Release of the Week: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (360, PS3, PC)

This week gamers are going to have to wait all the way until Friday for the week’s biggest release. Of course, how could you let a novelty date like 11/11/11 go by without such a big game? Bethesda is doing us all a favor releasing the next title in their legendary open world RPG series on a Friday. We’ll be able to play the whole weekend without feeling guilty about calling in sick to work. When all is said and done, you are going to be able to sink 200+ hours into the world of Skyrim. Being held to a couple hours on release day would have been a tease.

The last iteration in the Elder Scrolls series was very early in this console cycle. Oblivion was an early hit on the consoles when it came out back in 2006. It was a critical and commercial success and was one of the first games to ever offer paid DLC in the form of the notorious “Horse Armor” pack. After Oblivion Bethesda brought their expertise to the Fallout series before working on Skyrim. Based on their previous success, you can bet that Skyrim is going to be a truly special experience. Bethesda has enough confidence in their game to release it on the same week as Modern Warfare 3, which is a pretty gutsy decision.

Set 200 years after the events of Oblivion, don’t expect to be running around closing portals this time around. Instead, the repetitive main story thread will be much cooler. Your goal in Skyrim is to hunt down and kill a dragon god. That’s right, a freaking dragon god… along with all the other pesky dragons that come with it. Did I mention that Skyrim has dragons yet? As the last of the dragon hunters, you probably won’t have to worry about anyone else getting in the way and stealing your kills.

In addition to 100% more dragons, Bethesda has worked hard retooling character development and creating a new dynamic questing system. They have also made some adjustments to the awkward facial animations that has plagued their previous game engines for long. The new “Creation” engine will improve everything from the nearby foliage to the distant mountains. Third person combat should be more playable then in their past games.

In essence, Skyrim is a must buy for fans of Western RPGs. Just make sure you finish up any other games you were playing first. There is enough game packed into Skyrim that you may not need another game all winter. Just make sure to come up for air and say hello to your loved ones every so often. They might not appreciate the importance of dragon slaying.

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