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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The prophecy fulfilled, and the dragons return to scorch the planet.


Story

As many likely know, but I'll cover just in case, Skyrim is in the northern part of Tamerial, full of snow covered mountains. Skyrim is also very rich in minerals and beauty, making it a heavily populated land for all the races, to which the Nords are native. The game begins, 200 years after Oblivion, with the traditional "you being a prisoner" introduction. You are caught entering Skyrim, as well as several others, who are believed to be a part of a rebel group called the Stormcloaks, who believe the Empire is crumbling and wish Skyrim to be separate from its destruction, come to find that one of the captives is the leader of the group and had assassinated the King not long before his capture.

Upon arrival to a small town, you learn your fate. Death. However, after creating your character, it turns out that the guards find you are not one of the rebels, but are sentenced to death anyways. As you are about to have your head painfully removed from your shoulders, a dragon crashes the party, and you are able to escape, with the help of some captives and Imperial Guards.


Graphics

Skyrim uses a new graphics engine this time around, making the environments look gorgeous. The new engine is able to give each branch, each blade of grass, its own sense of being, they move separately, affected by the wind.People also have been redone, they move more fluidly, act more natural and go about their own schedule. Weapons will retain blood on them from previous fights, and spells look much better this time around.


Controls

The controls have been edited slightly, you can equip a weapon in each hand, and to use them, you pull the corresponding trigger. Some spells, like racial abilities, need to be used via the right bumper. You can sprint now by clicking the left joystick, and speed is determined by amount carried, and stamina. To access your journal (which has your quests and settings) you press the "Start" button, but to access inventory, you press "B", which can take some getting used too.


Voice/Music/Sound

Bethesda has always impressed me with their music scores for their games, and they didn't disappoint this time. Music is always well done whether in town, wilderness, combat or caves, the music always feels right. Voices seem to be done right, except for the Khajitt, some sound a bit like French people, I liked the way the spoke in Oblivion, but since that took place 200 years ago, it's understandable that they would lose their accent.


Other

This time around, you have no major or minor skills, your character will receive the bonus its races naturally gets, but how you level is up to you. Every skill increase adds to your level progress (any 10 skill increase and you level). You no longer get to allocate skill points to Strength, Speed, etc, this is seemingly done automatically, which is a bummer to me. This does allow you to level up more, but prevents in-depth customization from previous installments.

Dragon Shouts provide a nice new feature, and have 3 levels. You must learn each form to use it, and they become much stronger as you do, I've only unlocked 2, one is a blast and the other gives you a speed boast for a second, which comes in handy.

When you level up, you'll earn a skill point that you can use in a specific skill area,each skill has several "Perks" that you can unlock, from increased armour while using light/heavy armour, to increased damage with one-handed weapons, there are several upgrades that will come in handy.

You can make weapons and armour, as well as other niffty items from various methods (using leather you collected, gems, etc) much like Morrowind did, which is a nice touch.


Overall

Skyrim is a awesome game, but may take a bit of adjusting if you're fresh off of Oblivion. With a vast area to explore, several quests, and many characters, Skyrim will undoubtedly be one of the better games on the X360 (or PS3 and PC) for quite awhile.


9.5/10.0

Pros:

- Beautiful graphics and character design 
- Weapon, spell and armour crafting
- Interesting spells and talents available

Cons

- Difficult in the beginning
- No skill points to allocate
- No major skills

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Lord of the Rings: War of the North




Story

The story follows 3 characters, Eradan, Farin and Andriel, who are given the duty of going to The Shire to scout enemy forces, upon arriving, they are attacked by Orcs. The trio finds that a man by the name Agandaur plans on destroying the Free People of the North under the orders of Sauron. The 3 are given the duty of distracting the enemy forces while Frodo and the Brotherhood head towards Mt. Doom, and stopping Agandaur from completing his malicious plans.


Graphics

The graphics of LotR: WitN are very nice, areas are lush and green (or not if the area requires it), and effects are well done (blood sprays, element effects, etc). Characters look realistic (or as realistic as fake beings can be) and animations are smooth. Weapons and armour have unique skins (for the most part) and equipping something changes the look of the character.


Controls

The game relies on basic controls, normal attacks, heavy attacks, block and range attacks. Holding the right trigger will allow you to use one of three melee or ranged skills. When talking with NPCs, the game uses a Mass Effect style, allowing you to ask various questions or dig deeper into the situation, this can earn you extra quests or additional info as to what you should do.


Voice/Music/Sound

The music can be a bit buggy at times, you'll hear battle music when not in battle, or it may reset a few times before working properly, but despite that, it sounds good and is appropriate. The VO seem to be appropriate for the setting of the game, characters use old tyme speech (my lord, thus, etc) and makes the game feel authentic.


Other

The game allows for split screen play of online play, this makes some parts of the game much easier to pass.

When you level up, that level stays with you, if you play as the Ranger, but decide you want to play the Melee, you'll do so with the same level of your Ranger (with all the stat and skill points free to allocate as well as all the items you had). Your team, when controlled by the AI, will allocate points automatically, and upgrade their equipment by themselves, you can provide them with armour and weapons if you want, but they may lose them.

When you beat the game, you'll unlock a higher difficulty and will be able to use your character and retain your gear, stats and level, making it easier to progress. You'll also earn more exp and better gear as you play.


Overall

This is a very fun game for RPG fans, I don't even like LotR but enjoyed this game a lot.

8.0/10.0

Pros

- Fun RPG
- Weapons and Armour are unique
- Can be a nice challenge for the player

Cons

- Can be beaten in, literally, a few hours if you rush
- Areas are linear
- Many locations on the map, only a small number are visitable