Saturday, 12 November 2011

Skyrim - My First Impressions

                                           Finishing move.

I was on the doostep of our local EBgames store at 9am when they opened to pick up my copy of Skyrim.  That was mainly because I had a repairman coming to fix a fault in my phone line and it would be sometimes between 10 and 4 in the afternoon and I didn't want to miss him.  As it turned out he was right on time at 10 am and gone again 15 minutes later.

I decided to play a Khajiit first time round and they do look good.  Argonians look a good way. No digitigrade feet though, but the Khajiit do have whiskers.

Anyway, from the beginning...  The whole game style reminds me of Morrowind which is a very good thing IMO.

Installed through STEAM with no issues at all.  I really like STEAM as it's so easy and problem least it is for me.   A patch downloaded that fixes a few bugs in the game apparently.  I didn't bother to read the changelog too closely as it affects things I haven't even seen or experienced for the most part.

I played for around five hours last night and had no crashes or other glitches.  I did have one graphic anomaly but that was driver related and reloading the game fixed it.   It happens occasionally in other games.  Nvidia are supposed to be releasing new drivers with Skyrim in mind and I think there are Beta ones already available.  I don't test Beta software, especially device drivers, so I'll wait for the real release.

I was a bit surprised to find the graphics are not as high res as expected.  I can run the game on Ultra and it looks pretty, but not outstanding.  At night time things like rocks, trees and other things seem to have a cartoon outlined look about them which looks a bit odd at times.  However, all of that is a secondary consideration as far as I'm concerned.  It's the game content I care about. 

Things I don't like first as there are only a far.

Also, I've noticed that many of the things in this game were implemented in Oblivion by modders or taken from older rpg's, so they are not particularly original as far Skyrim is concerned.  It's how they are implemented that matters though as originality in any field is a rare thing to accomplish these days.

Initially, I hated the menu system but I got used to it even though there are unnecessary steps to be able to hot key an item.   You should also be able to close a container with the same key that opened it, but ...whatever, the game is a console port.

There are three things I do detest and will never get used to:
The in game map.  After opening and closing it so many times when I was trying to find a path up a mountainside (and still haven't) it gets a bit annoying with the zooming and fake 3D Flash console style.  AND once again there's no mini map on screen .  If it has to have the 3D look at least let it be rotated so the base of mountains can be seen, otherwise it's just pointless annoying fluff. 

Thankfully, I got a real physical map with my copy of the game.

I wish they had also put the compass at the bottom of the screen instead of in a distracting place at the top, but that's not as bad as the map.   I do like not having other status bars on screen unless one takes damage etc as that adds to the immersion.  aka BT Mod for Oblivion....

2.  The Perks Tree visual system.  Abyssmal.  What's wrong with a simple list like Fallout 3 and New Vegas where one can easily see what's available.  No, you have to click and scroll through an annoying 3D constellation star map which is also pointless fluff and can't be seen in it's entirety.  Unless I missed something and believe me I looked.   I hope they spent as much time on other aspects of the game as they did with this...and the map because it's atrocious.

3.  Horses.  This is bigger and what a disappointment.  I purchased one with just the right amount of money (1000 coins) just to try it out.  Well, I'm going to go back a few saves and forget about it or maybe try it again later if there are other horses for sale elsewhere.

It's a huge backward step.  If you thought they were hard to control in Oblivion this goes light years the other way.  The controls are so finicky and "loose' for want of a better term, it's almost unmanageable.  The number of times I rode off a bridge or almost over a cliff because of one tiny tap on a direction key....Ugghh!

Dismount doesn't always work immediately when you are attacked.....but what's worse is no matter how far away you leave your horse the enemy will always make a beeline for it and attacks it first.  It's like I don't exist.   The horse will also fight back though and they must be essential because mine should have died to fireballs, and axes (not mine) not to mention wolves, many times.

You would think Bethesda would have fixed this.  The horse models are odd as well, but that's nothing compared to the control of them, or lack of it.

It would have been nice to see a system like Age of Conan has, or even the first Two Worlds game, where you have to learn to ride the horse via buying training for better control.  Also a quick dismount as in AOC would be nice for when bandits or wolves chase you down and ATTACK THE BLOODY HORSE.  I'd be pleasantly surprised if something like this was actually in the game as it is early days yet, but I doubt it there will be anything remotely like it.

On to the good stuff:

The music and voice acting is superb.   Nice variation of voices for all races except maybe the beast races which sound too human, but I can live with it.  I met this recognizable fellow on the road.

I've seen complaints about the body and face models and textures, but I think they look fine and suit the game world very well.   In fact I doubt I will even install a body replacer when they are made and they will be if at all possible.  The rugged and natural look of the people looks realistic and just fits nicely.

Nude body replacers seem to be more important to some people than the actual game which I find a strange priority.   I used replacers (HGEC and Robert's male... both nude) in Oblivion so I could use some of the modded outfits, but it's not necessary here IMHO.  The people I have divested of their garments at death in Skyrim have had varying types and colours of underwear and nothing as ugly as Oblivion's "nappies."

As far as I can see on NPC's and in the character menu there is no obvious neckline, but I haven't really taken a lot of notice.

The character creator takes a bit of gettting used to and it's not that hard to make a nice looking character, but then I don't want a catwalk model or anime waif in a world of violence and strife either.  I shudder at the thought of the anime mods that will be forthcoming....I just detest the anime domination of Oblivion.  I know I don't have to look or download, but it just makes the game appear so ridiculous and out of place and will be worse in Skyrim.  My opinion so take it or leave it. 

There is a nice variety of wildlife and they are not all suicidal.  In fact the only animals that have attacked me so far are wolves and a very nasty troll which killed me in one hit.  I haven't come across the always present in rpg boars yet, but I suspect they are around somewhere.  I've seen rabbits, foxes, deer, chickens, shaggy yaks, a dog, horses, birds and others I can't remember at the moment.  Not to mention dragons...XD

                                              A Boy and His Dog.

I like the variety of armour and clothing which is a nice change and some of it shows skin especially the light armour my stealthy rogue Khajiit wears.

Tried making potions at an alchemy station and I quite like the system.  Unfortunately for the occupant of a small shack in the wilderness the experience was less exciting or rewarding...she took umbrage with something I did and is no more.  Admittedly, I knowingly stole some of her ingredients, but I think what set her off was reading a letter on her table.   Not sure which but she took an instant dislike to me after that.

The theft sytem seems to have been well overhauled and at least and you won't be hunted from one side of the country to the other for picking up a crust of bread.  No-one seems to know I killed this woman although she attacked me first, or stole her far.

I've only been through one dungeon so far and I imagine it's the same one every new player finds first.   I was impressed at the length, variety, and changing style throughout the ruin as well as the different levels and types of enemies.  Very nice work which I hope is repeated in it's variety further on in the game.

I haven't gotten as far as real crafting as I lack the recipes and most likely most ingredients, but I have honed and improved my sword and made it even deadlier.

Soup anyone:

That's about it for first impressions at the moment and after only a few hours play.  Back with a character story and diary later if I get around to it..  One thing I wish is to be able to change my Khajiit's name.  I got stuck in character creator trying to think of a name I wanted to use because i didn't think of it before entering the game.  Names are important to me and have to suit the character.  Anyway, it seems the showracemenu works as does the other normal console commands so I'll try it later.

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