Skyrim Review: Part 3 - The Features

The third part of our Skyrim Review concentrates on the Game's Features. These include the Music, the User Interface (UI) and how the Artificial Intelligence (AI) and NPC's behave in the game. Also, how the story is effected by your actions.

The Music in Skyrim is something magical. Although perhaps not the best music the series has ever seen, it is certainly very beautiful, and something I often search up on YouTube and can spend hours listening to over and over again. It's a beautiful complement to the phenomenal environment of Skyrim. Wherever you are in the game there's music of some sort. Whether it be the triggered music from completing an action or a quest, or something sung by a bard in the local Tavern - they are all great. I feel the epitome of this though, is the theme for this entry in the series entitled Dragonborn. If you haven't listened to this then you are missing out so much, it is possibly my favourite theme so far from an Elder Scrolls game, and I feel I should take a moment to explain why. To create this theme Jeremy Soule (Elder Scrolls Composer) decided he had to do something special. First decided to create a whole new language for the song. He hired language experts to write and form "The Dragon Tongue", which is used throughout the whole game when Dragons speak, and is the language that your shouts are spoken in. By iteself, this is pretty cool, but what makes it more so is that the song lyrics (in Dragon Tongue) rhyme in that language, AND in English, so no matter which language you play it in, it will still function as a song. Awesome, right? Well, to sing the Theme Mr Soule also hired 30 male singers who went through the song in Dragon Tongue. But, 30 wasn't enough so these peoples voices were changed to it sounded like there were 90 people there. That is cool. To add to this, since Morrowind (TES: III) the theme's are traditionally a slightly re-worked version of the previous soundtrack, meaning if you listen to the three of them, they are all incredibly similar. Anyway, I love the theme's and I listen to them while writing this stuff normally, its great for inspiration.

The original Skyrim UI in the Inventory. Source: forum.rpg.net














Ahh, the UI in Skyrim. A bit of a sore spot for PC players of the game, who always feel that it was the only part that wasn't built for PC optimization. It's clunky, is fairly hard to use with a mouse (I'm thinking especially of the character selection at the beginning of the game which was incredibly hard to click through) but it isn't ugly. It doesn't look bad. If it was done slightly better it wouldn't have been a problem at all. Luckily though, because the problem was mainly on PC, it meant modders could fix it. And they did. Very well. Probably the best Mod to fix the UI, is called SkyUI, and can either be downloaded from Nexus mods, or from the Steam Workshop.

Skyrim UI with the SkyUI Mod running. Source: explodingbarrel.ca
Something which I always see people complaining about in YouTube videos, and when I read something about Skyrim, and even when I dip back in I feel irritated about is the way NPC's react to stuff you do in the game. When you go up to two guys and kill one (in stealth mode) and the other says, something stupid and not at all reacting to the situation in front of him. I hate that. And it annoys me a lot. It means the obvious build is Stealth (if you want to go around killing people for no reason) as there is no chance of you being caught unless there's a guard there with them. This can easily be fixed though, and doesn't have to much of an impact in the game, so nothing is spoilt by it. But I really hope its fixed for TES: VI.

As an RPG your decisions SHOULD effect the way the game is played out for you. This is why so many people are supportive and love RPG's; it brings a really personal story, if its done well. I'm in two minds about this is Skyrim. On one hand this does happen with what you do decide. But, there aren't many decisions like this that you do have to make. So it's done well. Where it is done. I suppose what does effect the way you are seen is the way you treat people in the game, if you join the Thieves Guild, The Dark Brotherhood, and The Companions. This can make people fear you, trust you or try to kill you. That's great, but decisions in speaking or where you go aren't so great.







The Music in Skyrim is magical, but the Features are let down by the UI, AI and some of the effects that stem from decisions that you make.


The next part of our Skyrim Review asks Is It Fun? Find this, and the full, edited together Review next week.

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