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Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a fantasy action role-playing game developed by Bethesda Game Studios. It’s the fifth installment in The Elder Scrolls computer game series, following the widely popular Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

Skyrim was released on 11/11/11 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. It’s still the #1 Best Seller in Xbox 360 Role-Playing Games and one of the most-wished-for games at Amazon.com over a year and a half after its release! Skyrim maintained its $50 price tag long after its release, too, unless you were lucky enough to catch it on sale somewhere. The fact that it maintained its value for so long shows how good a game it is.

Bethesda has announced that The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Legendary Edition for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC will be released on June 4th, 2013. The Legendary Edition will include the most up-to-date version of Skyrim as well as all of the DLC (downloadable content) that’s been released so far. The list price is set at $59.99. If you’ve been holding out on Skyrim, perhaps now is the time. Since the Legendary Edition is on its way, the standard version has finally dropped in price. So if you don’t need all the extra DLC, just get the original version at a lower cost.

Elder Scrolls V takes place two hundred years after Oblivion, on the planet Nirn, on the continent of Tamriel, in the province of Skyrim. Although the game is set on another planet, it has a medieval feel (armor, weapons, shields, magic, mythology, dragons, etc.). At the beginning of the game, you select one of several human, elven, or anthropomorphic cat and lizard characters – each of which has different natural abilities – and customize your character’s appearance. Skyrim’s main story revolves around your character’s efforts to defeat Alduin, a dragon that is prophesied to destroy the world.

Skyrim features the same nonlinear gameplay of the previous Elder Scrolls games, which is a large part of its appeal. You can explore the land at will and ignore or postpone the main quest and side quests indefinitely. In addition to scripted quests, certain ones are dynamically generated. There are some pretty cool cut scenes in the game, too. You will never get tired of exploring Skyrim because there are so many things to see and do, and no matter how many times you play, the experience will never be exactly the same.

You can journey through the open world of Skyrim in real time on foot or on horse; or to save time you can fast-travel to cities, towns, and other places on the map. While traveling, you will see a wide variety of wildlife along the way, including butterflies, rabbits, foxes, deer, and mammoths. But keep your trusted sword handy, because many of the wilderness creatures – like bears, wolves, trolls, and giant spiders – are immediately hostile. Dragons will also be encountered at random throughout Skyrim.

The scenery is pretty with diverse vegetation (grass, trees, flowers, berries, mushrooms, etc.) and terrain (mountains, rivers, waterfalls, marshes, a plateau, and ocean). You can climb the highest snowy mountain and venture into deep dark caves. (Beware: the caves usually have something bad in them.) The weather changes from sunny to rain and snow, and the time of day changes from day to night. At sunset the shadows get longer just like in real life, and at night you might see an aurora borealis.

You character can interact with non-player characters (NPCs) who may carry on conversations, request favors, offer training in skills, or become companions to aid in combat. A perpetual objective is to improve your character’s skills, of which there are eighteen. They are divided evenly between three schools: combat, magic, and stealth. Once you have trained long enough to acquire the necessary experience, your character is able to level-up in strength and abilities.

It’s fun to see all the different things you can do in Skyrim. Just like in real life, you can try to stay out of trouble or you can look for trouble. For example, you can run around town shouting and eventually one of the guards will tell you to stop. If you are so inclined, you can even play as a bad guy. There are organized groups of NPCs such as the Thieves Guild (a band of thieves), or the Dark Brotherhood (a band of assassins). Each of the factions has a headquarters, and they have their own quest paths which the player can progress through.

In the vanilla version of Skyrim, you can buy and sell stuff at various stores. You can rent a room at the inn, and once you have enough money you can buy a house in town. The Hearthfire DLC allows you to buy land, build houses, and adopt kids. Once you have a boy or girl, you can get a pet too. There are different options for your house. For instance, you can choose to make a trophy room or a greenhouse. You can also have an outside garden and a stable. Your house can get attacked by bandits or giants, and your basement can get infested by skeevers.

Random things happen throughout the game, and they don’t always make sense. Sometimes you will come across funny glitches like a mammoth falling out of the sky, or trees and rocks that weren’t placed properly so it looks like they’re floating. One time I was in the middle of fighting a dragon and a guy ran up to me, handed me an ax, asked me to hold onto it for him, then ran away. Soon after, seemingly oblivious to the dragon which was shooting fire at me, another guy came walking up and nonchalantly asked if I’d seen the first guy – apparently not noticing that I was a little busy at the moment!

Skyrim is good for people who like RPGs and adventure. In case you didn’t know, Skyrim is the source of the internet meme: “I used to be an adventurer like you, but then I took an arrow to the knee.” That’s pretty much everything I have to say about the game. —Dune Jumper

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