Developer: Bethesda Softworks
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Genre: Open World/RPG/Adventure
There aren't many games with this many bugs, where I would say that the presentation is phenomenal. Then again, there aren't many open world games that look, sound, and play as well as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The game opens in Skyrim with you having been captured and on your way to your execution. The executioner ask for your name and in typical Bethesda fashion, this opens up the character creation screen. Here you are shown a variety of playable classes in Skyrim, such as the Khajiit which is a race of cat people who are known throughout Skyrim as thieves and miscreants, the Argonians who are a race of lizard people, as well as several choices of Elves and Humans. All playable races have completely customizable facial features and genders and they all provide different experiences for both gameplay and interactions with NPCs. The Khajiit (cat people) provide a bonus to sneaking but many NPCs are actually racist against them. The Nords on the other hand, (Humans) are from Skyrim and are generally very excepted. After making your character, you will be taken to be executed. This is when the dragons show up. The guards quickly forget about your execution and your free to escape your once pending doom and enter the vast beauty of Skyrim.
As the game progresses, you will be filled in on more of the back story of Skyrim. You'll learn about the power struggle going on between the Nords and the Imperials. The Nords, being the people of Skyrim, the State, who want to remain independent and the Imperials, the people who are trying to unite all of Tamriel, the Continent, under one government. The story is a very good reason to keep playing, as it is fantastic, but it is only one of the reasons to play Skyrim. The best of which is the exploration of the open world. When I say "vast beauty" there should really be an emphasis on vast. The game is absolutely huge. I have spent about 30 hours traveling across Skyrim and I have only seen about 1/3 of the locations and most of those were just passing through. The missions will take you to most of the important places in the game, such as The College of Winterhold which is a school for those who wish to practice magic, the town of Whiterun which is a town which that chooses neutrality in the growing conflict, the town of Riften which is home to the thieves guild, and much more, but if you want to see everything (and you do) than you will have to spend hundreds of hours searching.
While you're searching you will be treated to a soundtrack that does an amazing job of inspiring adventure and exploration and graphics that look just as good as most of the linear games we have been seeing resently. Water effects look incredible, the snow capped mountains look good, both when you see them in the distance and when you are climbing them, Dragons look amazing in flight and while breathing fire or ice, and the characters models look far better than before. Even the menus look better than they used to. The game uses a tech tree that is similar to what it was last time, but now the menus are made up of constellations to give the player the feeling that they are looking up at the stars. And of all the things that have been improved, the most impressive has to be the voice acting. It's hard to improve upon Oblivion's voice acting, but I think that they have just managed to do so with impressive voice acting for Humans, Argonians, Elves, Khajiit, and Dragons.
Of course, looking at the game would get very old if it was not fun to play. The entire game relies on it's tech trees and upgrades. Previous Bethesda games have had pretty bland tech trees, in which you would do random things like killing enemies or discovering new locations to level up. When you leveled up you could then put points into whatever you wanted. In Skyrim, if you want to upgrade a skill, you have to perform that skill. If you want to be better at using one handed weapons, than use them. If you want to be better at magic, then preform spells. This creates a much more organic leveling experience and makes the game less about the menus and more about experience itself. However the game has inherited some of the follies of it's predecessor. In Oblivion the combat was a bit of a sticking point, due to it's loose melee mechanics and I can't say that that has improved much. Finishing moves have been added, but they feel more like a random occurrence, than a work of skill. The problem mostly lies in the fact that enemies generally don't react to being hit until they die. This makes for a lot of battles that will have you just clicking your mouse and drinking potions over and over until your opponent dies. This can be avoided by sneaking or using magic, both of which are better options, as they generally have you using long range combat which works perfectly fine.
This is easily my favorite game this year. I have played 30 hours and I can't wait for more. There are bugs galore and the melee combat still isn't what it could be, but I also can't think of a game that is bigger, sounds better, plays better, or looks better than this game does. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim isn't just good, it's a masterpiece and it will go down as one of the greatest games of our generation.