For once, I am not writing about books. Don’t worry, this will not last (wait for my next post or two for the gift guide). I rarely play video games largely because most games stink. In short, I loathe predictable stories and completely linear play, and I consider button-mashing to be one of the vilest experiences known to man. In many ways I would rather gargle vinegar, castor oil, and fish effluence than sit in front of a mindless game hitting a single button repeatedly to the point where it feels as if my knuckle will burst through, slap me in the face, and set up its own colony in my kitchen. I am not a fan. I do, however, enjoy adventure games, that long-lost style of gaming that came to us by the visionaries Sierra in the 1980s. I loved the way you could wander around, figure things out, and explore the game in a somewhat free-form fashion.
Sadly, the adventure game died thanks to the first-person shooter (I blame YOU, Doom), so they had to re-think the whole enterprise. It took time, but Bethesda Studios got it right. The first Elder Scrolls game I ever saw was Oblivion, and while it looked good, I found the story weak, so I gave up on it pretty quickly. Then they did Fallout 3, which, until now, was my all-time favourite video game, despite its short time on this planet. I loved how you could wander off in any way you want and how your decisions and interactions affected the game. It was marvelous, and the storylines in the game, from the main quest to the cornucopia of side quests, were almost all great (or at least entertaining).
Two weeks ago, I bought Skyrim (available for PS3, XBOX, PC). I have to force myself not to play it during the week, because it is, hands-down, the most entertaining, beautiful, wondrous, and interesting game I have ever played. I say this with a mere 40 hours under my belt, and I haven’t even scratched the surface (to give you an idea – I spent 35 hours wandering around before I finally decided to start the main quest). Everything you do in this game affects who your character is and what they will do. The levelling up is intuitive; there’s no need to do number crunching. The scenery is gorgeous. The soundtrack is remarkably uncheesy most of the time (hey, they can’t be perfect). The dialogue is, well, it’s video-game dialogue, but I’ve heard so much worse.
The real question isn’t “Do I buy Skyrim as a gift (for yourself or others)?” but “Why haven’t you bought this game? It is crack. Buy it now. Now. NOW.!!!” Yes, I’m biased. I don’t care. This game is a bloody great time, and I’m just doing it as a sword-wielding barbarian. Can’t wait to see how it works when I’m a wizard. <puts on cape and wizard hat>
You can order a copy of Skyrim for X-Box, PS3 or PC from Amazon.ca here.