Red Review- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Yes, I know, I'm late to the party. Shut up.
Perhaps it is the alleged writer in me, but I appreciate a good narrative. I appreciate a good, well written story that unveils itself with a proper pace. Narrative is something that most people is lacking in video games, but there are games out there with a good story behind it.
In Fallout 3, you play as a person on the search for their father. You go out into an unfamiliar environment, encounter many various types of people, and battle seemingly insurmountable odds to accomplish this goal. In the end, the player finds his father and reconnects with him.... for about five seconds before the person you spent the entirety of the game seeking leaves to go accomplish something more important that the player. Granted that thing is providing people with clean water, but still, that's not a good example of parenting.
Fallout: New Vegas begins with the player being shot and left for dead in the middle of the Mohave Desert. Throughout most of the game, you seek to find out who left you for dead, and the role you and they play in a massive conspiracy to do... something. Actually, I didn't finish Fallout: New Vegas due to persistent bugs. Fallout: New Vegas is an example of a game with a good narrative, but who's gameplay hinders the experience of the game. If Fallout: New Vegas hadn't been riddled with bugs, I'm sure the narrative that was being constructed would have paid off in a spectacular fashion.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is set in the kind of high fantasy setting that has nothing to do with history, reality, or anything that actually happened. Such a setting provides ample opportunities to tell many varied complex stories that have illusions to things that actually happened. Just ask George R.R.RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR Martin.
What the makers of Skyrim, Bethesda, did with this opportunity is truly spectacular. Skyrim did nothing with this opportunity. Nothing. Nothing. A spectacular display of nothingness only before seen in Congress.
As near as I can tell, there is no overarching story in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, or, at the very least, not one that I cared about. Sure the gameplay is flawless, but all that does is allow me to without obstruction experience the vast supply of nothing in front of me.
In the game, you can pick up objects in the environment and carry it with you. If you pick up too many items, you can reach a point where you are carrying more weight than you character can bear, forcing you to walk very, very slowly. There were many times in playing Skyrim where I was carrying too many objects. Rather than shed myself of low value or high weight objects, I choose to walk very, very slowly. I did this for one reason: I needed to catch up on episodes of The Rachel Maddow Show.
Making this choice should have been a sign for me. Rather than being eager to experience more of the narrative and the world that Skyrim had to offer, I chose to play Skyrim passively while watching videos on my iPad. I didn't make this choice because the game I was playing was bad. I made this choice because the game I was playing was not stimulating me intellectually on any level. To me, Skyrim wasn't an uncomfortable gaming experience, it was just boring.
While I do have an appreciation for the world that Bethesda created with Skyrim, I wanted a compelling reason to continue adventuring in this world. In my playing of Skyrim, that reason was never presented to me. Perhaps others see value in walking through a world with nothing to do but kill endless supplies of skeletons, but I don't. I want a reason to kill an endless supply of skeletons, other than they are trying to kill me. I want a story. I want a purpose. I want some there there.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: B-
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