Over the weekend I had the good fortune to lay my hands on Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PC) for a few hours. A friend's friend had just picked up the game and he let me play on his machine. I was rather excited to get the chance to test it because the hype surrounding this game is huge. It has almost universally garnered excellent reviews.
This isn't a proper review because I only played the game for those few short hours. It is mostly a commentary on the sad state of console-to-PC ports.
First, a little background. I adored Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind but disliked Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. For these reasons, I wasn't sure I was going to like Skyrim.
In the little time I spent with Skyrim, I discovered an amazingly complex universe where my character was free to roam at will. The world of Skyrim is hauntingly beautiful and just makes you want to keep exploring. Well, until you stumble across some vicious monster or other.
I enjoyed the experience a great deal but all this was marred by the game's biggest flaw: the interface. Unfortunately, the developers were lazy enough to slap the same shoddy console interface on the PC version. The fact is that Skyrim wasn't made with a mouse and keyboard in mind. And it really sucks. The menus, the inventory system and character stats are a mess. It's true that after a couple of hours playing it I kinda-sorta got used to it but given enough time one can get used to anything, for example like riding a lame donkey versus a Ferarri.
To further compound the issue, the skill "tree" is so badly conceived that I dreaded having to visit it when I leveled up. The various "perks" are arranged in the form of constellations, a different one for each skill. While nice and shiny, navigating between the different skills and perks with a mouse and keyboard is a nightmare.
Melee combat seemed floaty and imprecise but casting spells was satisfying enough.
Overall I enjoyed Skyrim, which was more than I expected from it. The incredibly open world is rich with places to explore and quests to conquer. Even half an hour into the game you can find youself with at least half a dozen quests in your log and it's more often than not that embarking on one quest will get you sidetracked into yet another side-quest. In my short time in Skyrim quests didn't feel repetitive either and apparently the devs have stated that the game can generate an infinite number of quests, which is always a good thing for replayability.
All things considered, Skyrim still comes out as a great game but it's unfortunate that Bethesda has forgotten their PC origins and have chosen to saddle this otherwise brilliant game with a terrible and shoddy console interface. My dislike for consoles is only hardened by this experience, and I continue to believe that a proper RPG should not be played on a console, or at least not without mouse-and-keyboard. While many reviews have given Skyrim scores of 9/10 or 90%, I can't give it more than 8/10. I was seriously considering buying it but now I'll just wait until it reaches the discount bin.
Patch 1.0.5 commentary
1 year ago