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No GravatarEvery once in a while, there is an awesome game that comes out, and it revolutionizes the way that a person views gaming.  For me, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is one of those games.  It has everything that I demand in a game: a cool story, fun game play, an expansive world, and the ability to customize my game experience as I see fit.  I love the game so much that it’s one of the top games that I’ve put the most hours into, and that’s saying something because I’ve spent a lot of time on many different games.  It’s one of my all-time favorites.  Here’s why:

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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an open world action role-playing game that was developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks.  It is the fifth game in the Elder Scrolls franchise, following 2006’s Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.  Skyrim was released November 2011 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC.  A remastered version is coming out for the game for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in October of this year.  The game uses the Creation Engine, which was specifically rebuilt for the game after some of the issues with Fallout 3.  Skyrim got critical acclaim and is consistently rates as one of the best video games of all time.

Set 200 years after its predecessor, Skyrim focuses on Tamriel’s Nordic area (Skyrim, hence the game’s name).  There are two warring factions at odds against each other.  The Stormcloaks consist of Skyrim’s native Nordic folk who wish to rule their own land (and are extremely racist).  The Imperial Legion represents the Empire and wishes to keep the region safe and at peace (but then the native people don’t have control of their own area).  After being almost killed by the Imperials and surviving a dragon attack, the player realizes that Skyrim is in deep trouble if dragons have come back.  Eventually, the player finds out that he or she is Dragonborn, a person born with the soul and power of a dragon.  In the main quest line, the player must find out what is going on with the reemerging dragons; however, there are tons of other side quests that jump into the rich history and politics of the region.  It’s absolutely amazing.

The main story is pretty involved, but it’s the expansive world that really shines with Skyrim.  It’s definitely got one of the best maps that I have seen (I still prefer it over The Witcher 3’s map, which is also quite expansive).  The scenery is gorgeous, especially since I play on PC with the graphics on the highest levels with a few texture mods as well.  Most of the items in the world are extremely interactive.  The people in Skyrim are interesting.  The places are fun to explore.  I’ve gone walking around the map just for fun.  I’ve even read about people who create characters and don’t even play the game; they just make up their own story and go hunting animals, collect things, and just have fun.  It’s so in-depth with lore and back-story that it’s hard not to fall in love with Skyrim.

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However, even though the open world is amazing, my favorite part of the game is actually the game play itself.  I have never quite come across anything quite like it.  For me, even another Bethesda heavy-hitter like Fallout 3 or even Fallout 4 doesn’t compare.  Sure, Skyrim is a first-person, action RPG.  A lot of games are.  The thing that really makes Skyrim stand out is the leveling and experience system.  It’s very simple: you level up what you use.  Whatever angle you want to play with Skyrim, you just have to use it to level it.  In this way, players are not pigeon-holed into a certain class.  Do you want to be a mage who has thief tendencies?  Go for it.  Do you want you want to be a warrior who also can use magic when needed?  Yep!  You can do that.  Do you like being a thief who enjoys two-handed combat?  Why not?

I love the ability to be able to do what I want, when I want.  I love that I can mix and match with the different combat styles and character niches because…why not?  I hate having to decide what class to play because two hours later, I want to change it.  Skyrim lets me do whatever I want.  When I initially played it on Xbox 360, I was a bit limited with the amount of perks that I could get, so some specialization was required.  However, on PC I can do a bit of cheaty, cheat, cheating and add perks when I run out of levels.  It’s perfect for the OCD gamer.  In Skyrim, it’s totally okay to be a warrior/mage/thief all at the same time.

The graphics hold up very well, especially if you are playing on PC and can put on some texture mods.  On the consoles, it is starting to look dated.  Hopefully, it will look great again with the remaster.  However, when the game originally came out, the graphics were hand’s down awesome.  I love the textures of the scenery.  Even though some of the color palate can be very heavy on grays and browns, the game is still beautiful.

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There is something special about Skyrim, and it may have to do with the fact that gamers can easily make fun of it without damaging the integrity of the game.  How many “arrow to the knee” memes have you seen?  How many times have people made fun of the fact that one can eat 99 raw potatoes in the middle of the battle to gain health?  What about trying to kill a chicken?  Or, my personal favorite happens to be: why are all of the lights on in a dungeon that hasn’t been visited by anyone in hundreds if not thousands of years?  It’s fun to make fun of Skyrim because it’s a game that no one has to defend as being good.  Some people might not like it, and that’s fine.  But it’s hard to argue that it’s a bad game.  Therefore, when there are some “silly” elements of the game, it’s enjoyable to point out the shortcomings because even though there definitely are some, no other game even comes close.

There are a lot of games that I have enjoyed over the years, but there are few that I truly love.  The Elders Scrolls V: Skyrim is one that I absolutely will love forever, even when newer and better games come out.  I have about an estimated 415 hours on the game right now between console and PC, and I have thoroughly loved every minute of it.  I actually cannot think of another game that I have spent so much time on.  That’s the power of Skyrim.

By Jessica Brister On 21 Apr, 2016 At 07:35 PM | Categorized As Featured, Games You Slept On, PlayStation, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

No GravatarUncharted: Drake’s Fortune is the start to an amazing series.  I unfortunately played the games out of order (started with Uncharted 3).  I ended up buying the Uncharted/Uncharted 2 dual pack and really thought I got my money’s worth from both games.  Despite having some age, Uncharted is a blast to play.

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Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune is a third-person shooter, action-adventure game that came out on the PlayStation 3 in 2007.  It was developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony.  Overall, it sold very well, and got critical acclaim, spawning two sequels.  Although when I originally heard about it, I thought it was going to be a Tomb Raider rip-off, so I ignored it completely until now.  This is not the case at all, and I wish I would have known that back in 2007.  This game is a ton of fun and does not play like a Tomb Raider game at all in game play, story, and tone.  If anything, it’s more Indiana Jones-like than Lara Croft.  The game was re-released as part of the Uncharted Collection in 2015 with slicker-looking graphics and more power.

In this game, we are introduced to Nathan Drake, treasure-hunter, Victor Sullivan, his mentor, and Elena Fisher, a journalist hired to record his adventures.  Nate is searching for Sir Francis Drake’s secret, which leads him on a quest for El Dorado.  Adventuring ensues with Elena provided as a love-interest for Drake.  Overall, it’s a fun story, but I felt the pacing was a little slower than Drake’s Deception.  I also was a little annoyed at the fact that the scenery was very similar: jungle/ruins.  That made the game feel a little dull, especially compared to Drake’s Deception, where you get to go to so many cool places.

The game is a typical third person shooter, duck and cover with the added elements of jumping and climbing.  Being the first of the series, it is definitely not as polished as the later games.  One thing that bugged me was the constant gun battles that lasted way too long and came up too often.  I felt like there wasn’t a very good balance between the adventuring portion and the action portion.  There were also some spots that drove me absolutely crazy and actually made me want to stop playing (I’ll get to that in a bit).  This is how I would classify each part of the game play:

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1.) Adventuring/Puzzles

To me, the fun part of the game is the adventuring, and even though I don’t particularly like puzzle games, I actually kind of enjoyed the ones in this game.  I could figure out most of the puzzles by myself, and the rest I easily found how to do on YouTube (what did we do before YouTube, right?).  The jumping, leaping, and climbing is pretty easy to get the hang of, although it was a lot more polished in the later games.  I actually wish there was more exploring and jumping puzzles.  I felt that it was a little lacking, especially for a Tomb Raider fan like myself.

2.) Fighting

This was the part that really annoyed me.  I thought there was way too many gun fights for an adventure game.  It felt like every time you turned the corner there was another gun fight.  It actually became very predictable after awhile and took away from the game a bit.  This aspect was much improved in later Uncharted games, but it still unfortunately took a little away from the game.

3.) Vehicles

Throughout the game, you will ride on different vehicles, including Jeeps and jet-skis.  To me, this was one of the more fun points of the game.  In the Jeep, Elena is driving and Nate is shooting.  With the jet ski, you are driving as Nate but also must shoot with Elena.  It was a fun change from the massive amounts of gun fights that consumed the game play.

For the time that the game came out, the graphics were pretty good.  Obviously now, they are a little dated.  However, I could stand the graphics, and they didn’t give me a headache from Final Fantasy VII syndrome.  By the way, Final Fantasy VII syndrome is a term my husband and I have coined to describe how older games with funky graphics give us headaches when we play because of the eye strain.

Here’s the problem with this game: It reminds me of how I felt about the original Mass Effect.  Now don’t get me wrong, except for the cover-shoot and third person game play, they are worlds different.  But because I had to wait to play the original Mass Effect since I typically play on PC or PlayStation, I had already played the second and third game.  Playing the original became tedious and unpleasant because I knew how much better the later games were.  I don’t see this as a complete knock to Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune.  With all gaming franchises, there are improvements that come along the way.  Luckily, this is a franchise that keeps on improving.