The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Review

The very first review of Bethesda's The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim comes to us from the Australian gaming magazine MPC Atomic. The four-page writeup gives the title 95%, with 97% (something for every style of play) for gameplay, 92% (the game's environments are amazing) for graphics and 95% (sounds so real that you'll flinch) for sound. The review focuses mostly on the character progression system and the open-world graphic design and gameplay, all of which the writer loved. It doesn't contain very much about quest design or the plot. Minor niggles cited are combat feeling a little hack and slash-like at the beginning and the AI being flawed.
[on the character system] It is a great system with a lot - it really gives an unprecedented level of control, letting you drill down and create a character who does what you want, how you want it. We tested a few different characters before settling on an Orc - a lean, green fighting machine. The initial concept was to create a battlemage style of character - someone adept with a sword, but also handy with magic. Skyrim's dual wielding style lets you cast with one hand and attack with the other (very BioShock 2 in its own way), so it seemed fairly naturaly. What we actually ended up with was a bookworm Orc who had a penchant for sneaking and smithing, dual-wielding fire spells with an axe. Heavy armor seemed the go [sic], thanks to our smithing obsession and we even spent a bit of time at the enchanting bench making the armour a little more magic friendly. Oh, and in the traditional of all good RPGs, he was incapable of saying no to any request. Need leeks and cabbages delivered? He's up for it. Group of werewolves hunters need battling? He's our Orc. Seriously, you think the guy could be a little more picky...

It's a wild wide world
The term 'open world' gets bandied around a lot in games these days, but when Bethesda say [sic] it, the company really means it. Skyrim is almost intimidatingly large, so be prepared to spend a lot of time walking around as you slowly unlock more and more of the continent. You can use carriage services to get yourself to some of the larger cities, from which you can explore on foot to open up more and more areas or you can even procure a horse (legally or otherwise), but walking proved most enjoyable thanks to Bethesda's amazing environments. The Creation Engine also allows for dynamic weather conditions that are, honestly, insanely impressive. Fighting a dragon halfway up a mountain is impressive enough, but it's even more amazing when it's in the middle of a massive blizzard that limits your visibility to barely a few feet.

And here are their closing paragraphs:
So, this has all been glowingly positive so far - was there anything wrong with Skyrim? The answer is not much: a few niggles here and there, but they often seemed to sort themselves out. Combat initially felt a little loose and '˜hack and slash-y' but after a while we found ourselves designing proper combat tactics for our style of play. The Al for NPCs, while pretty damn good, still suffers from the occasional circular conversation, with people repeating the same phrase over and over and other weirdness - having a guy you've just beat to a pulp with your fists beg you for mercy and then stand up and bizarrely say (Good to see you!) in a cheery tone was a little mood breaking. We were also mildly miffed at being arrested for accidently catching a townsman with one of our spells... in the middle of a fight with a bloody enormous dragon. Having guards race over to fine us rather than stopping and staring at the dragon corpse blocking the entrance to town made us wonder if it was time for them to check their priorities.

Ultimately, Skyrim is a lot like Fallout: New Vegas - there are some flaws but they pale into insignificance compared to the sheer scope of the game. Despite the many, many hours we put in, it felt like we'd barely scratched the surface at times, and our quest log was always full. It's a beautiful sprawling world that's incredibly fun to be in, and the gameplay lets you get the most out of it. This is a very successful game that will be much loved by the RPG fans out there - and for people who've never really got the whole role-playing thing before, Skyrim might well be a great place to start. It's a fantastic game on its own right, but also manages to be a very worthy addition to the Elder Scrolls family. A must-play.

Other than the grammatical errors spotted above, the review also notes "id software" was the developer of this title. This review was clearly rushed to meet a deadline, so take it for what it's worth.