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Skyrim First Impressions [GO]
Nov 18th, 2011 by Dan

Elder Scrolls V Skyrim 03

It's definitely a very pretty game (Photo courtesy nxcuso)

Well, guys, I finally did it. After all the hype and all the insistence of my friends, I plopped down $60 and bought me Skyrim. Mind you, I found Fallout 3 to be dull most of the time and marginally entertaining at other times and I never had even the slightest interest in playing Oblivion, but here I was, buying into the hype.

Within the first hour of playing Skyrim I ran into every single thing I hated about Fallout and every reason I didn’t want to play Oblivion. I will enumerate these things below:

1. The fucking fantasy accents. I really hate how people insist that everyone in fantasy media have some sort of European accent.

2. Combat/Movement is floaty, disconnected-feeling, and not fun. The NPC animation is kind of janky. I dunno. Nothing has any of that tim rogers-style friction. My actions don’t pop and I feel like a bull just barreling through the world with zero finesse. It’s clumsy and awkward to me (at least at the moment)

3. Halfway through the first quest I became so encumbered that I had to clear out my inventory or walk at a glacial pace.

4. Not long after that I came across a lore book. Instead of easing me in to the world of Skyrim, this book contained 35 (not exaggerating that much) terms – be they races, countries, concepts, or things – that had no explanation or basis for someone like me to understand. It read something like this to me, “And then Fulanito found a jibbertijab and took it to Fluttergamon so that he could take his place as the leader of the Roobawoo people.” It’s incomprehensible. I literally could not parse more than a handful of sentences and this book was meant to set up the whole Dragonborn thing.

5. Conversations were super boring! “Let us both stand completely still and talk about Whiterun. If I move my vocal chords shut down.”

6. There were arbitrary rules about stealing stuff in the first house I was at. Dude will literally empty his pockets and give everything on him to me, I can take all his food, pick up gold coins from his table and keep them, but if I take his boots that are under the table…no, that’s stealing.

7. Last bad thing: the interface on PC is shit. It’s built for a controller.

I know it sounds like I hate this game. Despite all of these things immediately reminding me why I didn’t want to play Skyrim, I didn’t feel that exasperated with the game until this morning when I was thinking about it. Here’s what I did like:

– This game is really pretty. Normally that’s not that much of a factor for me, but it actually felt like a real place that I was wandering about.

– During the opening dragon attack sequence I accidentally ventured too far ahead and stood directly in the path of the dragon’s fire attack. I’m pretty sure this means I’m fireproof. Fighting dragons is gonna be a joke.

– Some of the systems do actually intrigue me. The skill progression system seems cool as does the fact that some dude apparently just yells at people to kill them. That sounds like an awesome ability to have.

– I can dual wield fireballs. I shoot streams of fire from both hands…and then my mana runs out and I back away from my assailants in circles until I can shoot them some more.

– Further along that point, I like that you build up weapon skills/abilities by use. You have the proficiency to use everything kind of poorly. It’s up to you to progress down whichever path you want.

– I’m absolutely looking forward to slaughtering as many elves as possible. My character is this ugly lizard man who I’m role playing as having utter contempt for every other race he encounters…especially elves. Can’t wait to meet some elves.

– Everyone is super ugly. Makes sense. I like that.

– I’m super excited to just wander around and see what I run into/come across. That sense of, “Oh, hey, there’s something really close by that I should just check out…” from Fallout 3 definitely persists and feels fun. Can’t go wrong with that.

Skyrim has me cautiously optimistic to play it. Maybe I’ll be able to move past the things I dislike about Bethesda games and actually enjoy the game that everyone else universally loves.

PC: Fallout 3
Nov 2nd, 2008 by Dan

Been playing Bethesda’s post-apocalyptic first-person RPG epic Fallout 3 this weekend and I’m quite pleased with it so far. Here are some quick thoughts about random things that stick out:

The game is very buggy. Apparently this was a problem with Oblivion too. I’ve gotten a few hard freezes that I was able to start mostly avoiding just by updating my graphics card drivers, but still…I shouldn’t be having this much problem playing a game that’s been approved for final release.

That being said, the game is tons of fun. VATS is a great system and I love targeting individual body parts. I’d say my absolute highlight moment goes like this:

I spots three raiders in the distance. I’m accidentally spotted by one of them as I tries to sneak in for an attack, so what do I do? I throw down a frag mine and start running backwards. The two who were close to each other approach in just the right direction, so one of them steps on the mine first and is blown to absolute pieces. The other is heavily damaged, but pushes through the smoke…only to have VATS activated on him. I target his head with my hunting rifle, get a hit, and instantly decapitate the bugger. Feeling quite smug with myself I celebrate a bit until the third guy tosses a grenade at me, giving me a concussion and nearly killing me. I shoot him dead too…good times.

I think the other main gripe I have with Fallout 3 is that it was designed primarily for consoles. Who can blame Bethesda for this? It makes absolute sense to release your game on as many platforms as possible and it’s insanely easy to port to each. Unfortunately, this leaves the PC player with an incredibly awkward interface to muddle through. Why do I have to access my Pip-Boy 3000 with a button and then manually swap to the Map screen? Any real computer game would allow me to do that, but would also have a binding that would automatically take me to my map screen. It’s only frustrating in very specific occasions, but I hate how clunky it seems on the PC. With a controller it would be quite nice, but they should have kept the functions more open for those of us playing the game on a real platform.

In case you were wondering, no, I didn’t blow up Megaton. You sick bastard.

One final note: a search string for “Does Crono love Marle” apparently lead to either my site or my host’s site. The answer is yes. Yes he does love her.

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