The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim


By: Jess Nickelsen    On: Xbox 360
Published: Friday 11 Nov 2011 8:06 AM
 
 
 
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You’re a convict in a strange freezing land, nabbed for something you didn’t do, and subsequently sentenced to death. There’s snow on the ground, and blood still pools on the block from the person beheaded only moments before you. The headsman gestures to you, and people in furs with strange accents watch coldly on as you are lead to the block. As you kneel down, you think you hear a strange roar...

Then everyone sees the dragon and all hell breaks loose.

That’s the beginning of Skyrim, the fifth title of the Elder Scrolls series, which sets you down in the cold northern region (also called Skyrim), which is home to the Nords, and far to the north of the regions Cyrodiil and Vvardenfell, where the earlier games Morrowind and Oblivion were set.

Like the previous titles, you begin the game in rags, homeless, friendless, and with no idea of the great destiny that awaits you. In the case of Skyrim, your character is one of a rare few Dragonborn - a person with the ability to harness The Voice, a language-based power used by dragons. With the land in serious political upheaval after the High King is assassinated, choices that you make over the course of your adventures will affect the outcome of this land’s internal struggle.

In terms of character creation, there are ten different races to choose from - including various flavours of humans and elves, as well as the cat-like Khajit and amphibian Argonians. Once the hard choice has been made (each race has different strengths and weaknesses), from this point you can choose from a wide range of cosmetic customisation options, such as sex, facial features, hair, warpaint, and scars. You’ll notice right away that there has been a massive leap forward from the huge blocky faces of Morrowind and Oblivion. The updated character design system is fantastic.

There’s also been a considerable change to the skills aspect in that - unlike previous Elder Scrolls titles - you don’t choose a class when you create your character. Bonuses to skills are instead bequeathed on players by way of ‘sign blessings’, which are activated at ancient standing stones that you’ll find dotted across the land. Initially you can choose from a blessing from the warrior, mage or thief, which gives you a 20% speed to learning the chosen class’s skills, but later you’ll come across others and can change your blessings as you like.

From this point on, the development of your character is completely up to you. This is one thing I have always enjoyed about the Elder Scrolls games (and if you have never played them before it may come as a surprise): you can develop your character in any way you like. You can play as a mage in heavy armour, a barbarian who likes to pick flowers and make potions, or a fighter who likes sneaking and pickpocketing. What’s more, leveling up doesn’t come from earning experience points, but instead through the gradual acquisition of skills, so working on your blacksmithing will bring you nearer to the next level just as quickly as hacking through skeletons will.

Levelling has also had some streamlining. In the past when you levelled up you’d be allocated a set number of skill points, which you could then use to further increase different skills. However this time around, when you level up you select from either Magic, Health or Stamina to increase your capacity in that area by ten points. You also are given one perk point, to assign to the skill perk tree of your choice, assuming you meet the requirements. You can save up your perk points and allocate them later on for one specific area, or spread them around to make the overall gameplay more interesting.

While initially these options felt a bit dumbed down, I changed my mind once I had a good look through all of the different perk options. There’s so much here, from perks to increase your basic blacksmith skill so you can work with more exotic materials, to one that gives you better chances to pickpocket sleeping NPCs. It’s different, but it works.

Shouts, a new type of character ability, are special dragon-voiced commands that you’ll pick up as you progress through the game. They are essentially ‘super abilities’, that can grow in power as you learn extra words that you can then string together. Some can be quite devastating, such as the shout that will knock your enemies to the ground, stunning them in the process, while others have more specific uses, such as the shout that will calm angry animals. They work pretty well in regular battle, but dragons seem to be particularly susceptible to their powers.

Skills aside, where the Elder Scrolls games really shine is in the opportunities they give the player for exploration. Like the other games, Skyrim boasts a huge map, populated with all sorts of interesting people and places to discover, and with no railroading to your gameplay or travel choices.

Continue reading on page 2.




 

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Comments (33)

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MatEPoon
On Friday 11 Nov 2011 8:59 AM Posted by MatEPoon
Come ONNN pre-order!
 
 
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Jogga
On Friday 11 Nov 2011 9:14 AM Posted by Jogga NZGamer.com VIP
Wait... You dropped the graphics score because of some glitches in the gameplay? Oh yup, seems legit.
 
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RealmEnder
On Friday 11 Nov 2011 9:17 AM Posted by RealmEnder
Pre order is on the way :) Expecting it to be GOTY
 
 
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Original_Noob
On Friday 11 Nov 2011 9:18 AM Posted by Original_Noob NZGamer.com VIP
4-12 working days until i can play this, but such an awesome review makes it worth the wait!
 
 
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lingm04
On Friday 11 Nov 2011 9:29 AM Posted by lingm04 NZGamer.com VIP
Graphics 8/10? Wtf.
 
 
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SpawnSeekSlay
On Friday 11 Nov 2011 9:30 AM Posted by SpawnSeekSlay NZGamer.com VIP
Apparently JBHifi didn't get their supply till late yesterday so not sending till today, looks like I'll be having to wait till Monday at the earliest to get my preorder :(

I stopped reading this review from the first few lines, I'm a bit disappointed u spoiled the start of the game with such detail to start ur review. Those sort of spoilers aren't really necessary. Hence why I've avoided watching the leaked footage.
I'll come back and read it after Im a few hours in.
Any chance of a review on the ps3 for it also? For comparasion, just think it would be interesting because they have avoided showing the ps3 version
 
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Deanology
On Friday 11 Nov 2011 10:01 AM Posted by Deanology NZGamer.com VIP
Looks like i'm goin for a walk down the road.
 
 
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Syn-Ryn
On Friday 11 Nov 2011 10:04 AM Posted by Syn-Ryn NZGamer.com VIP
11 November 2011, 09:29 AM Reply to lingm04
Graphics 8/10? Wtf.
Well, you see... there was this gameplay glitch entirely unrelated to the games graphics. So logically, they had to mark the graphics down.
 
 
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phantom
On Friday 11 Nov 2011 10:06 AM Posted by phantom NZGamer.com VIP
11 November 2011, 09:29 AM Reply to lingm04
Graphics 8/10? Wtf.
The graphics are occasionally awesome, occasionally average. 8 seems right to me?
 
 
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Chronopie
On Friday 11 Nov 2011 10:21 AM Posted by Chronopie
Just nit-picking, but shouldn't glitches go under 'gameplay' rather than 'graphics'?
 
 
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Ubercuber
On Friday 11 Nov 2011 10:22 AM Posted by Ubercuber NZGamer.com VIP
11 November 2011, 09:14 AM Reply to Jogga
Wait... You dropped the graphics score because of some glitches in the gameplay? Oh yup, seems legit.
Yeah thats pretty odd...
 
 
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phantom
On Friday 11 Nov 2011 10:35 AM Posted by phantom NZGamer.com VIP
11 November 2011, 10:21 AM Reply to Chronopie
Just nit-picking, but shouldn't glitches go under 'gameplay' rather than 'graphics'?
Not necessarily. Some of them are graphical, and clearly that's what Jess found more jarring.
 
 
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KatalystaKaos
On Friday 11 Nov 2011 10:36 AM Posted by KatalystaKaos NZGamer.com VIP
11 November 2011, 09:30 AM Reply to SpawnSeekSlay
Apparently JBHifi didn't get their supply till late yesterday so not sending till today, looks like I'll be having to wait till Monday at the earliest to get my preorder :(

I stopped reading this review from the first few lines, I'm a bit disappointed u spoiled the start of the game with such detail to start ur review. Those sort of spoilers aren't really necessary. Hence why I've avoided watching the leaked footage.
I'll come back and read it after Im a few hours in.
Any chance of a review on the ps3 for it also? For comparasion, just think it would be interesting because they have avoided showing the ps3 version
The PS3 currently has a slightly lower aggregate score at gamerankings.com but also has substantially less reviews than the Xb360 version.

I'm undecided as to which console version I will be going with so will be hiring both over the weekend to compare in order to help with the final purchase decision.
 
 
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wangwei1
On Friday 11 Nov 2011 12:42 PM Posted by wangwei1
11 November 2011, 10:36 AM Reply to KatalystaKaos
The PS3 currently has a slightly lower aggregate score at gamerankings.com but also has substantially less reviews than the Xb360 version.

I'm undecided as to which console version I will be going with so will be hiring both over the weekend to compare in order to help with the final purchase decision.
Here is a comparison between PS3 and Xbox360 version of the game.

http://www.nowgamer.com/features/1126562/skyrim_ps3_vs_xbox_360_screen_comparison.html

The PS3 version seems to have brighter brights and darker darks as well as slightly deeper shadows and a touch bit crispier, but you REALLY have to look at the two a few times to see that.

Overall, the differences are negligible...
 
 
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lingm04
On Friday 11 Nov 2011 12:50 PM Posted by lingm04 NZGamer.com VIP
11 November 2011, 09:14 AM Reply to Jogga
Wait... You dropped the graphics score because of some glitches in the gameplay? Oh yup, seems legit.
Exactly. Why not just give gameplay 9/10 then? Weird.
 
 
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ChatterboxZombie
On Friday 11 Nov 2011 12:53 PM Posted by ChatterboxZombie NZGamer.com VIP
Lemme get this straight, this game got 10 outta 10 on 3 out of 4 area's, and people are STILL complaining that the score is unfair?

Jesus christ I hate stupid number-scores...
 
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Ubercuber
On Friday 11 Nov 2011 1:00 PM Posted by Ubercuber NZGamer.com VIP
11 November 2011, 12:42 PM Reply to wangwei1
Here is a comparison between PS3 and Xbox360 version of the game.

http://www.nowgamer.com/features/1126562/skyrim_ps3_vs_xbox_360_screen_comparison.html

The PS3 version seems to have brighter brights and darker darks as well as slightly deeper shadows and a touch bit crispier, but you REALLY have to look at the two a few times to see that.

Overall, the differences are negligible...
Sounds like the PS3 is a brand of washing machine powder.
 
 
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Jogga
On Friday 11 Nov 2011 1:12 PM Posted by Jogga NZGamer.com VIP
11 November 2011, 12:53 PM Reply to ChatterboxZombie
Lemme get this straight, this game got 10 outta 10 on 3 out of 4 area's, and people are STILL complaining that the score is unfair?

Jesus christ I hate stupid number-scores...
I'm not complaining that the score is unfair. I'm complaining because graphics were marked down for a problem in the gameplay. That's unprofessional. And I'm not pointing it out because I want graphics to get a higher score or whatever, I'm pointing it out because it's a problem with the review. I'm allowed to criticise.
 
 
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Sonic
On Friday 11 Nov 2011 3:29 PM Posted by Sonic
11 November 2011, 12:42 PM Reply to wangwei1
Here is a comparison between PS3 and Xbox360 version of the game.

http://www.nowgamer.com/features/1126562/skyrim_ps3_vs_xbox_360_screen_comparison.html

The PS3 version seems to have brighter brights and darker darks as well as slightly deeper shadows and a touch bit crispier, but you REALLY have to look at the two a few times to see that.

Overall, the differences are negligible...
is it just me or does the ps3 version look a fair amount better on this? I'm shocked as I'm a ps3 fan boy, but kind of expected the Xbox version to be better.. (I know nothing about hardware so please refrain from flames) Liking how it looks =)
 
 
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Jess
On Friday 11 Nov 2011 7:25 PM Posted by Jess
I'm a bit disappointed that people are more interested in discussing points scoring rather than the game itself. But if you would like specifics:

The bug happened in the key story quest, where my character was meant to shoot something at some developing targets (I'm keeping this vague on purpose), produced by other characters. They stepped up to the mark, produced the first part of the effect, but the target itself did not materialise.

If this was a hardcoded bug then to my logic there'd be no difference in the result no matter how many times I reloaded the game. In this case, I reloaded from an earlier save point, played through, and the targets materialised.

I believe this was a 360-performance glitch rather than poor gameplay development. Normally I don't even care about graphical bugs in games, but in this case as it stopped me from being able to progress the main quest I was not impressed, and marked it down accordingly.

Failure to develop to the lowest common denominator, in terms of platform performance, is not the same thing as developing a game with various gameplay faults. I hope you can at least respect my reasons for scoring as I have. If not - well, play the game yourself and post your own player review :)
 
 
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wangwei1
On Friday 11 Nov 2011 8:13 PM Posted by wangwei1
11 November 2011, 01:00 PM Reply to Ubercuber
Sounds like the PS3 is a brand of washing machine powder.
ha ha ha.. I get your humor but not everybody does.
 
 
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tnzk
On Friday 11 Nov 2011 8:43 PM Posted by tnzk
Cool review, and as an Elder Scrolls fan, I'm excited that this is more akin to Morrowind than Oblivion in vibe.

But yeah, there's some really weird logic in dropping the graphics score for something related to gameplay: "More concerning were several quests where specific events didn’t trigger, though upon reload and replay of the sequence I was able to progress - for this I’ve dropped the graphics score."
 
 
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tnzk
On Friday 11 Nov 2011 8:50 PM Posted by tnzk
11 November 2011, 07:25 PM Reply to Jess
I'm a bit disappointed that people are more interested in discussing points scoring rather than the game itself. But if you would like specifics:

The bug happened in the key story quest, where my character was meant to shoot something at some developing targets (I'm keeping this vague on purpose), produced by other characters. They stepped up to the mark, produced the first part of the effect, but the target itself did not materialise.

If this was a hardcoded bug then to my logic there'd be no difference in the result no matter how many times I reloaded the game. In this case, I reloaded from an earlier save point, played through, and the targets materialised.

I believe this was a 360-performance glitch rather than poor gameplay development. Normally I don't even care about graphical bugs in games, but in this case as it stopped me from being able to progress the main quest I was not impressed, and marked it down accordingly.

Failure to develop to the lowest common denominator, in terms of platform performance, is not the same thing as developing a game with various gameplay faults. I hope you can at least respect my reasons for scoring as I have. If not - well, play the game yourself and post your own player review :)
Fair call. The way you've worded it in the review, however, makes it sound like a gameplay bug, and not a visual glitch. It'd probably be helpful if you indicated in the review it's a visual glitch, which is certainly a graphics programming error.

Bethesda games are known to be coded by drunken monkeys. Don't you think it's kind of funny we were all assumed you were talking about a truly game-breaking bug from Bethesda?! lol
 
 
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uk_john
On Friday 11 Nov 2011 10:03 PM Posted by uk_john
I know this is yet another 360 review (try finding PS3 or PC reviews!), but I cannot see how can the game can be "super immersive" with a UI that consists of Fallout style glossy horizontal and vertical bars, along with a very modern font, and an in-game 3D zoomable map with realtime weather effects that would require that your character has a smart phone with Google Earth in his back pack to view it! Given

The Elder Scrolls games are medieval fantasy, rather that sci-fi fantasy, I am amazed no reviewer has pointed out how UNIMMERSIVE the Skyrim UI and in-game map is!
 
 
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Qualanqui
On Saturday 12 Nov 2011 8:49 AM Posted by Qualanqui
I can't wait The Elder Scrolls are some of the best games ever made
 
 
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procion
On Sunday 13 Nov 2011 9:39 PM Posted by procion
I had to order TWO copies. One from America, the Collector's edition because Bethesda, major A-holes that they are only released 200 CEs for the NZ market(all gone in TWO HOURS I'm told. btw Bethesda were not interested in helping me get an NZ copy of the CE nor on providing any more for anyone else. I have lost ALL respect for them ANd their flaming trolling mod staff on their forums), and the local NZ Limited Edition so that any dlc thet the hated Bethesda finally deign to release on psn will work with my game. I must say I had fun at the midnight launch that Gio and staff of Queen st EB provided for us 100 pushers in and outside the EB Queen st store. Thanks EB and to Gio too for having such a great team(& for providing us free cans of coke whilst we awaited midnight). I immediately ran home parkour like and posted gleefully my beskyrimmed statis to all the chronically challenged readers whom live behind NZ time zone. Ahh bliss. Join skyrimguild.com for a friendlier happier bunch than the betrolled mods whom I no longer suffer on the official Bethesda forums. Cads, tha lot...
 
 
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procion
On Sunday 13 Nov 2011 9:51 PM Posted by procion
have you tried an Elder Scrolls game before? I guess you have yet to try this. i was sorely afraid of freeze-up after the glitchy mess that is Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas(yes I await the deadtones chorus of Obsidian made New Vegas from the star crossed bethesda panegyric fanclub. NV is a broken glitcky freezing mess)But This game has proven to be able to handle what it is throwing at itself. Not one freeze up in Skyrim yet. That must count for something. how about renting the game out for a night, and if the beautifully rendered vistas and intrepid melee does not pique your gamer's interest then try something alse, but give it a try. Who knows you may even surprise yourself. I was, and I was expecting freezes after the promises we got after Fallout 3...
 
 
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procion
On Sunday 13 Nov 2011 9:53 PM Posted by procion
Don't worry mate. It will be well worth your wait. You'll love it...
 
 
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procion
On Sunday 13 Nov 2011 10:05 PM Posted by procion
I'm surprised the game HAS any 360 glitches. It well known how far m$'s hand goes up Bethesda's backside almost to the point where one would control the mouth movements on a muppet. Everything about this game reeks of 360...all the photo ops in their site and on fb, done with the 360 versions. 260 achievements not ps3 trophies being listed. M$ scabbing as usual for times exclusivity on dlc which only causes friction within thye gaming community. I use my ps3 more than my xbox, but in regards to this franchise and its canon, where have pc gamers been left in all this. Seeing its Skyrim, maybe out in the cold is not necessarily a bad thing, but I do think that Bethesda, even with the threat of blackmail that M$ is infamous for, could try and be a little less obvious in who they favour over who in regards to marketing or even game quality over platform preference...
 
 
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cortez72
On Sunday 13 Nov 2011 11:01 PM Posted by cortez72 NZGamer.com VIP
Been playing on and off over the weekend. It's as glitchy as I would expect from the franchise, mostly minor stuff.

I have watched a Giants club slowly float off up into the air. Had numerous characters get stuck when following or leading me somewhere.

But the bug which has angered me the most: After loading my save game today, all my weapon damage ratings seem to have reset themselves- the 40% multiplier I have earnt is no longer in effect. So weapon stats have dropped down :S My 2 handed sword now does 22 instead of 29...

And I don't want to go online to look for others reports of this, because I don't want to be spoiled.
 
 
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add-man
On Monday 14 Nov 2011 7:25 AM Posted by add-man
Didn't really need to read the review because skyrim is so awesome that anyone who tries to put it down just looks like a jerk, i read this to keep myself from robing eb games on my way home
 
 
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leopardsqueezy
On Wednesday 16 Nov 2011 10:46 AM Posted by leopardsqueezy
Played all weekend. Conclusion: best game this generation, probably ever.
 
 
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Zurcher
On Monday 19 Dec 2011 6:41 PM Posted by Zurcher
14 November 2011, 07:25 AM Reply to add-man
Didn't really need to read the review because skyrim is so awesome that anyone who tries to put it down just looks like a jerk, i read this to keep myself from robing eb games on my way home
I thought I was the only one!
 
 
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