I didn't want to play next TES game, I knew that Skyrim is coming out, but I haven't been waiting for it. Me and TES have very stormy and not-so-romantic history. I haven't been able to finish either Morrowind or Oblivion, but it's time for changes, and the changes has arrived with a nuke. You must forgive me if I will write about something obvious, known from previous games - I haven't played them, I don't know them, I'm a busy man. You must forgive me if that sentences don't have any sense, last few hours I've spent finishing the game and drinking a LOT of coffee.
Game developers surprised me with release. I paid standard (for nowadays games) price and I got, cool looking box (well, they could drop the "Windows Game" bar) with (obviously) game, soundtrack (5 tracks only, make me sad) and an awesome map! I felt like Nathan Drake or Lara Croft.
For a while now I've been complaining about games being released are very short, it takes like 10 hours to finish them. I consider myself as a no-life and hardcore gamer so it's not a very big number. I'm not talking about shooters because they take half that time. I'm talking about RPG games like Witcher or Dragon Age (I intentionally didn't mentioned Mass Effect because that game is too epic to put side-by-side with other RPG games [and it's not fair either]). So playing RPG game isn't quite satisfying, yes of course we have story-like-something but it's only few hours and I expect much, much more. Well, I'm not completely honest because (for example) in Witcher (2) the story is so intense it's hard to expect from developers to write 20-30 hours of epic plot. But new dark lord is in town, and he's angry and he got a big whip. Yes indeed, finishing Skyrim took me 40 hours, and that game is very far from being finished, but later about that.
How did I got so big number? "You can finish main-plot in less than few hours you muppet!", of course I can. I can finish Witcher in 4 hours and Fallout 3 in one and a half. But I always do side-quests, and I always do all of them (or most, round 90%), that's why making main story-line with the most interesting side-quests took me so long. And I must say it now - it was totally worth it. Every single quest I've been doing had a story which was almost as-epic as main quests (except for kill dragon, kill bandits quests - but for them, you could built your own story). At some point despite me being warrior (it's a lie, there are no classes in this game) I've got Archmage title and my own tower - of course after an intrigue and epic battle. Every step we take, we have to make decisions which will change history later on - and THAT is what love in this game. I can't wait to play Skyrim again and make other choices, for example I will be evil to the bone and do everything in the name of destruction. Finishing this game isn't like in any other game. You can't finish it, quests will keep coming, after 20 hours I've realized I can't "finish all side-quest after going to next chapter". There are no chapters, YOU decide how the story goes.
I must stop now, because I can talk about quests all day long. Let's talk about something more mundane - the mechanics. From my few minutes of playing Morrowind I can tell that character leveling has changed, I can't say how big the changes are, but leveling system itself is awesome. Developers don't tell us what we can do (and what we can't), they don't say - "You have to be a warrior so don't use spells, you're a mage, Y U WEAR HEAVY ARMOUR". We decide what we are. We can be a heavy armour-sneaky-fireball throwing fucker and that is brilliant. We develop skills by using them - as simple as that. And if we have too much money we can spent them on trainers which will help us to level faster. Fight mechanics is great as well, we don't have auto-attack or skills. Left mouse button is for right hand, and right for left hand (simple, isn't it?). We decide when to strike, we can either swing our sword in berseker rage and finish on enemy's shield or we can wait for their strike, block it and make fast counter. I haven't been using spells or archery, but from what I've experienced it's as awesome as melee fighting (You can use slow-motion dragon shout just to aim better). Despite that, fighting isn't all that flawless, I don't know if it's console-way-times or just me, but the quick-action menu (Q) is pretty annoying when I have to open it, select spell, use it and then open it again to pick my sword. I don't know maybe you can assign it to numbers, which would be cool.
Game engine feels like being ripped from Fallout 3, because sometimes I had that feeling - hey it's running in wastelands all over again. But I forgot about it very fast. Graphic level isn't Battlefield 3 like, but it doesn't mean Skyrim is ugly. You couldn't be more wrong. I know how people are all like - NAAAAH, I don't care about graphic in RPG game, the STORY FTW! But how much more neatly is it to play nice-looking game. Skyrim shows us cold-nordic places which aren't very colorful. They're dark and mysterious. Many times we enter forest in middle of blizzard, surrounded by snowed trees, and monsters just waiting to kill us. But Skyrim have beautiful places as well. I caught myself few times just standing on top of mountain, looking down the valley and admiring the landscape with epic songs in my ears. Music changes if we're fighting something big and something epic - like dragons. It feels like game changes to Riddley Scott mode and serve us big cup of epic-drink. Furthermore TESV isn't following Dragon Age 2 mistake and don't generate dungeons by copy-paste method. Here every cave is different, every-single-one has it's own story, illuminated by torches, with monsters waiting for us after next corner...or just behind us.
But not everything in Bethseda's newest production isn't all rainbows and unicorns. In my case, I've been often shown that it's mean, dark place which will slap us in the face frequently. I'm talking about bugs and glitches. Biggest and most annoying are crashes, and I don't mean one per two hours I mean crash after crash, like 10 in 30 minutes. It is really, REALLY fuckin annoying. I know Betsheda games are known for their crash-nature, but here it's too much. I had to make quick-save every five steps just not to do something all over again (at the end I quick-saved even in middle of fights). Sometimes quests just bugged out and didn't wanted to appear in quest-log as finished, or dialogue didn't showed up. NPC were also a pain when they got stuck on a rock or in doors. But there is no rock which will resist FUS RO DAH poke.
TESV: Skyrim is fully functional RPG game, which show us that in our times you can make great, long, nonlinear game. But Skyrim takes a step further and give us all that wrapped in awesome audio-visual package. Despite all that great things I can say about this game, the whole picture is broken by crashes which lower final score pretty hard. So for me it's 8/10 but if Bethseda will fix most of the problems in upcoming (today) patch, you can rise it to 9,5/10 and give.