Skyrim. As with any game, there are positives and negatives about this one. Let me start out with the positives. The world of Skyrim is freakin' huge. Ginormous even. There are tons of things to see and do...tons of quests to fulfill. The world is beautifully rendered and the artwork is spectacular. I mean, how cool is it that when I'm hanging out in the northern reaches of Skyrim, kickin' a frost troll's ass at night, there's the freakin' aurora borealis?! There is so much attention to detail that you just don't see in a lot of games. And each dungeon, cave, fortress, etc...is unique. There's none of that repetitious crap that the makers of Dragon Age II gave us (that totally pissed me off, but it's another rant for another article...).
The controls are easy to deal with. It's not like some games where you have to @!$%# around with the L or R stick, press X, hold down R2 and put your ankle behind your neck in order to execute a bad-ass power attack. It's pretty straight forward, and for these gimped up lumps of flesh on my hands called fingers, that's a good thing.
You can have a first-person or third-person view and depending on the situation you're in (combat versus exploring) you can easily and quickly switch between the two. Much coolness with that.
You can also swap from bow to greatsword to fireball spell quickly by choosing them from your drop-down favorites menu. I LOVE that. I LOVE the fact that I can equip my bow of flame, get all down and sneaky and take out an ice mage at 50 feet (BOO-yah!!!)...and then switch to my dual weapons to slice up a few lurking bandits. @!$%# YOU BANDITS!!!
Regardless of the type of character you want to develop, you can equip any type of armor, weapon, or spell (as long as you learn it). There is no character path the way you're used to seeing it. During the initial character development phase, you don't have to choose between rogue, ranger, paladin, etc. Your character will develop along the path that you choose by virtue of the type of armor, weaponry, and/or spells that you employ. The more you use it, the faster it develops.
And... OH. EM. GEE!! You get to ride horses too! You can either buy them or...well...steal them, if that's how you roll. And the entire mounting/dismounting/riding is so freakin' realistic looking. I LOVE that!
Lots of auto-saving. So if you forget to save and get killed, generally you can find a auto-save fairly close to the point you want to be. That still doesn't mean you shouldn't save often.
Now to the negatives...and I wouldn't necessary call them negatives, but depending on the type of gameplay you like, they could be. So...off we go.
You can only take one companion with you. And you can't develop that one companion either. So, they don't level up per se. You don't get to decide which attributes you want them to improve, you don't get to decide what spells they use. They are extremely one-dimensional.
There is no real interaction with your companion either, unlike what you see in Dragon Age or Mass Effect (those games have spoiled me as far as that goes). I mean, you can tell them to go open that trunk or kill that guy, but there isn't any real "conversation".
The decisions you make in the world don't really have any bearing on how NPCs treat you. Unless you...like...murder a kid...and then everyone is after your ass. What I'm saying is that there really isn't a "decision tree", so to speak.
You can accidentally kill your companion in combat. Like...this one time...? I was surrounded by stupid wisps and I was spinning around and what does Janessa do? She steps RIGHT in front of my @!$%#ing sword of frost! WHAT? Get the hell out of my WAY, dammit!!!
Occasional game freezes. Some articles I've read say issues start at around 90 hours of gameplay. Mine started at around 30. It's infrequent but still maddening when it happens.
I adore the non-linearness (is that even a word??) of the game, but the number of quests and side quests can get a bit overwhelming. So, someone like me who has anxiety issues over too many choices has to break it down into manageable tasks. Because right now? If I think about how many quests are available to me, I'll just LOSE IT!!!
Now that I've listed out what I feel are the gameplay positives and negatives, I'd like to discuss my own personal experience with Skyrim.
So get this...I hire this dark elf mercenary named Janessa (WHAT? That sounds like a WASP from Manhattan) and she's all "We are one of a kind, you and I". And who can resist that, right? So I go all soft for Janessa even though she's got creepy red eyes. And I think, "Hey, I'm going to check out the marriage track that Skyrim has given us!" So I marry this Janessa chick and suddenly she turns into a big, giant, oozing pile of SUBMISSIVENESS!
Yeah, she decides that now she's married to me, she's gonna open up a store! And I'm like, "What? @!$%# THAT, bitch! Go make me a pie!" So she not only makes me a pie, she tells me that she'll have another one ready for tomorrow! And then I figure I'll ask her about whether her stupid store made any money, and she's all, "It has. Here is your half... love..." And it's only 100 gold pieces!
Seriously?? 100 gold pieces?? I make more money in an hour going through the pockets of a high-elf @!$%#face of a mage that I just killed than she gives me from her @!$%#ing STORE! So here I am thinking this bitch has got my back in combat, when all she really cares about is getting more inventory for that STORE! GOD!!!
And on top of that? The stuff I give her to hold on for me because I've got too much on my plate and need a hand? THAT's the stuff that's goes into her store! Like I'm gonna buy my own @!$%# back?! Oh no... not even CLOSE!
@!$%# you, Janessa!
Oh...and in relating to the accidental killing above? I accidentally killed a kid. She was really getting on my nerves so I pulled my greatsword of thunderbolts on her thinking I would scare her. Well, she wasn't impressed and she lipped off but I decided to take the high road and walk away. But instead of sheathing my weapon, I took her head off! I accidentally pressed the wrong button!! WHAT??!!