[PS3] TES V: Skyrim


I had a busy weekend with one of my groups of friends I’ve known since living here celebrating an early Christmas, then play dates the kids were having  but I did manage to squeeze in some time with Skyrim on the PS3.

I’ll open by saying I somewhat regret getting the game on the PS3 for a couple of reasons, the one reason I expected wasn’t the case; controls. I actually got on with the PS3 controller just fine (still doesn’t beat a mouse and keyboard for ranged combat though).

The first issue I had was the resolution didn’t fit with my TV (42″ widescreen) so I had to adjust it because I was missing part of the UI. Simple enough, but the I had a hard time seeing the text. It was sort of small. I fixed that by pulling a chair up closer to the screen.

The second issue I had was with the loading. Lots of loading – well, a lot more than I’m used to seeing on the computer.

The third issue was the gaming hanging. It hung on me twice so far. Once on a loading screen and another time just while walking from from one place to another.

Another issue, I’m not sure is limited to PS3, was the NPC AI. In some places it works quite well. My companion trailed along behind me and engaged at appropriate times with appropriate weapons (pulling out a bow to shoot someone up on a bridge). I even had a second NPC along that actually armed himself from weapons lying around.

The place the AI fails is with the traps. The traps are pretty neat. I’ve seen spear traps, darts, falling boulders, dropping spiked balls (don’t be a child, yes, I wrote, “balls”), spiked iron grids that swing out at you, fire jets spewing from the walls and great big blades on a pendulum.

The last one was what did my companion in (the other companion died against some bandits). I was wandering through are barrow when there was a series of these swinging blades. I timed my way through getting nicked at the end then turned to see my companion get knocked aside and stuck on the side of the wall, unable to get through a door.  She ended up stuck there, unable to move because if she did, she’d get knocked back to the corner.

Of course, I think my swinging an axe to try to destroy the trap and accidentally hitting her instead is what finished her off but there were no witnesses so I’m still going to blame the AI for getting her in that mess to begin with.

When I got back to Whiterun (I think it was called), I bought a house and found a nice room all done up in the top floor. I went to rest there (since it was the only room with any nice furniture) but the bed was flagged as owned by someone else.

Ah yes, my poor dead companion. It’s too bad even though I was her master and she was dead, I could not claim her bed in my own house I purchased after she was already dead.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the game is fantastic! Just a few hold ups, failings in the AI with regards to traps and I missed using mouse and keyboard.

I decided to start over which made me sad because I had already acquired two words, fought two dragons and was almost to the point of talking with the Graybeards. My first restart was a Khajit Rogue but I sidelined it as it’s not the type of gameplay I’m comfortable with using a PS3 controller (aiming with a bow, ick)  so I had another restart (not too far in) which brought me back to playing another Nord Warrior.

I did find it interesting that they did away with their system of custom classes, instead you don’t seem to have much control over your attribute growth (no points assigned per level) and your class (Warrior, Rogue or Mage) determines which kinds of skills increase quicker. It does still seem to be based on skill increases and the XP bar is a little more obvious. You still have the freedom to learn magic, perform alchemy and sneak about – in effect, it’s a game without predefined classes still and you can be a hybrid if you choose.

All the typical races are open to you and the NPCs do respond to you accordingly. I’ve always been a fan of the Nords so I had not problem with playing one. I even settled on recreating the character the completed the very first game (Arena).

The perk system doesn’t quite work like it did in Fallout. You get a point each level to assign to one of the skills. Doing so lets you customize it somewhat. The points are tiered and require you to have a certain level of skill to assign or increment the values in it.

For example, the one handed weapon tree starts with a simple ‘Armsman’ perk that increases the damage you do with one handed weapons by 20% per point (5 points available). The first point requires you to have 15 skill (I think) before you can assign that point. To be able to assign the second point you need to have 20 in the skill. It’s much the same the farther up the tree you go. The next option open on that tree reduces the stamina cost of swinging one handed weapons. The tier above it allows you to add specialization; one causes bleed damage with axes, the other increases the critical strike chances with blades, another increases the armor value ignored by blunt weapons and the fourth grants you extra reward for using two weapons.

Each of the trees grows like this adding more value for having spent the points in the skill tree. The requirement to have your skill at a certain value before you can assign more points works well to force you to spread those perk points out.

I didn’t delve too much into magic, but I couldn’t resist pulling out a flame spell and using it to light oil on the ground to incinerate some enemies. I could have used a bow to shoot a lamp down and ignite it that way but I’m lacking precision with the PS3 controller.

I really haven’t ventured too far off the beaten path because it is a little more difficult to do in Skyrim since there are a lot of mountains. I haven’t seen as many dungeon locations as I had seen in Oblivion, but I did stumble over a couple that were interesting and different to explore. I suspect I’m following the story line more than exploring or doing side quests.

I did notice some factions were available to join. It seems you can join the Imperial Order, Mages’ Guild or the rebels (Stormcloaks) but I haven’t actually done any of it yet. I think you can also join a bard school but I’m not sure. It was an optional quest that appeared early on. One group I can confirm joining, because I did, was the Companions. A mercenary group the works out of a longhouse in Whiterun. I only did the one task so far and I’m not sure I followed exactly what was going on, but it involved beating up an innkeeper to encourage him to do something – I’m not sure what.

There are odd jobs available outside of joining a group too. I believe you’re given a bounty early in the game if you ask around. You also get a short quest to recover a family sword from some thieves (mammoth poachers). Another one involves getting sap from a tree to fix up a tree that is dying in Whiterun.

I think I did the first quest out of order because when I got to Whiterun I was tasked with getting a stone from the barrow I recovered a golden claw from. I already had the stone on me because I thoroughly explored the barrow. The quest caught this and allowed me to hand over the stone which lead me to the first dragon encounter shortly thereafter.

Overall, I’m really enjoying the game and can’t wait to get  back at it.

Now I just have to remember to get into the habit of saving often. That’s one thing MMOs ruin for you, remembering where and when to save. All too often (in single player RPG games) I forget to save then end up  having some sort of mishap where I have to load my last saved games from two hours ago.

Another thing I miss about having the game on the PC, there is usually a quicksave button.

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