Doesn’t time fly! A whole year has passed since what was, for me at least, last year’s biggest and most important game was released; The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I have to be honest, I wasn’t that excited for the game in the run up to its launch. I hadn’t seen any previews or indeed any of the trailers. I did however enjoy its predecessor, 2006’s ‘Oblivion’, so at the last possible minute I preordered the game on a whim not knowing what to expect.
And it’s a good job I didn’t know what the game was like, because I would have been sorely disappointed. Not because the game isn’t good, it’s incredible, but because my copy is for the PlayStation 3. The PS3 version to this day is still riddled with bugs and glitches, to put it simply the game should not have been released last November, it wasn’t ready. The situation is so bad that the games first 2 sets of DLC still haven’t been released for it despite coming out in June and September for the Xbox 360. A new piece of DLC called ‘Dragonborn’ has been announced for December and Bethesda have said that they are ‘close’ on bringing the content to PS3, but I’m not holding my breath. Putting out these occasional obfuscated statements to me sounds more like a company pretending it’s trying to correct the issues so that customers a) don’t rebel against the company’s future releases and b) keep buying Skyrim, why would a new customer buy the game knowing the developer had given up on fixing its issues?
So enough with the negatives, lets move firmly onto the positives, it wouldn’t be my favourite game of last year if it were all game breaking bugs and dragons freezing in the air. Lets start with the dragons. I get a sharp sense of excitement when I remember the first time my low-leveled character took one of these beasts down and absorbed its soul. I felt a rush of excitement that a game hasn’t given me in a very good amount of time. Plus there’s the immersive world to explore. From dense forests to harsh icy coasts, the world truly feels like it could exist in a bygone era, obviously sans dragons though. You’ll often find yourself choosing to forgo the ‘fast travel’ feature, where you can simply teleport to your required destination, in favour of traveling the many miles on horseback or on foot exploring the dense wilderness, uncovering caves, mines and tombs. You’ll also get to meet all the inhabitants of Skyrim, from the deer and dogs to the giants and the mammoths they herd. There are also the Frostbite Spiders.
These giants’ man-sized eight legged bastards scare the living heck out of me. Now I’m not a spider person at the best of times, and out in the wilderness I’ll happily take them out with whatever I have at hand, but when I’m exploring a claustrophobic tomb with little room to maneuver and they come down from the ceiling, dangling from their webs I genuinely get a bit scared, to put it mildly. And once you’ve killed them it doesn’t get any better. Exploring a cave you’ve previously been in means their corpses litter the landscape. Their bodies don’t vanish and when you walk over one, its corpse will be carried for a few seconds as it gets caught on your foot. As humans we are engineered to watch out for movement, especially when on our guard, so even seeing these hairy creeps being carried dead by my ankle puts me on edge. So it’s even worse when the one bugger you missed runs up and starts attacking you in your face, you’re left with nothing to do except screaming ‘KILL IT! KILL IT WITH FIRE!’ whilst mashing the R1 button until whatever you’re current equipped with makes enough contact with its mess of eyes that it ceases exist. Not the manliest thing in the world I’ll admit.
Plus there’s the music. All I’ll say is every time I listen to this (http://youtu.be/Ga8KbMcUfm8) I’m immediately transported back to the snow covered forests with nothing but a bow and arrow during the calm before the storm, as I’m about to harvest the soul of a dragon. Pure gaming bliss.
If you haven’t yet played this incredible game (which according to my save data file I’ve surpassed 100 hours of game play on, oh dear) then I highly recommend you do. It’s a deep and rich experience in an expertly crafted world. Sure it’s got its issues, but you can’t love something if it doesn’t have a bit of character to it. But for the love of god stay away from the PS3 version.
By Ian Dutton