Introducing Nit’s Notes (Warning: Snark, satire, and nitpicking can and will occur in the process of reading this post)
December 14, 2011
Hello, I am Nit
I am here to talk to you about the elephants you seem to have turned a blind eye to. Lets start with the most obese yet ignored of them all:
Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Now I am a great fan of RPGS. I played KotOR 2 enough times to min-max my best Sith character to be able to beat the final boss fight in the time it takes FOX news to get a fact mixed with fiction. Yes, -that- fast. I’ve got Mass Effect 2 for both PS3 and PC. I eagerly await getting to play more of Deus Ex: Human Revolution (unfortunately real-life always gets in the way). And then, I turn my eye to the wannabe kid in the corner. Yes, I’m talking about the Elder Scrolls series. I have so far played roughly 14 hours of Oblivion (nearly 20 if you count playing a friend’s PC copy), and maybe an hour and a half of Skyrim. The sad thing is, I can’t tell the difference besides graphics and the character creation screen backgrounds. That is the -only- different. The characters are being held prisoner in the uncanny valley, the combat is tediously unrealistic and stick like, the inventory’s concept of “weight” at first sounds neat, but then feels like a shot to the foot the second you actually play it out in practice. There is seemingly no place to safely keep your gear that isn’t extremely out of the way, so you have to sell or drop whatever you can’t carry. The AI interactions are atrocious — I kill a chicken, and suddenly I’m Bin Laden. I accidentally “steal” a horse owned by a faction I’m allied with, and the NPC I just spent an hour protecting comes at me, throwing every spell he can at me. How the heck does this make sense on a design document? I’ve not even gotten to the hundreds of glitches that are always in Bethesda games, and it seems like these two games should have tanked. How it is that everyone sees past the issues in this series while games like Oni, XIII, and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories are shoved aside, just for trying to be original, is baffling. I’ve probably played Shattered Memories three times as much as Skrim and Oblivion combined. Why? Because Shattered Memories’ only failing was “not appealing to everyone”. And then a game like Amnesia uses almost the exact same game design ideas, and makes huge sales.
*Breathes in* but we’re getting off topic here
Skyrim is Oblivion with a new coat of paint and even worse hair models, without a doubt. The new additions like a “more user friendly” (aka, -more confusing than ever-) inventory system, dual wielding that somehow exists in a world where two swords cannot block an attack, a story that is even more pointless, alien, and disconnected (when will Bethesda learn that we are more invested in a story if you actually give us a motivation besides being ordered or asked to do something?). The environmental navigation it a matter of jumping in the right diagonal line for each mountain, magic is still more effective than arrows or swords, NPCs still give you that creepy vacant stare, there is no middle ground between fighting and talking (unlike in Deus Ex: Human Revolution), and while the environment looks nice, it doesn’t necessarily appear to be living naturally.
So what does the Elder Scrolls series have going for it at this point? Frankly, just realistic first person platforming (it’s not Mirror’s Edge but at least it’s something) and dungeons. Oh and “details” as someone once argued to me. Forgive me, but what good are details when there’s nothing there besides them?!
*Breathes in again* now to end this
I want to make two things clear before I go further — I wanted desperately to like the Elder Scrolls games. I heard so much praise, so many pleased reviews, that I thought maybe someone had finally cracked making a true sandbox RPG. As of present though, it’s really just a sandbox game pretending to be an RPG. If I wanted just a sandbox game, I would have gotten Just Cause 2, or I’d go back to playing Red Faction: Guerilla (which we will be talking about in the future. I hope you just “love” courier missions!). So, that’s all for now, but I will return!
*Goes to hide under desk before Fallen returns*