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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Video Game Cat Review

Date of Review: April 23th, 2012
Format Reviewed:
Xbox 360
Language / Country of Origin:
English / USA
Online Capability:
Downloadable content (DLC) available
The Elder Scrolls: Arena, The Elder Scrolls 2: Daggerfall, The Elder Scrolls: Redguard, The Elder Scrolls: Battlespire, The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind, The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion, The Elder Scrolls 4: Shivering Isles
Equipment Needed:
Maintenance Required:


Skyrim begins with your character being transported to execution as a prisoner. A short sequence explains that you have been captured along with other political prisoners, but your involvement is unclear. As your time for execution nears, a dragon suddenly attacks the village, allowing you to escape. It is then up to you to discover why the dragons are coming back, since they were thought to be extinct. You are free to pursue this quest, as well as a number of other storylines including a civil war or the various factions available (The Companions, Mages College, Dark Brotherhood, or Thieves Guild). Because of the number of choices available, the story can be quite open-ended and vary from player to player.

Skyrim is an open-world role-playing game in a fantasy setting. The game can be played in the 1st or 3rd person setting, but the 1st person setting works somewhat better when exploring indoor environments. You create your character after a short intro sequence. You are allowed to choose from 10 fictional races, each with their own unique appearance and abilities, and you can fully customize your character’s face and some aspects of their body. After a short tutorial sequence which teaches you about much of the gameplay, you are then free to explore the world. Progressing through the game occurs by exploring and completing quests, but there is a huge amount of freedom available.

Characters progress by leveling up and finding new spells and equipment. The player levels up by using skills, which creates a system that reinforces using the skills that correspond with the play style being used by the player. Leveling up allows the player to increase their attributes and choose a new perk, which modifies their skills and truly defines what makes each character unique. There are a wide variety of weapons and armor available, as well as spells that can be learned.

Combat in the game is done using melee weapons, magic, and bows. The game features a system new to the Elder Scrolls in which a weapon or spell can be chosen for each hand, allowing new combinations. The combat is much more engaging than past Elder Scrolls games, and is quite satisfying. A stealth system also offers interesting alternatives to combat. Combat is highly dependent on the skills the player has chosen to develop, but each combat related skill seems to be a viable option if the player chooses to use it. Combat can vary from easy to difficult, but the difficulty can be modified, so the game shouldn’t be beyond the ability level of most gamers.

The game plays very smoothly, and has a new streamlined menu system that is very organized and easy to use. I did experience the game momentarily slowing down at times when I accessed the menu, but it did little to diminish the experience. The game also sees occasional bugs that can freeze the game, but the autosave function prevents this from causing more than a minor setback.

The graphics and sound bring the world of Skyrim to life. The graphics bring more detail to the world than most contemporary games, which is impressive for the size of the world. The music is perfect for a fantasy setting. The game features numerous voice actors, although a few of the recycled lines can get repetitive.

Overall Skyrim is an excellent game that features a huge amount of content that is worth experiencing. The game can be returned to over and over again, and with incoming downloadable content there will be even more incentive to return to this title.

Cultural/Historical Value:
Skyrim was a much anticipated title that is now critically acclaimed. It marks the most recent entry in the long-running Elder Scrolls series. It is also an interesting case-study in the cultural impact that video games can have. The months after the games release saw an explosion of reference to the game on the internet and in media.

Teaching/Learning Characteristics:
Like other Bethesda games, Skyrim features a huge game world with a fully developed fictional setting. There are a number of books that can be found in the game that detail the history of the Elder Scrolls universe. The game also offers players choice in their actions, exploration, and character design, which becomes deeper as the character learns more about the game.

Replay Value:
The game features a high replay value, with numerous side quests and areas to explore. The game could be expected to offer up to 100 hours of playtime for a single play through if all content is explored. The game also promises to have downloadable content available in the future.

Likely Audiences:
Skyrim features mature combat, but it is not too violent for most audiences. The game should be played by those interested in fantasy role-playing games, or in critically acclaimed games.

Overall Score:

Other Reviews:


About the Author:
Brandon Clark is an undergraduate student studying Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior at the University of Minnesota. He intends to continue with this degree into an advanced degree program with the intent of a career in research. Brandon has been playing games for most of his life and considers gaming to be his primary hobby. He particularly enjoys role playing games and anything with zombies in it.


Award Giver Category Verdict
Spike Video Game Awards 2011Best RPG Winner
Golden Joystick Awards 2011One to Watch Award Winner
Spike Video Game Awards 2011Game of the Year Winner
Golden Joystick Awards 2012Best RPG Winner
Golden Joystick Awards 2012Best DLC
(Creation Kit)
Golden Joystick Awards 2012Best DLC
Runner Up
Golden Joystick Awards 2012Top Gaming Moment
(Throat of the World)
Golden Joystick Awards 2012Ultimate Game of the Year Winner
GAME British Academy Video Game Awards 2012Artistic Achievement Nominee
GAME British Academy Video Game Awards 2012Best Game Nominee
GAME British Academy Video Game Awards 2012Design Nominee
GAME British Academy Video Game Awards 2012Original Music Nominee
GAME British Academy Video Game Awards 2012Story Nominee
GAME British Academy Video Game Awards 2012GAME Award of 2011 Nominee
Spike Video Game Awards 2012Best DLC

Additional Info

ESRB Description:
Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol




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