|System: PC, PS3, Xbox 360|
|Dev: Bethesda Games Studios|
|Pub: Bethesda Games Studios|
|Release: November 11, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol|
However, the combat hasn't really gotten any more visceral or kinetic—you'll still feel like you're awkwardly timing button presses rather than tactically administering harsh punishment. It's still a matter of figuring out what combination of blows, magic spells, power hits, strafing, dodging, and blocking is the best way to kill off a certain enemy. And there are still very few memorable boss fights; the dragons are powerful and visually impressive, but even they don't require very much strategy or pattern memorization. When the game throws a foe at you who's a little too much to handle—which it does from time to time, despite scaling to level—you might resort to dropping the difficulty or abusing the quicksave feature.
There are other beneficial tweaks as well. Weapons and armor no longer degrade, which eliminates one of the more pointlessly fiddly elements of Oblivion. Merchants run out of money, which is more realistic but also more frustrating than the previous system. The lock picking has been replaced by the system from Fallout 3; you rotate a pick in the lock and try to force it rather than hitting tumblers and timing a button press. You can now end a conversation whenever you want, instead of navigating through the menu until the end.
The controls work quite well on PC—the Favorites system in particular allows you to do exactly what you want, when you want to do it. My only real complaint is that sometimes, clicking just off to the side of a menu item can close a conversation. And the sound is up to the series' standards—you'll hear lots of familiar music and noises, with some new material thrown in, and the voice acting is a definite step up from Oblivion.
Basically, if you're even slightly interested in RPGs, Skyrim is a must-buy. More than any game before it, it manages to be exactly what you want it to be—it can be a tight and well-told story, an epic and wandering adventure, a hack-and-slash, a first-person brawler, a magical quest, or, most likely, a customized blend of all that. No matter how you play, it will consume your gaming hours for weeks at a time. The process of exploring the world, improving your character, killing dragons, and raiding dungeons has never been so expansive, or so addictive. There's no way to tell whether Skyrim will look better in 2016 than Oblivion does today, but right here in 2011, it's one of the best video games in existence.
CCC Contributing Writer