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Skyrim. Friend or Foe?

November 29, 2012

How I feel now…

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The hype and anticipation behind this game was palpable. It even got me in a frenzy really, it looked epic and mind-blowing. I absorbed every trailer, every second of gameplay footage, I was ready to spread my arms and love this game.

This is from a person who really detested Oblivion. I was late for the party with Oblivion. I bought it after playing the masterpiece which was Fallout 3. I was quite disappointed with Oblivion really, it was too colourful and high fantasy for me perhaps; I like the grainy desolation that is the Fallout universe.

I thought that right up until I saw Skyrim. It looked mucky, more intense and more ‘realistic’. I know that’s a contradiction in terms but Oblivion is like a rainbow on acid. Skyrim looked more like a scruffy viking beard. This is of course abstract and pointless as no one but me will understand my thought process.

Just know that I was ready to dive in and enjoy Skyrim in a way I never enjoyed Oblivion. Suddenly The Elder Scrolls was accessible to me. I did however make the unfortunate mistake of buying the game for the Playstation 3 … I will come back to this point shortly.

So, excitedly, I rushed to the store to purchase my very own shiny copy of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and if I knew what a roller-coaster ride was in store for me I don’t know whether I would have bothered.

Come at me Bro!

Of course, the few first weeks were a blessed honeymoon period. I was too blissfully happy stealthing through dungeons, joining the guilds and completing quests to feel or even acknowledge any fault with the game. Of course, there were occasional hiccups (kinda like Fallout 3), but I wanted to play so I forgave them. The first time I entered Whiterun Hold the game froze out and bugged. I just assumed that this was random and not going to be a persistent problem.

Slowly the little niggles started to filter through the rose-tinted spectacles I had taped to my face. Suddenly, Dragons became an annoyance. Instead of attacking me, the guy flinging arrows at them, they would chase a goat or my horse off into the distance. Apparently Dragons would be intelligent and have reactive A.I. So smart were they that they would dumbly follow goats like moths to a flame. I noticed this at the same time the problems with the Playstation 3 memory leak came out. Skyrim, for whatever technical reason, hadn’t been developed with the Playstation 3’s somewhat wonky memory configuration in mind. I could forgive this if all multi-platform games had problems like this. Though to my recollection I can not remember one other game that had such a problem. Save files over 500mb were suddenly experiencing erratic frame-rate problems, persistent freezes and troublesome glitches.

Well, of course I was frustrated but I was tempered by my enjoyment of the experience. I was willing to forgive if the problem was sorted, and Bethesda like the good troopers they are, reassured the Playstation community by telling us they would work on a solution and update it with a patch as soon as possible. There was integrity still left and the world made sense still.

Though soon I started to tire of the land of Skyrim. It wasn’t necessarily the bugs or the memory leak. I had just burnt myself out. Though, after the memory leak was patched I used to come back now and again and play a little bit of Skyrim. It feel comfortable and homely to come back to, the memories were good and it was still fun to cleave a few bears in half and take fist fights in bars.

Then, earlier this year, the first DLC was announced. I thought ‘Excellent, now I can go back on Skyrim with a few added bits to keep me occupied.’ But this was a dream I would never see. A new patch came out (I’m not even sure what it was patching. I think it was to add horse combat, but I never got to check). All well and good but the patch didn’t seem to have much of a difference. But at least it hadnt made anything worse. Until I tried swimming.

Any time and I mean ANY TIME my character went under the surface of the water and the camera followed the game immediately and inexplicability crashed. Every single time. I deleted all the game data and reinstalled, and patched fully and still every single time I entered deep enough water to swim the game would crash.

After a while arguing just seems like pissing into the wind

I’d had enough at this point. It had gone from flowers and sunshine to abusive psychological torture in less than a year. It’s possibly the worst relationship I’ve had with a game.

The one thing I can not possibly understand is how half-cocked the PS3 version feels now. It was suffering from technical difficulties after only a few months. To their credit, Bethesda had fixed it for a short time, but in no time at all they had completely ruined it again with a patch. Then they say they can’t get any of the new DLC to work. Well I feel let down by Bethesda. You can’t expect players to understand that argument. You decided to release a multi-platform title. A triple A title that works well on Xbox and runs beautifully on PC.

I could understand that the Playstation is a pain to code for; it’s apparently not the easiest hardware to code, but if you decide to make a multi-platform title you should make sure you can maintain a standard of quality across the product range. To simply give up on a single format is also giving up on the players you have supported you.

Skyrim was an outstanding achievement, a masterpiece and a game that will continue to be loved and cherished, but it was a game that showed the worst commitment to players in the industry.

Image Links : ttcos.hubpages.com – 5 Reasons why Skyrim is One of the Best RPGs ever,  Quickmeme.com, 9Gag.com

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 29, 2012 12:39 pm

    agree – at the start you overlook the problems. Finally it’s a pain to play on the ps3.

    • November 29, 2012 2:42 pm

      I traded in it last week, just so I didn’t have to sigh every time I saw it on my shelf.

      • November 29, 2012 9:11 pm

        fallout three was even worse with bugs, but I did enjoy Fawkes.

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