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The Elder Scroll V: Skyrim review for XBOX360

The bandits lay slain before me as I sheath my bloodied blade. I look to the last few rays of orange light as the sun sets and the stars begin to twinkle above me. A wolf's howl is carried on the winds of a frigid blizzard ushering in the night. The dangerous night. I check my map and head for the nearest town, Falkreath, to stock up on supplies.

Upon my arrival I bear witness to a funeral ceremony being conducted by the towns priest. I chat to the priest after the ceremony and find out that the recently deceased is a 10 year old girl who had been viciously mutilated by a man now sitting in the town jail. I decide to investigate this further as there are rumours of Werewolvism about but there is still the matter of my dwindling supplies at hand not to mention a province on the brink of civil war and the mysterious return of the natives of Akavir, the Dragons.

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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is, in my humble opinion, a perfect game. Despite its flaws (of which there are a few), it delivers on so many levels it really is in a class of its own. Simple things like moving from one town to another quickly become a day-long event in the real-world, because you’re constantly looking over each hill, tree-line or ruin to make out whatever it is that’s caught your eye. Almost all of these points of interest become major moments in the game whether they are part of the main quest-line or not. Every time you pick up the controller the game has a new story to tell.

If you’ve played either Oblivion or Fallout 3, you know that this is what Bethesda do best. They tell stories from the players perspective and make you care. There are no clear cut answers, right from the start of the game you are encouraged to think. What character, what class and skill set, right down to how much dirt you want on your skin.( not sure if that actually plays a part yet!)
Basically all decisions you make will impact you at one point or another and there is no way you can be adequately prepared to face them all comfortably.

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I am playing on the XBOX360 and I'm astonished at the level of detail and graphical fidelity present in the gameplay, its a wonder it runs on console at all! The draw distances are huge and as for the magic effects, I had to manually lift my jaw more than once. The people and creatures are exquisitely realised and rendered. Some enemies seriously give me the heebyjeebies but animations are still not quite where they need to be, particularly on the player character, though they are good enough to a warrant a complete play through in third person.

The menu system has been streamlined and is quick and easy to navigate. Same goes for the character development screens which are now shown in the stars. You still gain proficiency in skills the more you use them and each time you level up you’re allowed one perk point to add to any skill-tree from either Warrior, Thief or Wizard star systems. Perk points will require a certain level for whatever skill it is you’re attempting to grow, which encourages players to focus on growing a few skills instead of randomly adding points to areas you wouldn’t normally use.

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Combat is visceral and vicious but not as dynamic as say, Dark Messiah though it is leaps and bounds ahead of Oblivion and Fallout 3. You can now dual wield weapons and magic or combinations of both, my personal favourite being lightning in one hand and self heal in the other which can be activated simultaneously.

You also have the ability of 'shouts' that you acquire from slain dragons or secret shrines. There are supposed to be about 12 shouts with different effects ranging from stunning enemies to slowing time. Its a welcome addition and goes along way to making your character feel like a true Dragonborn.

Something that deserves a round of applause is that you now level independently of the world around you, so those bandits that gave you a hard time outside the city gates before better steer clear after you've spent a few days in the wilds advancing your level cap. Which is 50 by the way.

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Skyrim is all about player choice, the world turns and changes around you but its how you choose to interact with it that will shape your game and your journey. Skyrim doesn't tell you what to do or how to play. The game is there for you to discover. You’d be hard-pressed finding any other game on the market now that can match what is available here.

I can honestly say that if you want your absolute money's worth in one game purchase this year look no further than Skyrim. It truly is a work of art.

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