Games Meet Metal: Skyrim: The Riff Review

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Skyrim: The Riff Review

Writen by Nathan Werp, aka Riff

Guarantee: this review will have absolutely no "arrow to the knee" jokes whatsoever. Maybe a mace to the head, a sword to the junk, or a lockpick unfairly jammed up someone's unfortunate hoo haa. Knees and arrows have no place here, dammit!

Skyrim starts you out in a rather uncomfortable position: en route to your beheading. Sitting next to you is Ulfric Stormcloak, a fellow who committed murder by killing the high king of Skyrim with the power of his voice. Shouted the poor guy to pieces, they say. You arrive at your final resting place, where you'll have the ability of choosing your appearance, race, sex, and stat bonuses. Then you'l be ready to roll heads with the rest of the executed  gang. Just as the executioner's ax is about to drop, it suddenly turns into OH SHIT DRAGON moment, as the first flying lizard seen in centuries decides to say hello by razing hell all over. Ulfric escapes in the confusion, and you decide it would also be wise to make a bee line out of town and to somewhere that isn't being burnt to the ground.

When you finally escape town is when you finally get into the real meat of the game: exploration. Go anywhere, literally. Just about everywhere is open in the game. There is one main quest, but the real addiction comes from all the sidequesting you'll be doing to collect money and experience. Want to become a thief? Head over to Riften and search out the Thieve's guild. All up on your magic? Hit up Winterhold's College of magic. Enjoy killing? The Dark Brotherhood has a spot open for you. How about joining in the civil war between the Imperial army and the Ulfric-lead Stormcloak clan? Join a side and help them bring victory to their enemies. No matter what, the choice is yours.

Eventually, you will return to the main fodder of the game, which is dealing with the reborn dragon problem, and trying to find out how to stop it. You'll discover that you are the Dragonborn, one of the few people ever to live with a natural ability to absorb dragon souls once they are dead. This also leads to learning your own shouts, or Thu'ums as they're called. These range from simple pushing and speed bursts, to fire and ice yells. You'll eventually be able to call dragons to your aid, or bind them so they stay on the ground where you can kill them a lot easier.

As you're doing the whole adventuring thing, you may get into quite the battle. Say, against a group of bandits or a rather vicious frost troll. Then, in the thick of it all, BAM! The whole game locks up on you! And that's the biggest downfall of this wonderful gem: the BUGS! Some have become the occasional internet meme, but these are no joke. Falling through the world, hideous slow down, stuck in objects, sloppy frame rate. While these glitches only happen on an occasional basis, they can be damn near game breaking. One glitch locked me out of a full quest, as my partner was teleported way past a room where he was supposed to magically move a stone so that we could travel on together. No stone moved, no hope for the townsfolk. Sorry, Downstar. Looks like you're just gonna have to suffer hideous nightmares forever.

So, Skyrim. What a beautiful, majestic, eye-gasmic, completely bug ridden masterpiece. Honestly, you have this game where it's the best and worst game of the year. At it's best, Skyrim is an adventure that can blow away most standard rpg's of the day. At it's worst, it's a lagging, clippy shithole that's committed to not letting you advance at all. Thankfully, the good outweighs the bad by a significant margain, but when the bugs do appear, you start wishing the game had another month or two in the oven.

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