Friday, March 1, 2013

Skyrim Retrospective

So I started a fresh character in Skyrim today, thinking I'd name him Mr. Wonderful after Yahtzee Crowshaw's psychotic knife wielding elf from Mogworld, and I noticed a few things. First off I noticed that the framerate doesn't shit itself during the opening sequence anymore, so hooray for optimization patches. The second thing I noticed is that the writing, voice acting and overall audio engineering is all shit.

I think the cloak of suspension of disbelief and utter joy of playing this newest iteration of The Elder Scrolls has finally been removed and has revealed the hideous pockmarked flesh that always lay beneath.

When I first played the game characters would float into their scripted positions, or enact a sloppy animation 3 seconds late, but it didn't matter. I was having fun. Now though, all those niggling little details seem to have taken the spotlight, and every poorly delivered line, every abrupt animation, every crappy set piece looks so sloppy it kills the experience for me.

There's only so much 3rd party modding can do too. Sure, there are some truly astounding visual mods out there, but that's not what my eyes and ears crave. I want dialog that doesn't sound like it came out a first year junior high theatre club. I want animations that properly interact with items and other characters. I want NPCs that don't miss their audio cues by as much as 4 seconds on a regular basis. I want voice actors that don't sound like Bethesda pulled a handful of gas huffing homeless people off the street to fill the lesser NPC roles.

Call of Duty and other "realistic shooters" out there may be viewed as every thing wrong current gen gaming and may be more shallow than my thin weave carpeting, but at least they can put together decent set pieces and character interactions. And they can get made in less than 6 years too.

Skyrim and The Elder Scrolls will always excel at open ended game worlds and lengthly journeys through the beautiful worlds, but every time I get to a town and see what passes for a scripted event in this game it makes me want to grab Todd Howard by his scrawny little neck and scream "This was acceptable to you!?".

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