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Skyrim: Not GOTY Material

Skyrim got a lot of praise last year. Many people were astounded at the work Bethesda did. When I saw the announcement for Skyrim I may not have been excited like the Elder Scrolls die hards that played Daggerfall and Morrowind; I was excited for the game because I loved Oblivion. It was under my own idea that Skyrim was going to be “Oblivion 2.0” and I was hoping for this, because Oblivion was damn near perfect. While talking to some PC gaming friends as well as some Elder Scrolls fans they were reaching their orgasm about the Nord homeland ever since the teaser. The look of the game was fantastic and the trailers did an excellent job of getting me excited to play the game.

Skyrim is on the brink of total Civil war. The Empire wants to take over Skyrim for financial reasons. While the Nords believe it is a Nord land and the they should be in control. Not only that, but for unknown reasons the dragons are back with a vengeance. And this is where your quest starts. Upon entering the game you are about to be executed while the powerful dragon, Alduin is attacking the city of Helgen. Upon your escape you establish where to go and what to do on your quest to save Skyrim. Skyrim must rely on one man, the Dragonborn.

 

That is really all you need to know about the story. From there you can do whatever you want. You can proceed in the story, or just wander Skyrim raiding dungeons and spend 100 hours not touching the story quests. This is Skyrim’s appeal of being a RPG. You are not obligated to fulfill the story quests. While the story seems urgent there is no time restraint. There is plenty to explore and that is the purpose of Skyrim, to build your own story. All of the Elder Scrolls games offer this kind of freedom.

The best part about RPGs is building your own character. Customization is the best part about these kinds of games. Having a large list to choose from opens up your options. In Skyrim you can spend hours customizing the face of your Dovahkiin (Dragonborn), despite the fact you will most likely wear a helmet the whole game. A small but significant feature about character creation was also taken out, choosing to be male or female changed the skill proficiencies and stats of the hero. In Skyrim they are equal so it doesn’t matter. One of the aspects that I enjoyed about Oblivion was the customization. It is nowhere near as large and prominent in Skyrim. When you created a character in Oblivion you had to choose your sign, which effected the growth of your character, and skills that you were going to be proficient in. Once you picked your sign and skills you were stuck with that and you were going to be that kind of specialist whether you like it or not. Skyrim, the new level up system is much more simplified and you can become a god character and be way above average in damn near everything.

A game that bases itself off of customization and building your unique character has now been taken out. This is Skyrim’s biggest issue. While you can still choose to have your specialist character it is very easy to become an all around character. You don’t play Super Smash Bros to play as Mario. I feel like that analogy works in this case. While the game is still very enjoyable it does not feel like an Elder Scrolls game in terms of building your own unique character. The extra gameplay mechanics like dual wielding and dragon shouts are incredibly nice.

 

Gameplay and one of the most basic RPG elements like customization aside, the storytelling and the way the game presents itself as an epic narrative about one man born with a unique gift that must embrace his destiny and save the people of Skyrim. As you progress through the game and interact with the people of Skyrim and help them with their problems you can see the different places and how unique each place is. While the interactions with some characters are rather odd and the marriage system is nothing short of strange you still have fun playing the game.

As an Elder Scrolls title, Skyrim does not live up to the RPG elements in terms of gameplay like the previous games. If Skyrim was a standalone title and not an Elder Scrolls game it is great. But when you carry the franchise name the standards should be held higher. Just because it is the newest title and it has a cool trailer doesn’t mean the game should get a pass. There were a lot of things Skyrim’s predecessors did right, and very few of them transferred. The game feels like a significant downgrade which was very disappointing. In a way, it felt like a Bioware sequel. It lost many RPG elements and focused too much on on action. Skyrim gets an 8/10 for being good, but just not good enough.

4 Comments

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  1. MaulYoda says
    February 29, 2012, 7:17 PM

    “I may not have been excited like the Elder Scrolls die hards that played Daggerfall and Morrowind”

    Believe me, there weren’t many Daggerfall fans that were excited for Skyrim. You could also become a god character in Oblivion, just at level 5 because everything was level scaled. Granted, the mechanics had more depth, but still

    Overall though, while I feel Skyrim is a better game than Oblivion in general (but obviously lacking as an RPG, not that Oblivion was so great at that to begin with), I agree that it is not GOTY material and deserves an 8/10

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  2. Simon C. says
    February 12, 2012, 5:34 PM

    I think Skyrim is definitely GOTY material because of what it actually accomplishes to do and executes it well. Of course this is needed for any good game but Skyrim goes above and beyond to create a sense of experience and immersion that other games have a hard time doing. I also think that you judge the review solely as an Elder Scrolls game rather than a game. While it’s good to compare and look at what its previous installment has done, the review has far too much of “It’s not Oblivion” or “It didn’t do what Oblivion exceled at.” I think it’s another to say “It didn’t do what Oblivion did but the new mechanics that replaced it don’t work well.”

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  3. John says
    February 12, 2012, 11:32 AM

    The only real argument here is that Skyrim doesn’t have the complicated character setup that Oblivion did at the beginning. But Skyrim still has plenty of customization through the perk tree and character creator, but comes out stronger by allowing for flexibility throughout the course of the game. I personally prefer having more choice and freedom in a game that is entirely structured around that concept.

    Furthermore, your Mario analogy is weak; you are begging the question of why it works, because you have only stated that it is possible to play any kind of character you wish, not just a well-rounded one.

    So… because Skyrim isn’t a carbon copy of Oblivion, it sucks? I personally prefer quality to stagnancy, so I like Skyrim more than Oblivion.

    Not convincing

    Reply
  4. Gabe says
    February 11, 2012, 8:52 PM

    very respectable score and review. I can understand that not everyone would respond to this game with massive amounts of praise and critical acclaim. I haven’t actually had the chance to play it yet, though I agree that when they were simplifying the game down so much from Oblivion (a game that I love), I winced a bit. when I actually play it, I’ll see if it bothers me as much as I think it might. still, your forthrightness about it is appreciated.

    Reply

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