The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim may single-handedly bring back the single player experience to the forefront.  Much hype and pressure has been placed on the multiplayer experience – especially with two giant games released this year in Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 but what about those who just want to enjoy something on their own?  Batman Arkham City is a fantastic single-player game but still feels like a video game in which you are simply connecting the dots with a cut scene here and a fight scene there.  The Elder Scrolls series has always been known for exploration and wonder and Skyrim is the biggest achievement yet in the franchise.  It may or may not be a ‘perfect game’ as that will always be left up to opinion but it may just be the biggest and most rewarding experience you have in 2011 as a video gamer.

We’ve been following Skyrim all year long with interviews from their team at E3 2011 and a hands-on preview of the game in October 2011.  Skyrim offers an excellent role-playing action sandbox experience.  The game allows you to play in your own style and crafts the rewards according to how you play the game.  If you prefer melee weapons over ranged then your character will level up to match these skills.  Skyrim has improved upon the graphics, weather and overall RPG world experience.  The world is enormous with tons of content to explore (and most likely more to come as DLC) and probably one of the most rewarding parts of the game is the cinematic music score that accompanies you through the game.

Fears we had early on about combat, especially hand-to-hand, are still around and fighting up close can be clunky – however this time around Bethesda allows you to play in third-person making it easier to see the action around you and counter more swiftly.  The majority of fighting retains that ‘walk up – swing your sword – then run backwards’ feel to it but this time around you can navigate your inventory to swap items in and out on the fly turning every outcome into something more strategic then the last.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has many achievements but two that will most likely stand the test of time is the fact that this game will appeal to both men and women and its endless supply of dragons. Like most great RPG games Skyrim allows you to create and customize your character male or female and while the game includes action packed elements of brute strength there is always a perfect balance of exploration, alchemy and learning new abilities.  Quests in the game are given to you by both males and females and both sexes will accompany you from time to time as you complete a challenge. 

Skyrim will also be known for its dragons – they show up everywhere.  Both Dragon Age II and Dark Souls had dragons but there’s something about the ones in Skyrim that really make the hairs on your arm stand up.  The animation and mystery of their attacks are so well crafted that one could easily get caught up in their allure and forget to draw their own sword.  Unfortunately, most of the dragons we faced weren’t all that smart and had a tendency to stay on the ground long enough for us to hack and slash our way to their death – no wonder they became extinct.

We played The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on the Xbox 360 and it looked and sounded fantastic – the game is also available for Windows PC and the PlayStation 3 from Bethesda.  We’ve provided some gameplay footage of us going on quests for you to judge for yourself if Skyrim should be considered one of the top games in 2011.

Retrieve The Horn of Jurgen Windcaller Quest
Staff of Magnus Quest
Dustman’s Cairn Quest
Bandit Quest
Visit the Shrine of Azura Quest