BnBGaming’s Game of the Year 2011:
– The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim –
Though Skyrim made it to only one of our writers’ final game of the year picks, it was a very close call for many others. In its first week of release, Skyrim left BnBGaming a veritable ghost town, and to this day, we’re sure that any sag in productivity can be blamed on sneaky disappearances into the frozen homeland of the Elder Scrolls‘ Nords for new adventures and discoveries, looting cursed tombs and reaping the souls of fallen dragons.
Skyrim remains a technical masterpiece with a sense of scale and longevity that only Bethesda can claim to have truly tamed. The game offers hundreds of hours of questing and journeying, and those hundreds of hours may never be filled with the same thing, nor serve to advance the main narratives in any way. The land of Skyrim is yours to do with what you will and the possibilities are almost limitless. Never has a game offered so much freedom.
That’s not to say it isn’t flawed – it is. Our review declared the setting and main story arc derivative and clichéd, the introduction of marriage and children hollow, Fable-esque attempts at deeper NPC interaction, and the action-oriented combat still largely disconnected and unsatisfying; others complained of jarring animation, disappointing cities and towns and the new stripped-down UI. (And lest we forget the whopping great hive of bugs.) But to let these niggles stand in the way of the wider experience would be to overlook the finer facets of an Elder Scrolls game – the potential for stories in a virtual world unique to you, in an artificial world enlivened by townsfolk going about their market stalls and forges, wolves hunting deer in forests, unscrupulous highwaymen pouncing on travellers for coin, and a beautifully designed landscape steeped in meticulously plotted history, culture, philosophy and mythology.
Skyrim combines that ever-sought sense of childlike wonder with immense satisfaction for the eyes, the ears and the mind, and for that, Bethesda cannot be commended enough.
Update: For a cheap gaming laptop that can run Skyrim for under $500 read our guide here.