The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Preview

We have yet another preview for Bethesda's The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, this time courtesy of 1UP, that informs us that they think it "already feels like Bethesda's best game", but also notes that the alpha build they were allowed to play was buggy and prone to crashes. Here's a sampling:
Rather than discuss or spoil quests and the like, I'm going to touch on the fundamental of how the game actually plays. The combat in particular is probably what most people are interested in experiencing, and the added weight and sense of gravity -- thanks in a very large part to Skyrim's completely rehauled animation system -- constantly remind the player that they are firmly grounded in every engagement they take. A swing of your sword is an act of will and its weight -- whether it be a claymore or a simple dagger -- can be felt via the rattled perspective of your character in first person view, or the counterbalance of his stance in third. Each effort to try and connect a blow results in the drainage of the player's constantly recharging emerald-shaded Stamina meter. While tapping the trigger to slice at your foe marginally affects your gauge; charging your swing by holding down attack hits the meter in a big way which then results in a bigger payoff if your enemy has the misfortune of being caught in the arc of your assault. A strike is a decisive and fulfilling victory every time you connect a blow in Skyrim.

Extending into archery, the hollow clinks and sliding shaft of an arrow lining up on your bow as you take aim get heightened again by Skyrim's constant and conscious effort to make every action you perform have weight behind it. Releasing the arrow from the tightly pulled twine of your bow snaps the wooden bolt away from your view at such a realistic and accurate trajectory that you'll be tempted to shoot the bark off trees just to go retrieve your arrow and do it again.

Rounding out your ability set is Magicka, which gets given an entire quadrant on the game's cardinal-based options screen. Setting flames to the environment scorches both terrain and objects indiscriminately as you go about your own "scorched earth policy." Your Magicka meter goes through the same time/strength/risk/reward mechanic as its green counterpart (Stamina); if each fist is armed with a spell, then expect the results to be doubled, but your use of Magicka to be halved. Much like combat, the reward for playing big in Skyrim has its drawbacks that permeate across its systems of design.