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The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim
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And it really is. Whatever way you look at this game, it's a cut above the rest. The amount of customisation in this game is, to be quite honest staggering. Right off the bat you will notice that the game has improved ten fold. The graphics are much better in comparison to Oblivion's, although this was to be expected. Combat is much smoother, both from a 1st and 3rd person view. The dual wield feature allows you to combine sword and magic, double magic etc and these can greatly improve your odds during battle (or decrease them, if you get it wrong!) The improvements on the 3rd person view may seem insignificant but they do a lot to improve the game. As one who played Oblivion from a 3rd person view (or tried to), the movement of the character left a lot to be desired - it's a lot easier to immerse yourself in a game if what you're looking at is more realistic than not. But i digress.
Those who have already played the game will have noticed the addition of 'perks' to the levelling system - not surprising, the game being made by the same developers of the Fallout series. That said, the perks are a breath of fresh air, and enable you to really get to grips with what you want you character to be. Do you want him to be a smooth talking, masterful pickpocketing archer? Or would you rather him to be a magically potent warrior? The combinations are literally endless, and you'll soon realise you'll be making more than one save on this game.
One of the best aspects of Skyrim is the spontinaity of combat. You can be riding across a plain, watching a group of giants herd mammoth (quite a sight to behold), and a dragon will swoop in out of nowhere, dispatch of the other creatures before turning it's attention towards you. And despite the various expletives that will run through your mind at that point, you'll realise that Bethesda really went to town on this game.
Another thing you will quickly establish is the map - IT'S HUGE. To ride across half of it (taking into account the various battles) took about 40 minutes. When you really think about it, that's quite substantial, and you could be forgiven for thinking it'd get tedious. Of course, the fast travel option is available, but there's more than enough to keep your attention even as you just wander/ride through the wilderness.
The various guilds give you plenty of choice should you want to specialise in a particular trade. Without giving too much away, there's plenty of bonuses to be obtained should you go through a guild's quest, some much more startling that others!
In all honesty, there are few things to genuinely complain about. The loading times can be quite long at times but, this would only be a problem if the gameplay itself wasn't worth waiting for - and it is. There will be the odd occasion where you'll walk through a village and see an NPC hanging out of a wall, or stuck on another NPC but, to be quite honest, these do little to take away from the fact that Skyrim is a truly awesome game.
One warning: be prepared to call into work sick, as it's very easily to lose track of time while playing!