the artistry and psychology of gaming


Skyrim: First Impression

Skyrim: First Impression

Well, this is not a full review of Skyrim- yet. That review will be posted a week from now as I played the game much more. This is a an account of my first impression, just as the first time that you meet that one special someone.I have only advanced a little into the game and yet I feel I have played a lot- I have played as many hours as some short games. I finished Modern Warfare 3 at this length of time and I feel I haven’t even begun Skyrim. Because as the wise reviewer of GameSpy puts it Skyrim is more than a game. When you buy a game like Skyrim you’re choosing a new lifestyle, as if you’ve married. It’ll sink your hours in like a part-time job, it’ll hook you up like an addictive drug, and it will make your life sweeter like a new lovely girlfriend. It’s more than a game, or maybe, it’s the culmination of what a video game can be.

I bought the game on Sunday. I have already played 14 hours (9 hours on Sunday, 5 hours on Monday). I first designed my character. Since the game takes place in the northern region of Tamriel, the best thematic choice would be a Nord. In Oblivion and Morrowind I was an Orc, since fighting with sword and relying on my strength and blade powers, but Nords are also powerful enough sword-fighters so I will go with a Nord. I chose her to be a woman, because women are hotter. Then I gave her a powerful authoritative face, cute blond hair and a kick-ass brown face tattoo. And there she was, my hero.

There she is!

Now, after a few early storyline scenes which seem to be inevitable, I completely ignored the main plot. I’ve spent most of my time wandering around aimlessly killing animals and bandits (who look like raiders from Fallout) and discovering new places and finishing minor missions. When I decided I’m badass enough I started a secondary story line. I joined a group called the Companions, which I thought were a mere substitute for fighters guild in the other games. Turns out it’s a lot more than that. I understood that when I became a werewolf. Yes, I’m a werewolf now. Which is really fun now. I don’t know if I’ll be cured or remain one to the end but it’s definitely something I recommend. As for the good old (retarded) Twilight debate since I already am a werewolf, I can never become a vampire. But being a vampire is a lot of problem in all TES games anyway. I still haven’t finished this storyline.

Then I discovered the part which was my favorite back in Oblivion days: the Dark Brotherhood. I joined them and the plot seems to be really interesting and exciting.

Also, I’m level 9 now. I have spent my perks mostly on One Handed, Block and Smithing and I’m already a pretty fearsome swords-master.

Team Jacob then, I guess?

What makes Skyrim so fun, so great, and so enjoyable? There are two things. First is the universe it creates and lets you live your fantasy adventure, and second, it’s how seamlessly the game is accessible and fun and yet tactical and in-depth.

Firstly, and this is something it shares with Deus Ex, this game really lets you play it the way you intend. It’s not as evident as Deus Ex, because the stealthy way doesn’t really work as you must fight at times. But how you fight? How do you like to fight? And what do you want to be strong in? The game is completely open-ended in that regards. The new two-hand system also lets you mix any two weapons or spells or both with each other, and you find yourself experimenting with more and more ways to fight, never getting bored. Do you like swords, spells, or archery? Would you like to attack or block? Your character is your handiwork, and you can shape her in anyway you like. This is going to be YOUR heroic journey. Of course, this feature exists in many games (all the good RPG games) and it’s the second merit which makes this game a miracle of game design.

Most games are either action and non-tactical or non-action and tactical. You’re either mashing buttons (albeit in a combo frenzy) or you’re playing chess (only more complicated). Each style has its merits and weaknesses. Action makes the game exciting, breathless, and makes you feel powerful and badass. But it’s also thoughtless and brutish. Tactic, on the other hand, makes you think and contemplate and design a strategy, while it might also be hard and less exciting. Now, can a game have both? Can it be action and tactical? Yes, Skyrim! Just like Oblivi0n and Fallout 3 before it, Bethesda has managed to create a style which captures both merits.

To me, Oblivion was the game with the perfect gameplay, the game with the best gameplay of all time. Now I’m happy to announce that Skyrim has surpassed it, and it’s even better. Wait for my full review next week.

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