon the homely look of the game.

The world of Skyrim is populated by ghosts. We don't leave footprints in the snow...

The visuals may not be all that but the gameplay is definitely there. I do find the prologue to this open world role playing game to be rather weak however. It tried to create a dire situation out of nothing and it ended up feeling a bit forced despite containing a rather gruesome and disturbing scene in it. I am now 4 hours into the game and a couple of levels up and I am just trying to follow the main quest line while indulging in a little bit of the side quests. Things haven't been terribly engaging but the game is quite fun. I am playing the game in third person mode almost exclusively, which is impossible to do in past entries, and it works beautifully unless of course, when I am trying to use a bow. Because of that, I am just going to abandon archery completely. I am very impressed by the perks system that provides immediate impacts on your specialization choices. It makes you feel immediately powerful every time you level up and it also rewards you for planning out a specific character build to be effective in combat. There is definitely a lot of room for experimentation here and creating new characters should be a lot more fun than the previous entries in the series. The perk system is apparently an innovation that is improved upon from the one found in Fallout 3. It must be noted also that Skyrim, like Oblivion, is designed around the use of the gamepad but unlike Oblivion, the gamepad support is built into Skyrim. Good luck navigating the bad interface using a keyboard and mouse if you decide to play it that way. Overall though, I can see a lot of potential in this game. I am really looking forward to building up my destruction plus conjuration focused character. I am playing this concurrently alongside Fallout: New Vegas however, so I am hoping I am not going to get horribly exhausted by them.

Beta testing Star Wars: The Old Republic...

FIRST IMPRESSION: 4 out of 5

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