November 11, 2016

The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim Special Edition - Review

Given that remasters or special editions are all the rage right now, it was kind of inevitable that Skyrim would not get one, seeing as it was one of the biggest games of last generation, but does this special edition of the game deserve a second look.

The biggest thing to note for The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim Special Edition is that the core of the game, is the same, there are no major changes to the game, meaning that you won’t be missing out on story. What it does do though, is add in all the additional content that released post the games release, letting you travel to a new land, discover the fight against vampires and even build a house, but of course the biggest change to this version of the game is the amount of additions to how it looks and sounds. You are still Dragonborn, doing what you can to avoid a war between two factions within Skyrim and taking down Dragons as they roam the wilds and towns, using powers, magic and weapons to accomplish, whatever it is you want to do.

The game itself now looks even better, while the game looked nice last generation, that was all due to the art design, characters, weapons, towns and more all looked believable, but with the lack of power the ambition of the design was limited, but here it truly shines, it is something to see. Of course, you will notice the improved graphics, it is pretty hard to avoid noticing them, the textures are sharper, the lighting is completely new and more dynamic and thankfully more realistic. When you view each of those elements on their own, they seem nice, but it is when they blend together that things really start to come alive.

There were times when I would be walking from one part of the world to another, only to be completely awed by the sight of the moon coming out from behind the mountains, or the light bending around the form of a dragon as it attacked. Even just walking around the snow topped peaks, could provide levels of detail not seen before and that would be before the snow would start to fall. The games particle systems must have been working overtime on providing so much detail to the world, given that I was constantly being impressed at what I was seeing. I play the game as a Breton, using more magic than anything else, with flames and sparks being my preferred spells, or variants of them, so having flames shoot from my hands, with the light bouncing off walls and lighting up dark and dreary caverns, it is truly something special. There is an issue with the sharper textures though, in that they don’t blend together properly for some materials, wood used on buildings is the easiest to show, because the textures are sharper, they tend to stop and not really blend to other parts, it happens elsewhere as well, but not as noticeable.

Sound also got an overhaul, that same, hauntingly beautiful score is still present, which is nice, but the character audio seems sharper now, so no longer will the words of some random citizen still echo about you, once you have clearly escaped their inane chatter. The same lines are here, meaning most guards will keep talking about arrows in knees, but because of the tighter mix, they are easier to ignore. The biggest addition to the game though is mod support, something that only the PC version of the game supported until now, adding mods to the game is simple, just head to the mod menu and start searching, adding mods can improve or tweak the experience, depending on what you are looking for, so its something to look at.

The one space that did not get improved in any way, which is a shame, were the character animations, they are clunky and more robotic now, more than ever, because they stand out again anything else. Walking into Solitude for the first time, seeing the crowd of people there, waiting for the execution to begin, the level of detail on the character is great, with things like cloth looking the part, but then watching clunky walking and cheering animations is something that completely kills the vibe. Watching people attempt to interact with objects, only to see them jump into another amination, its something odd to watch, that is for sure.

Sadly, as seems to be the trend with large open world games, there are also a list of issues to be found, characters seem to forget them at times, there was even an instance of a dragon skeleton that remained after I killed it, standing up when I came back around, only for it collapse when I got close and then completely fall through the ground, it never reappeared after that. Early on, when I was attempting to get a mammoth tusk for a citizen of White Run, I was fighting two of the beasts at once and the game chugged and it was a lot of it, to the point where I paused the game and left it for a minute or two, just to let it try to catch up.

If you are someone who never played the game when it first released, then you will do yourself a big disservice by not playing it now, with reword graphics, lighting and mod support, it really is the best version of the game, if you can overlook a few issues once in a while.

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