A review of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Story by Ben Rueter

Thanksgiving break is coming up and that means you’ll get to go home, meet up with the family and share stories that start with relatives asking not-so-interesting questions like ‘How’s school going?’ But maybe you’re not going home or you hate your family and are looking to avoid their prying questions about graduation and why you are still single and stop with the questions, Grandma!

Hate your family or not, why not take some time away from the increasingly boring and deathly vista that is pre-winter-Wisconsin and spend it in Skyrim.

“The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” is the latest role-playing-game to come from Bethesda Studios (Fallout 3). “The Elder Scrolls” series is Bethesda’s marquee franchise and every entry into the series has become a strong contender for how you spend your free time, or time in general.

The first thing you’ll probably notice is visually this game is absolutely gorgeous. It’s something that will continue to impress you the more you play. Honestly, I haven’t done much of anything in the game yet having played it for about seven hours. I’m constantly getting side tracked on quests. Let me paint you a picture.

I’m walking down a cobble stone path when I see a ruined castle and the sun light just happens to be hitting it at the right angle so that it looks particularly majestic next to the sparkling river and the swaying tall grass beneath it. I go inside where some bandits have camped out and they are angry. I throw some magic fire balls and swing my axe around and minutes later the tower is clear. I loot their dead bodies — it’s all very regular of what to expect in an RPG. But once I get to the top of the ruined castle tower, I make it just in time to see the sun set behind the snow riddled mountains. Sun beams barely passing between peaks creates a stunning visual.

Moments like this are why I continue to sink time into this game. The eye candy hasn’t gotten dull yet to the point where I am seeing repeated graphic textures. The world still feels fresh and lived in, like Skyrim has existed for hundreds of years before I set foot in it, and it will continue to exist once I finish the game.

Variety is one of the things that makes “Skyrim” feel so approachable, too. The freedom Bethesda gives you to create a character that best represents your play-style comes naturally. You don’t choose to become a mage or warrior at the beginning of the game. The hope is that once you finish the game you’ll find yourself as a powerful mage or warrior or both.

The game allows you to experiment with how you want to play. At the moment, I’m in between a mage and a warrior and the game is rewarding me for branching out and exploring other styles of playing. I started out wanting to be the manliest of men, with heavy armor carrying a steel battle axe into battle. Then I decided to try out magic for a bit. My battle axe is gone now and I’m throwing fire with one hand and sword swinging with the other.

It will be awhile before I finish “Skyrim,” but I’m already hooked. The vastness and the attention to detail in the world is not like anything I’ve seen this year.

It’s an environment I look forward to spending more time in and more time exploring my character’s abilities and interacting with those who inhabit Skyrim.