Monday, November 14, 2011

FoldsFive, Dragonslayer

"Oh shit. Oh shit. Oh shit."
Verily (and other such olde world phrases), gather ye round and hear my tale of adventures great, derring-do and derring-don’t. I am David K’ort, Thane of Jak’Danlz, only heir to Dread Lord Bernard, High King of Khrr’lsberg and scourge of Belgium, and this is my story. Enjoy your ale responsibly but remember it’s a sipping beer and not designed for quaffing.

Skyrim may sound on the surface like a very specific sexual act carried out by members of the mile high club, but is in fact the sequel to the RPG Elder Scrolls: Oblivion (which is in itself a sequel to Elder Scrolls: Morrowind). Much like its predecessors, it takes place in an open fantasy world which you’re allowed to explore at your own pace in the manner of your choosing. Oh sure, it has the traditional ‘Only the one spoke of in legend can save the world and, by the way, that’s you’ plot, but there are plenty of sub quests and distractions to keep you busy for hundreds of hours without you even needing to go anywhere near that.

It opens with your as yet unnamed character being carted off for execution. Said execution is unsurprisingly interrupted (which is lucky, otherwise I’d be wondering why I spent 40 quid on a cut scene) by the emergence of a dragon which fries everybody it can see enabling you to perform a daring escape (for ‘escape’ read ‘tutorial’). It of course emerges that you have a great destiny, blah de blah, so far so every fantasy trilogy you’ve ever read or glanced at on geeks bookshelves.

And you’re then let loose in a huge fantasy world racked by Civil War where if you can see it, you can travel to it. Much like Oblivion this is slightly overwhelming at first, but the pure joy of this game comes from exploring Skyrim which hosts a cavalcade of dungeons, ruined temples, haunted caverns and fortresses. Admittedly once you’ve discovered a location you can travel there with a few key presses, but this defeats the object. The fun is in wandering off the beaten track and discovering the secrets of the world for yourself.


"Have at thee, tiny crab! That's for giving it all that!"
*does comical pincer hand movements*
It’s not without bugs (by which I don’t mean the Horned Skull-Beetle of the V’poresh Mountains which I may have invented). Characters will happily speak over each other like they’re on the set of Iron Man and I met one poor woman in a town who had found herself unfortunately phased into the wall of her house. I chatted with her for a while and she didn’t seem bothered that she was tethered to the spot with her face sticking out of a wall though, so no harm done. Dragons will swoop overhead and people won’t even react, despite the fact that the game presents them as some World destroying threat.

But oh, those dragons. They’re Skyrims major selling point, and they’re brilliantly realised. If you’re lucky you’ll hear the familiar screech of one of them in the distance, circling some distant misty mountains and marvel a while at the sheer majesty of the beast. If you’re unlucky it has spotted you first – you’ll hear the sound of huge leathery wings shaking the earth, catch a glimpse of its vast shadow and then you’ll be flambéed (thanks to all that Nord Mead you’d ingested) inside your armour. If you’re really unlucky it has dragged a mate along as well, meaning you'll end up as some kind of dragon pull-toy.

A hoary old fantasy plot dictates that it is your destiny to be a Dragon Slayer but I’ll be honest in that I haven’t managed to do so yet without assistance. Why couldn’t the ancient tales have dictated that a legendary Crab killer would walk the earth? I’m awesome at that – the scourge of Crustaceans everywhere. If you’re in luck the dragons flame or ice breath will also irritate some innocent Giant who was previously just minding his own business herding his mammoth who’ll then wander in like a pissed off 60 foot tall Phil Mitchell and give the dragon a piece of its mind. And the large tree it uses as a club.


Your unique talent as a Dragon Slayer gives you the ability to learn new abilities from vanquished dragons souls in the form of allowing you to learn previously discovered magical words which form a Shout (“Get! Orf! My! Land!” – that kind of thing). These shouts bless you with superhuman abilities – the ability to move faster than sound, to freeze time, to breathe fire, etc.

My character in Skyrim is an angry ginger lady called Tara who is quite skilled at fighting and cooking. For the benefit of the Court (no pun intended), I’d like to point out that any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

If I had any criticism of Skyrim at all, it'd be that I've been spoiled by the excellent quality of voice acting in both the recent releases Arkham City and Uncharted 3. Many of the Skyrim characters seem like they're attempting sub-par Schwarzenegger impressions delivered with all the charisma of the big Austrian himself. And then you'll meet a cockney. The EDL should take note - this is successful racial integration at its most extreme.

So, in closing. Skyrim is a real time-magnet. It’s beautiful looking and completely absorbing with that annoying hook where every minute of gameplay makes your character that slight bit better but it never feels like a grind. The plot is clichéd but absorbing and (almost) every element of the game feels crafted to the point of perfection. I've been adventuring for hours so far and have barely scratched the surface of this fantasy epic. Skyrim is an icy world so utterly compelling that you'll feel the need to turn your heating up.

Right, I’m off looking for dragons. What’s that shadow abov-



  1. I've killed one dragon and been killed by a big ice troll so far! I'm liking Skyrim :)

  2. That sounds like a fun game. Would it be suitable for a cack-handed non-gamer like me, or should it only be attempted by those with super-mad-gamer-skillz0rz?

  3. I think you'd be fine, Verity. The skill is configurable and it's pretty damn accessible and the beauty is you can play it at your own pace.


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