Walking Dead Review

9 / 10 Banzai!s

The Game:

Zombie mania is here. And to celebrate, Telltale Games has created The Walking Dead, a game inspired by Robert Kirkman’s comic book series of the same name – which in turn has also been turned in an AMC TV show. In a nutshell, The Walking Dead game is a point-and-click adventure, like many other Telltale titles such as Back to the Future and the CSI series. But that’s in a nutshell, mind you. The Walking Dead is actually far more than just that.

Reminiscent of Quantic Dream’s Heavy Rain, players perform actions and make choices along the way, which alter events along the storyline as well as your interaction with other characters. Unlike X-Men: Destiny, these choices matter. Save one character and not the other, and continue the story with one of the characters dead. Disagree with someone, and that person will refuse to help you later on.

As stated earlier, the game is “inspired” by the comic book, existing in the same zombie-infested world, but with a new cast and story (though a few characters familiar to the comic make some cameos). You play as Lee Everett, a convicted felon riding in the back of a squad car on his way to prison, when the zombie outbreak begins. After surviving a car accident, he makes it to the nearest town – and is shocked to see undead walkers roaming the streets in search of human flesh. He meets a young girl named Clementine who’s been hiding up in her treehouse, and the two become a team as they search for safety, food, form a group of friends, and attempt to survive in this apocalyptic world.

Much of the game involves problem-solving. Explore a given area, find the tools you need, and figure out how to use them in order to reach your goal. Along the way, you’ll be settling arguments by choosing (under a time limit of a few seconds) how to respond to members in your group, making friends by finding and handing out food, making enemies by not giving them food, and of course battling the occasional zombie in a quick mini-game.

The Walking Dead video game was released in a series of episodes, five in total, beginning in April of 2012. In July 2013, Telltale released a bonus story titled 400 Days as an added DLC. Despite being criticized for glitches and receiving only moderately positive reviews, The Walking Dead video game received numerous Game Of The Year awards from a number of newspapers and magazines, including USA Today, E!, GamesRadar, and Best Downloadable Game at the 2012 Spike Video Game Awards.

 

What I Liked:

Obviously there’s a lot I liked about this game, to warrant 9 Banzai!s out of 10. The game strongly focuses on the story, and the story is the best part of the game. It’s as fascinating and suspenseful as the TV show based on the comic, with its own brand of colorful characters. The overall game has its own metaplot, but each Episode explores a specific aspect with its own plot and goal. Much like the comics, The Walking Dead video game begins with the focus on the zombies themselves. But soon, the players will face an even more dangerous adversary: other human beings.

Walking Dead ReviewThe gameplay is well balanced between scenes in which you’re attempting to solve a puzzle, scenes that bring out the suspense and horror, and scenes which allow you to take a break. But unlike reading the comic or watching the show, The Walking Dead video game is, of course, interactive – which further adds to the interest of the story. Like Heavy Rain, you’re forced to make choices which not only alters the storyline of the Episode, but the overall game. Continue siding with Larry and not Kenny, then don’t expect Kenny’s help in the future. Chose to sacrifice Carley and save Dog, then Carley is no longer in the story.

The puzzles themselves are far easier than other Telltale games, simply because they have logical answers which feel natural if you were literally in the same situation as your player character. Need to sneak into a building? Then quietly kill the zombies nearby. How do you kill it? With a screwdriver. Where do you find a screwdriver? In a toolbox. Where’s the toolbox? Near the construction area. This logical style of problem-solving adds to the realism of the story, as opposed to the more cartoonish Back to the Future where you need to find a character across town by having the dog Einstein sniff a pair of shoes (possible, but perhaps only in a cartoon).

In The Walking Dead video game, things will jump out and startle you. Things will shock and even disgust you. You’ll feel the clock ticking when you’re trying to save a character’s life. And you’ll feel sad when they die. Yes, it’s no spoiler than many people will die. Those of you familiar with the comics and TV show know best that, just because a character’s been with the story for a long time, doesn’t mean they won’t perish. You just never know who will be the next food for the zombies – and sometimes, it will be the result of your decisions.

 

What I Didn’t Like:

Bugs and glitches. It has been the strongest complaint by most online reviewers, and yes, I had a problem with the glitches as well. The game never froze one me, but there are hiccups throughout – even in the DLC – which interrupt the flow of the game.

The problem, I think, is that the game seems to be loading the next scene and saving at the same time, as I noticed this is when the glitches usually occur. You solve a puzzle, then there’s a cut-scene. Then the cut-scene freezes for a few seconds, but the game is still going. Best case scenario, the picture fast-forwards to catch up with your position in the game. Worst case, is there was a quick decision to make but you missed your window.

Walking Dead ReviewMost of the time, these glitches didn’t impair the gameplay. But they stand out simply because the rest of the game is so good! If these bugs were in Duke Nukem Forever, I probably wouldn’t care. But it’s like a CD skipping while you’re listening to a really good song.

 

Overall:

Despite the glitches, The Walking Dead is an exciting and fascinating game which proves that an engaging story is often necessary to make a great game. (I’m looking at you, Final Fantasy XIII) The action may not be as intense as Call of Duty, the graphics as impressive as Devil May Cry, but the story and characters are so interesting, the gameplay so interactive, that The Walking Dead video game goes beyond being a simple video game and steps into the boundaries of artform.

For trophy hunters out there, you’ll be happy to know that the platinum for this game is quite easy to obtain. Every trophy is story related, which means once you’ve completed the game, you’ve got your Platinum.

Overall, fans of the comic and TV show will not be disappointed. And anyone new to the series will be in for a treat.

Just don’t play it with the kiddies around.

 

written by Damon Finos

Final Fantasy XIII Review

6 / 10 Banzai!s

The Game:

On December 17th 2009, the most highly-anticipated game hit the stores in Japan: Final Fantasy XIII, the first in the series available on the PlayStation 3! (yes, it’s on Xbox 360, but no one in Japan owns one of those strange white boxes). Lines formed that day (and the night before) in various game and electronic shops. Final Fantasy XIII broke all kinds of selling records. The Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu awarded it a nearly perfect 39/40, while overseas, IGN gave it an 8.9/10, and Eurogamerawarded it an 8/10. Wow.

So why is my Banzai! score a mere 6? Well, according to Webster’s dictionary, “denial” is “a refusal to admit the truth or reality.” For more information, check out the What I Didn’t Like portion of this review.

The story, as best as I can describe it, takes place in Gran Pulse, which is made up of two worlds – an artificial sphere called Cocoon, and the planet it floats above, called Pulse. The people who live in various towns on Cocoon are being “purged” because they came in contact with something from Pulse. Our main characters, Lightening, Snow, Sazh, Vanille, and Hope, are riding a “purge train” off to be “purged,” when they break free and head off to rescue Lightening’s sister, Serah. During the course of the game, players will watch flashbacks to events occurring before the “purge train,” while the characters worry about tattoos appearing on their arms, risk being turned into crystals, and try to save Cocoon from its destruction, all the while battling the final boss four or five times, which resembles an evil pope that can transform into a tank with a huge head.

Make sense? If not, please refer to the What I Didn’t Like portion of this review.

 

What I Liked:

The graphics in this game are some of the most beautiful and inspiring I’ve seen in any video game thus far. Square Enix poured 80% of their manpower and a lot of money into this game, and you can see their efforts visually. From the character designs, to the worlds themselves, to the way Lightening’s hair billows over her face and the rendered material of her clothing, to the shadows as something flies overhead and, of course, the theatrical cut-scenes; everything is just top-notch. Squaresoft has managed to fascinate us with their beautiful visuals with Final Fantasy VII on the PlayStation One, and again with Final Fantasy X on the PlayStation 2Final Fantasy XIII is no exception, and while I have issues with this game, I have absolutely nothing bad to say about the graphics.

Final Fantasy XIII ReviewAnd what’s really impressive is that, despite these incredibly well-rendered and detailed visuals, they don’t slow down the game – there’s almost zero loading time! Moreover, Final Fantasy XIII doesn’t even download any cookies onto your system. when I first started Fallout: New Vegas, I had to download 3.5 GB worth of data onto my PlayStation 3, the game froze nearly once every hour, and the graphics weren’t even that impressive. So what’s Square Enix’s secret?

As you’re playing in one stage, the game is already starting to load the next one ready. This eliminates both the need for a long loading time, and the requirement of downloading anything onto your system. Hopefully, we’ll see more of this technique in future games.

 

What I Didn’t Like:

Okay, here we go.

My main issue with Final Fantasy XIII is with the story itself. It was too complicated, thrown in with unnecessary flashbacks just to complicate it further, then the story splits in three different directions, all the while I’m trying to figure out what’s going on. What the hell does being “purged” mean? Are people being taken to concentration camps? Are they turned into crystals? Why? What is this “interaction with Pulse?” What’s the difference between a ‘fal Cie and a l’Cie? Do I care? About halfway through the game, I lost interest. Instead, I just sat back and enjoyed the visuals, then moved my characters around like someone playing chess who doesn’t understand the rules of the game.

Then there’s the characters. Lightening is, for lack of a better word, a cold-hearted bitch. She warms up during the game, and I suppose she’s meant to be one of those “hearts of gold wrapped in a hard shell which needs to be cracked” types, but by the time that started to happen, I stopped caring. Then there’s Hope, who for half the game, is a spineless, whimpering wuss. And Vanille, the typical Lolita-like character in many Japanese games, who’s genki and cute while behaving like a total retard. I’ll give cudos to Square Enix for putting in some character development, which you often see in movies and novels, but not so much in video games. But unfortunately, all the characters either started off as unlikeable or boring, and so couldn’t bring myself to care if any of these people changed during the course of the game.

Final Fantasy XIII ReviewThe third issue I had was the level-up system. There isn’t any. Final Fantasy XIII, like all its predecessors, is described as an RPG, and in RPGs, usually you can level-up your character. Instead, they place “caps” on your level during each stage. There’s no farming involved, because you’ll have maximized your character’s level way before you’re allowed to proceed to the next one. By the end of the game, your cap will be as high as Level 5. That’s it. Can you think of a single RPG where the level cap is 5? I can: Final Fantasy XIII.

The man behind this game is Motomu Toriyama, whose directing credits include only Final Fantasy X-2. I’m guessing he was so proud of this story he’d created, that through linear gameplay and the limited leveling-up, players are forced to focus on this complicated mish-mash. Also, it’s worth noting that Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of the original Final Fantasy and responsible for most of the great titles in the series, had nothing to do with Final Fantasy XIII.

 

Overall:

Final Fantasy XIII is an achievement in gaming history for some of the greatest visuals ever seen in a video game – and that’s it. The story is so complicated, with an overuse of made-up names and words, and filled with boring or unlikeable characters, that I stopped caring half-way through the game. I played it just to finish it, with the small hope that everything would make sense towards the end.

And it didn’t.

Worth checking out if you’re a fan of the series, and just to see some beautiful computer graphics. The English version is very well translated and voice acted, particularly compared to some of its predecessors. But to be brutally honest, I had more fun playing through Duke Nukem Forever. And if anyone out there can explain the story to me, please give it a shot.

 

written by Damon Finos

Uncharted 3 Review

10 / 10 Banzai!s

The Game:

After the commercial and critical success of the 2009 sequel in the Uncharted series, comes the next highly anticipated installment. Developed by the good people of Naughty Dog and released in November of 2011, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception yet again earned an explosion of praise from every gaming magazine and broke all kinds of selling records worldwide. Even Harrison Ford, in a Japanese commercial, stated the game was “sugee!” (awesome!)

Taking place about four years after the first Uncharted game, Nathan Drake, along with his companions Victor “Sully” Sullivan, Elena Fisher, Chloe Frazer – and a new member, Charlie Cutter – are picking up the trail after Francis Drake and T.E. Lawrence, in search of the Iram of the Pillars – the legendary “Atlantis of the Sands.” Their adventure takes them to England, France, Syria, and even Columbia during flashbacks which reveal some of Drake’s past, including how he and Sully first hooked up. Their enemy? Well, there’s pirates, of course. But also Katherine Marlow, a powerful woman with a private army of dudes in suits, bent on uncovering the wealth of Iram of the Pillars for her secret organization.

Uncharted 3 ReviewLike its predecessor, the game also includes various modes of online play, both competitive and co-op, where players can customize their skins and abilitiy boosters as they cliimb the ranks, and earn extra trophies not necessary for the platinum.

 

What I Liked:

Given that I’ve awarded this game a perfect 10 out of 10, this portion of the review could go on for several pages. But overall, I’d just like to say that Uncharted 3 outdid its previous titles in every way. The story is more mysterious, the scenes are more exciting, and even the characters take on a form of development – not often seen in a video game. What’s also nice about the Uncharted series in general, is that you don’t need to play the previous games to understand what’s happening – unlike, say, the Resident Evil series. If you desire to skip the previous two games and dive straight into Uncharted 3, go right ahead. Other than missing a few character introductions, the story won’t be inhibited in any way.

What I liked most about Uncharted 3 is that it’s never boring. Each chapter takes on a dynamic of its own, with environments constantly changing and providing a constant freshness every twenty minutes (or however long it takes you to reach the next chapter). In one scene you’re investigating a secret chamber, next you’re escaping from a burning building, then you’re shooting your way through a jungle, then solving a puzzle inside an ancient temple, then swimming through a storm while firing at pirates. But the game never feels fragmented – instead, all these scenes blend together under the arch of the story seamlessly.

My favourite was during a later chapter, after Drake managed to smuggle himself on board a cruise ship stolen by pirates. In the first scene, you’re on deck fighting your way to the entrance, while the storm sends waves crashing over everything, tossing crates about and forcing you to reposition your cover from enemy fire – while the ship itself is rocking through the waves. Then, when you’re inside and the ship flips on its side, slowly sinking, you’re desperately running through hallways – where the walls have become the floor – climbing up boookshelves and beds while avoiding falling debris – all under the time limit of water rising to pull you into an ocean grave. Exciting stuff!

Uncharted 3 ReviewIn my opinion, when it comes to graphics, it’s not just about looking pretty in HD – but the details put into the scenes. During the flashback chapter in which Drake is tailing Sullivan in the streets of Cartagena, Columbia, everything looks so alive and real. The streets are crowded with merchants, sellers, people having conversations – each of them wearing distinct outfits. No two people look the same – and that’s the first time I’ve witnessed such detail in a video game. I dare to say it: the graphics in Uncharted 3 are even more impressive than Final Fantasy XIII! (There, I said it.)

 

What I Didn’t Like:

I thought hard on this – even played the game 3 times, now – but still can’t find a single fault in Uncharted 3. Never came across any bugs, no game freezes, nothing I would have changed if I’d been one of the developers. If any title ever comes close to being a perfect game, this would be it.

 

Overall:

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is a fun, exciting game which never leaves a dull moment. Fans of the previous Uncharted games will be blown away by this installment. And if you simply want to jump into this game without the background of its predecessors, no problem. Like the Indiana Jones or James Bond films, the Uncharted games can be individually appreciated.

It may not be a game for everyone, such as those partial to only sports games or first-person shooters, but even those individuals couldn’t possibly play through Uncharted 3 and just think it was “okay.” And if you’re a trophy hunter, you’ll be happy to know that the online trophies are separate from those offline that are required for the Platinum.

 

If there’s one title to add to your PlayStation 3 collection, I highly recommend Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception.

 

written by Damon Finos

Final Fantasy XIII Trophy Guide

Final Fantasy XIII Trophy Guide. Difficulty: ***  A sci-fi fantasy RPG that takes players to the artificial world of Cocoon and the more natural Grand Pulse. Not a difficult Platinum, but extremely time-consuming and could take over 100 hours.

Game Name Difficulty Trophies Developer Country Bronze Silver Gold Online DLC
Final Fantasy XIII *** 36 Square Enix Japan 21 9 5 0 0

Final Fantasy XIII

The first Final Fantasy title to be released for the PlayStation 3, Final Fantasy XIII is a sci-fi fantasy RPG, in which players take the role of a party of characters, and use a combination of weapons, equipment and strategies to defeat their enemies.

The story begins in Cocoon, an artificial sphere which hovers above another world - Grand Pulse. Several people - including the main characters - are being purged for having been "contaminated" by coming into contact with Pulse, before they can escape.

Final Fantasy XIII received a wide mix of reviews from excellent to poor, with an average score of 74%. The graphics were praised by almost everyone, but others complained of the linear storyline and lack of exploration, familiar in previous FF games.

For more information, check out our Final Fantasy XIII Review.

Most trophies are quite doable with a fair amount of effort, but Treasure Hunter will require hours and hours and hours of mindless farming.

Completing the story itself will only take up 20% of your time on this game, another 10% to finish the Hunts, and the remaining 70% will be dedicated to battling Adamantortoises and Adamanchelids for Gil, so that you can upgrade all your weapons and all your accessories, in order to obtain this one, single trophy. By using the techniques and guides we linked for you, the Platinum for Final Fantasy XIII doesn't require much skill. However, you'll be looking at anywhere between 100 to 200 hours of game-playing.

As you move through the story, don't bother spending too much time farming for XP, as there'll be plenty of time for that after you've beaten the game and can warp back to Chapter 11. However, always be on the lookout for Treasure Chests to find weapons and accessories you'll need for the Treasure Hunter trophy. Particularly, the Elemental Rings which are rare (note: the Aqua Ring, which many people tend to miss, is found in Chapter 6 - keep an eye out for it!) If you complete the story but missed one of these Elemental Rings, there's still one last chance to acquire it, which is explained in a link below.

Note: We highly recommend you do not sell any of your weapons or accessories, even if it appears you have extras of the same item. The small amount of Gil you'll receive isn't worth the chance of making a mistake, and missing your chance for the Treasure Hunter trophy. Safe items to sell for Gil are: Incentive Chips, Credit Chips, Gold Dust, and Platinum Ingots.

Also, as you work through the story, make sure you're using Libra whenever possible to scan different enemies and learn their full attributes, in order to claim the Loremaster trophy. If you start doing this from early in the game, you should acquire the trophy several chapters before the final boss.

Once you've beaten the story, you'll have the opportunity to warp back to Chapter 11, where the remaining trophies are waiting to be collected. This includes farming to max out the levels of your characters and collecting Gil to purchase upgrades for weapons and accessories, working through the Hunts, and finding treasures using a Chocobo.

Chocobos are unlocked after completing Hunt #14. Try to clear this mission early, not only so you can gain the Gysahl Wreath trophy, but it will make life easier racing around the map quickly by riding these creatures.

The Gold Watch, which is rewarded after completing Hunt #64, slows down the battle time, improving your chances at getting 5-star rankings. This will come in handy when trying to obtain the L'Cie Paragon trophy, so collect it as soon as you're strong enough for the hunt - it will save time in having to replay previous Hunts to obtain a 5-star ranking.

The Growth Egg, awarded after completing Hunt #55, doubles the amount of CP gained in battle. However, you will be doing so much farming to collect Gil, that you'll have the Master's Seal trophy long before you've upgraded all your weapons and accessories. In which case, we don't recommend you go out of your way for this one.

As a strategy, we advise that once you've collected the Gold Watch, start working your way through each and every Hunt, making sure you gain a 5-star ranking for every one before moving onto the next. If you're still having trouble even with the Gold Watch, try using lower-ranked weapons to reduce the difficulty, Fortisol to improve haste, and Deceptisol to quickly stagger the enemy. Do every mission possible, except for Hunt #62! Let's save this one for later.

Next, start farming for Gil. You will need 6 Trapezohedrons (costing 2,000,000 gil) and 5 Dark Matters (costing 850,000 gil) in addition to several other cheaper catalysts, plus purchasing Sturdy Bones (36 will give you the x3 bonus) and Ultracompact Reactors for basic upgrading. If you head to the Northern part of the Archylte Steppe, between the Northern Highplain and Eastern Tors, you will find a narrow space which runs behind a small mountain, where Hunt #63 was found. There, waits 2 Adamantortoises and 3 Adamanchelids conveniently placed near a save station. Simply kill the 5 monsters, save your game, then quit and reload for the creatures to respawn.

Note: Upgrade Fang's Dragoon Lance, Shamanic Spear, Punisher, Pandoran Spear, or a Gae Bolg to a 100 maxed Kain's Lance, then dismantle the weapon, and you will receive 3 Trapezohedrons. This trick also works with Vanille's Tigerclaw, Healer's Staff, Belladonna Wand, or Mistilteinn at a 100 maxed Nirvana weapon. Dismantling a fully maxed Genji Glove will also give you 1 Trapezohedrons. However, there are only 3 Genji Gloves in the game, and we recommend you keep 2 for your battle with the Long Gui. Once you've gotten all the necessary upgrades, head to Bhakti in Oerba to collect your trophy.

Note: While you must upgrade every weapon by at least one tier, you only need 1 ultimate weapon for each of the six team members. Example: Just 1 Nirvana for Vanille, 1 Omega Weapon for Lightening, etc. Now that you have the Treasure Hunter trophy, you're less than an hour away from claiming the Platinum!

All that is left, if you've been following this strategy, is to complete Hunt #62, and battle a Long Gui. We have linked a Youtube video for each battle, displaying the weapons and accessories used in each, which we've found very helpful. It is now safe to sell the weapons and accessories you won't need for the final two battles, in order to make sure all items you need are fully upgraded. We recommend upgrading and keeping: 2 Genji Gloves, 9 Witch's Bracelets, a Wierding Glyph, 2 Sorcer's marks, a Ribbon (or Super Ribbon), a Royal Armlet, a Rainbow Anklet, an Imperial Armlet, a Platinum Bangle (or Wurtzite Bangle), a Clay Ring, and 2 Warrior's Wristbands. For weapons, simply use your ultimate weapons for Fang, Vanille and Lightening. Start with Hunt#62, and follow the guide in the linked Youtube video. Once that's completed, you'll have to save, then exit and reload the game. When you return, all the Adamantortoises will have turned into Long Guis. Again, follow the Youtube video's suggestion (we recommend the 2nd tactic), and you're done!

Congratulations! You've just earned which is probably the most grinding Platinum ever!

For a simple Walkthrough to help locate all the treasure chests, we recommend IGN:
http://guides.ign.com/guides/826843/page_3.html

Here is a map for all Chocobo Treasure Locations:
http://www.gamefaqs.com/ps3/928790-final-fantasy-xiii/faqs/58966

This is a full guide of all the Hunts, including their locations:
http://twobrothersandasister.com/?p=6455

DaveyHasselhoff has put together an excellent Trophy Guide, which includes a checklist for all weapon and accessory upgrades:
http://www.ps3trophies.com/forums/trophy-guides/20108-final-fantasy-xiii-trophy-guide.html

And if you don't feel like writing down all those weapons and accessories, we've even included a link to a downloadable and printable Checklist in TextDocument format, provided by OZ2555:
http://www.mediafire.com/?kzweyztw4go

When you're ready to handle the most difficult Hunt #62, we found this strategy the easiest, provided by MasterLL:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5ktoPhrPMM

The 2nd strategy of this Youtube video provided by GameXplain should help you easily take down the Long Gui. Also, it helps if you keep an Elixir in your inventory should your battle not go as exactly planned.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMY6lwyQ3fM&feature=fvst

If you missed any of the Elemental Rings during your playthrough of the story, here is a trick which explains how to turn charms into the desired ring:
http://www.gamespot.com/ps3/rpg/finalfantasy13/show_msgs.php?topic_id=m-1-53881835&pid=928790

And finally, here is a simple Trophy List to browse through:
http://www.ps3-sense.nl/2009/12/trophies-final-fantasy-xiii/

Elder Scrolls V Skyrim Review

10/10 Banzai!s

The Game:

Skyrim continues the Elder Scrolls series with their latest open-world, action RPG title released almost worldwide in November and December in 2011. The game was highly anticipated, an instant hit upon release, and is famed for being the very first non-Japanese game to receive a perfect 40/40 by Famitsu magazine. Wow.

The style of gameplay hasn’t changed much from Oblivion (the only other Elder Scrolls game I’ve played) with the player’s choice of first or third-person view, swinging your sword or blasting fireballs at your targets while exploring the land of Skyrim and picking-up quests along the way. There are a few alterations, which I’ll discuss in the “What I Liked” portion of this review (and that’s a good sign, right?)

Reminiscent of the previous installment, your character begins as a prisoner, tied and bound, being carried to a small town to await the execution for a crime you – the player – aren’t aware of. Just as your head’s about to be disconnected from your body with the assistance of a giant ax, a dragon swoops down and belches fire over everything. You manage to escape, and follow a new comrade to safety.

From there, you’re free to do as you please.

The main quest centres around the dragons that have mysteriously returned to Skyrim – and the strange connection your character has with them. Each time you slay one of these beasts, a whirlwind of power explodes around you, and the dragon’s soul is absorbed. What’s up with that? Well, you have many hours of game-playing to figure it out.

Elder Scrolls V Skyrim Review

Aside from the main quest, you’ve also got the usual guilds to have fun with – the Thieves Guild, the Dark Brotherhood, and the Mage’s Guild. There’s also the Champions, who are an elite group of, well, champions who reside in the city of Whiterun. And of course, what fantasy world would be complete without a civil war? You have the choice of siding with the Stormcloaks for the Imperial Army, vanquishing the opposite group of which you’ve chosen, and either putting a new king on the throne or keeping the old one.

There’s a lot to do, here. The main quest, side quests, mini side quests, and super mini side quests, as well as farming to improve your skills, exploring the vast number of caves and dungeons, and searching for Words of Power to add to your arsenal for kicking-butt. And if you simply feel like reading a book, Skyrim has plenty of those, too.

 

What I Liked:

It’s hard to be specific here, since I gave the game a perfect 10. Bethesda Game Studios has a great system of free-play as an action RPG, allowing you to select either a post-apocalyptic genre (Fallout) or high fantasy (Elder Scrolls). They put an incredible amount of detail into their games, which are loaded with backstory and even books which you can pick off the shelves and read. It’s a system that works, and as long as they don’t screw it up, I see no reason to award such games with high ratings. In the case of Skyrim, they didn’t screw it up.

The level-up system has changed to a simpler, but better system. As in Oblivion, you don’t gain experience points in the normal sense, but from using your skills. If you’re constantly being attacked while wearing light armor, then your light armor skill levels up. If you’re always flinging arrows at your targets, then your archery skills levels up. Once enough of these skills have increased, then your overall level is ready to rise. There, you have the option of improving your Magica, Health, or Stamina. Afterwards, you can add a “park” to one of your skills, much in the style of Fallout 3. Personally, I prefer this sytem more than that of Oblivion.

They’ve also tossed out the whole repairing-your-armor-and-weapons thing, as Bethesda felt this only slowed down the gameplay – which I agree. In Skyrim, if you pick up a sword or piece of armor, its quality never degrades through constant use. Maybe it’s unrealistic, but there’s plenty of micro-managing throughout the game that you don’t need to worry about the condition of your weapons. That’s a big plus.

The graphics’ quality is a big improvement from Oblivion. Rivers and waterfalls seem alive, rather than flat digital surfaces that have been rendered to appear as though moving. Trees and rocks appear better rendered, wind blows snow about, and the sky lights up at twilight, revealing the two majestic moons in the sky. It may not be Final Fantasy XIII quality, but it’s probably, thus far, better than any Bethesda game.

 

What I Didn’t Like:

Now, I’ve given this game a perfect score of 10 Banzai!s. So while there are still a few complaints here, consider this merely nitpicking. Afterall, no game out there is perfect – regardless of the rating. To me, a perfect 10 means it’s one of the best games I’ve ever played. And Skyrim is one of the best games I’ve ever played. It’s not perfect, but I don’t believe in perfection. To me, it just doesn’t exist. So with that in mind, on with the nitpicking!

Elder Scrolls V Skyrim Review

First, let’s talk about the bugs – and yes, there are bugs. What would a Bethesda game be without game freezes? But to be fair, playing this on the PlayStation 3, I didn’t experience too many problems. I logged in well over 100 hours into the game, playing all its quests and side-quests from start to finish. In those 100 hours, the game froze on me 6 times. That’s not too bad, especially compared with, say, Fallout: New Vegas.

The world of Skyrim is much smaller than Cyrodiil, and perhaps to make up for it, Bethesda threw in a bunch of mountains to add some struggle to your destination. And boy, do I hate mountains – even more than broccoli! Either you end up having to run around the damn thing looking for a path, or you attempt climbing by continuously hitting the jump button while wiggling the movement controls left and right. Less mountains and more land would have been nice.

Also, I found the map more difficult to navigate than in Oblivion. Everything’s basically black and white, but three-dimensional. The arrow which points in your destination is white, which basically means it’s hard to see. And if it’s hiding below the faded legend at the bottom of the screen, you can barely see it at all. It’s a simple thing, but coloring the arrow in blue, red, or tickled pink would have vastly improved the map.

 

Overall:

If you’re a fan of either the previous Elder Scrolls games, or even the Fallout series, then you won’t want to miss Skyrim. The story is just as good as Oblivion, with fun and interesting side-quests and Guilds to work through (I personally recommend the Dark Brotherhood – great story!). There’s plenty to do in this game, as much micro-managing as you like, and will provide hours and hours of gameplay, making you feel you’ve gotten your money’s worth.

It may not be perfect, but 10 Banzai!s means it’s one of the best titles I’ve played thus far.

written by Damon Finos