If something has characterized Bethesda Softworks from its distant beginnings, it is a very humble way of working: without promising the impossible but striving for each title released with a goal in mind. The idea of a great game that they have in this company, which finds its maximum expression in the saga The Elder Scrolls, is one where you are the total and absolute protagonist of what happens in their universe. They make a fantastic, realistic and very detailed world, and we act in it with total freedom.
They have worked in this direction for many years, gradually improving the quality of the aforementioned saga. With many years of development for each, Bethesda has never released a The Elder Scrolls if they had no significant news to show. For this reason, each title of the franchise has been a small work of craftsmanship, a jewel where the company has given the best it has ever had and where its commitment has evolved. And so, step by step, they have reached Skyrim, the fifth canonical installment, the spearhead. And the best of his proposals.
Players can only prostrate ourselves before this work of art of never-before-seen dimensions, a title that shows Bethesda's formula refined to unsuspected limits. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, break molds and destroy the topics. Everything we have heard in a thousand and one games (absolute freedom, a living world, characters who respond to our actions...) is finally fulfilled in this title. A game that surpasses the player in all aspects, so gigantic that the most difficult thing will be deciding which path to take.
The story is the following
200 years after the events of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, all of Tamriel resents the Empire's weak situation. From their central position in Cyrodiil, the Imperials try to keep all regions united under one banner, and all races represented by the same political institution. But not everyone agrees with being part of this Empire, an Empire that sees how the civil wars unleashed by the death of Uriel Septim VII have led to a situation of extreme precariousness.
In each one of the regions some rebels begin to rise demanding the independence of their lands, and the Imperial Legion applies a heavy hand to quell these small revolts. This obviously only fuels the conflict. Skyrim is one of the areas with the most rebellious activity, a movement led by the Storm Layers. Some of the Jarl, leaders of the great cities, support continuing under the imperial yoke; others, however, bet on direct action and the independence of Skyrim.
Meanwhile, and last but not least, a new threat looms over this northern region. After millennia without appearing, dragons wreak havoc on Skyrim again. These gigantic creatures, who were merely legends to explain to children, are now much more real than ever. Her first target has been the village of Helgen, which was attacked by one of these dragons during the execution of several criminals. The destruction was such that the news spread like wildfire among the people of this icy land.
But this catastrophe turns out to be salvation for our character. When he is about to feel the cold kiss of the ax blade on his neck, the appearance of this beast is a second chance for our anonymous hero. After giving him a face and a name, and achieving Helgen's escape as a tutorial, we will arrive at the beginning of our journey. It will be our steps that will mark the evolution of the adventure, our actions that will dictate the future of Skyrim and our sword that will decide who lives and who dies in our path.
There is little else to comment on the freedom of actions and the variety of them in the game. It is clear that at no time are we directed to make a specific quest or follow a pre-established path. We will have at our disposal a main mission, with a rather interesting plot and some unexpected script twists. This story can last us approximately a little more than 10 hours, but if you forgive me the inappropriate simile, this is just the tip.
Skyrim offers us hundreds of side missions, which can be distributed in the various guilds of the game or we can find them by talking to the characters we find. There is even the possibility of facing randomly generated missions. Side quests are more varied than in previous installments, and some guilds have really cool storylines. It is said that passing the game at 100% can take us about 300 hours, but when you play you realize that Skyrim is practically infinite.
After watching games like Battlefield 3 or Uncharted 3, evaluating the graphic section of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim seems to be limited solely to the quality of the textures, lighting and animations. What would be a purely technical analysis. But in works like this, you have to value more what gives than what does not, and check the result from a much more general point of view.
The truth is that Skyrim has some graphic flaws: the textures do not have a supreme quality, and when they load, the fluidity of the game is slightly affected. The animations may not be the best, although the jump over Oblivion is more than remarkable. Come on, that the most hateful pixelwhore have some reasons to dig in Skyrim to throw the developer in the face. The case is... Do better textures make a more beautiful title?
The overall result of the game translates into beautiful settings, like we've never seen before in a game. Strolling through the steppes of Skyrim, walking through its valleys, following its rivers and climbing its mountains becomes an epic mission thanks to this extremely elaborate environment, which makes you fall in love in the distance and surprises in the short distances for how detailed everything is. The map has a huge scale, which we will hardly cover the whole, but the best thing is that the large number of geographical features leave a much more realistic feeling than in Oblivion.
There are games that are marked with fire in the timeline of video game history: Doom and its 3D graphics, The Legend of Zelda and its surprisingly deep story for the time, Super Mario 3D and the start of a new generation of platforms, Half Life and the demonstration that FPS gameplay and elaborate plot can go hand in hand... examples we have several, and The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim becomes part of that select group that brings something more to an increasingly saturated market of products of identical invoice.
It is a unique experience in the world of video games. Bethesda has given us a living world and, consequently, malleable with our actions, and proposes us to live a virtual life as we want. That goal that so many games have sought, Todd Howard and his have achieved. After five installments maturing and polishing the formula, Skyrim becomes the most complete title in the saga. And for the one who writes these lines, the best game he has ever tried.
I am not going to ask everyone to treat it as a masterpiece. Nor that they name it game of the year, or of the generation, much less history. A wise man said that tastes are like asses and each one had his own. But any fan of the world of video games should be grateful for such products, which are groundbreaking and brave, who are committed to recreating a fantasy world and giving it a life of its own. Skyrim is an almost imperishable experience, which excites us with what video games can achieve.
There are titles that imitate movies, books or comics. Instead, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim defends the eighth art like no other, because it demonstrates what can be done only and exclusively with this format. If a movie buff will show you Casablanca so you can see what celluloid can transmit, the video game lover should teach him this title and say: "worlds like these, my friend, are only possible on my console". And that is what should make us all proud.