The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Review (PS3) – The first three days

Image is not the property of Entertainment Maven

I love video games, I grew up on them. From The Secret of Monkey Island and the original Wolfenstein, to more recently hacking my way through the unforgiving world of  Demon’s Souls\Dark Souls and trolling around on the Playstation Network to download the latest releases; my experience is storied. However, I have patience, and as a result I’m not very likely to buy a $60 game when it’s released. I’d love to, don’t get me wrong, but I need a place to live, and I need food in my belly. I’ve had to change this philosophy with the release of Dark Souls and Skyrim. These two hotly anticipated RPGs are from experienced developers with a lot of cred – sure some people are down on Bethesda for releasing glitch filled games with cumbersome menus, but with Skyrim they may have finally released the product they have been envisioning for all of these years.

I’ve always anticipated the release of the next Elder Scrolls game, although I have to be honest, I’ve never completed the main storyline of a single entry in the series up to this day. I find with lengthy video games in general, that it is near impossible to maintain the level of quality and intrigue over the course of a 30-60 hour adventure. I often find myself enthralled with the fictitious world of a game (Oblivion, Fallout 3, Mass Effect) and the sheer possibilities in front of me, but these options quickly become commonplace as many missions and character molds make repeat appearances throughout the course of the journey. One of my biggest problems with the previous Elder Scroll games was my inability to find a monster that was much bigger than my character. Everyone seemed roughly the same size. I need surprise and variety! Without it, I may still enjoy the game, and praise it, but I won’t finish it. I think Skyrim is about to break this pattern.

Minor SPOILERS

In a mere three days, I have been witness to a dizzying number of unique events in the wondrous world of Skyrim. After being attacked by emotionally tortured ghosts, acting against their will, I discovered a necromancer’s devious operation in which an empty treasure chest and a trap door led adventurers to fall and break their bones in the depths of his experimental laboratory. I’ve traveled to the cold and barren north, in search of a small prison in order to free a political inmate, only to be turned away – the elven-armour clad guards weren’t so rude after I decided to kill them all single-handedly as comeuppance for their lack of manners. I’ve been challenged to a drinking competition in a small town bar, accepted, blacked out, and then found myself in a Hangover style adventure to figure out what the hell happened. I’ve killed a coven of vampires, contracted the beginnings of the disease myself, and narrowly escaped a fate worse than death. Oh, I also kill dragons with my mace.

I’m kind of a big deal.

My point is that Skyrim has finally broken the open world problem with generic quests, monsters, and environments, no doubt at the expense of painstaking writing, designing, and programming. In Skyrim you can literally do whatever you want, but most importantly, you can do it in one of the most beautiful, detailed, interesting, and dangerous game worlds that has ever been created.

I want to touch briefly on the technical aspects of the game. Some glitches are still present, and I’m beginning to think it’s an inevitability with a gaming environment this vast. It would be nice if corpses didn’t fall from the sky like rag dolls, and if I didn’t get stuck behind a ladder and a barrel that one time, but taken as a whole, Skyrim doesn’t seem to be glitch-ridden. Also, the menu and favourite system is a welcome addition that allows the user to switch through spells, weapons, and armour with ease.

In closing, if you have a child, an important job, or family/relationship problems, DO NOT  invest in Skyrim.

You won’t be able to put the controller down.

Anyone one else out there playing Skyrim? How are you finding the game so far? Is this Bethesda’s best Elder Scrolls entry yet?

Demon’s Souls Ps3 – One of the hardest and most addictive games ever made

Cover art from Demon's Souls is not the property of Entertainment Maven

The Entertainment Maven started off as a resource for all things entertaining, and it still is to some extent, but it has become clear that my major area of focus will be genre films. I just never anticipated how much fun it would be to immerse myself in the film world. However, that does not mean that I will completely shed the idea of reviewing other forms of entertainment. True to my word, I dug back a couple of years in the Playstation 3 archives to share with you one of the greatest video games I have ever played in my life; Demon’s Souls.

Demon’s Souls was developed by From Software and published by Atlus. I personally love both of these companies, From Software, for their wonderfully immersive dungeon hack-and-slash romps, King’s Field 1 & 2 for Playstation 1, and Atlus, for being one of the best publishers over the years of Japanese strategy role playing games, Disgaea for example, that companies were convinced North American audiences would not enjoy. Demon’s souls is an action-RPG in which you singlehandedly take on a horde of demons that have decided to make the land of Boletaria their personal soul harvesting ground. It is up to you to stop them, and if you fail, don’t worry, it will only cost you your immortal soul.

When you pop Demon’s Souls into your system and sit down to play, make sure you have the rest of the day free, for two reasons. Firstly, the game mechanics are tight, the graphics and environments beautiful and in game accomplishments are intrinsically rewarding for the individual with the controller in their hands. You don’t just play the game to get to the next level. This makes putting down the controller a very difficult thing to do. You’ll think, ‘Why should I go to school/work/the gym when I am accomplishing something real and truly important at home?’

The second reason why you should free up your day before playing Demon’s Souls is that you are going to die. A lot. With approximately 25 levels of monsters to fight through, you will be one of the lucky ones if you die less than twenty times a level. This may sound completely demoralizing, and death is as frustrating as it always has been, but I assure you that with most deaths comes increased motivation to level the score with these ghastly demons.

If you like RPGs and you’re willing to give a difficult game a shot, then pick up Demon’s Souls for PS3. It can be found for a fraction of the cost of a new release game. Also, the sequel Dark Souls, sure to be one of the best games released in 2011, is set to come out in October. It would be an impossible task to hope to survive in Dark Souls for more than a second, without the prerequisite skills that need to be picked up in Demon’s Souls.

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