The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Review (PS3)

I will start this review by making a disclaimer: I have not ‘finished’ Skyrim in the tradtional sense. Normally I will only review a game once I have finished it, in the interests of fairness.

However, as you’ll see when you read the below – I’m not sure if I’ll *ever* finish playing Skyrim.

Not because the game is bad – quite the opposite – but because, well… to be honest… I’ve never played anything like it.

That’s a fairly big claim to make as someone who has been playing games for over 25 years.

The content itself isn’t unique. It’s a first person, middle earth type Elves and Orcs affair in which you pick from a selection of races and build your character to take into the World.

There are swords, axes, maces, spells and potions.

While the gameplay is enjoyable and the mechanics are well designed (the combat is clunky for sure but it works) this isn’t anything surprising or revolutionary.

What Bethesda have done an amazing job on is making Skyrim feel like a blank canvas for your character.

It’s this aspect of the game that is like nothing else I’ve ever played. You could have a thrilling, intense gaming experience for tens of, possibly hundreds of, hours without even doing much in the way of the ‘main storyline.’

This is a game where exploring and doing side quests *feels* like the main game. The sense of freedom is intoxicating. Want to become skilled in magic and learn to raise the dead to fight for you? Then ignore the main quest marker and head north for The College Of Winterhold.

That’s what I did and in the (real-time) hours it took me to trek all the way up there on foot I encountered more and had a better gaming experience than some other titles provide in a main playthrough.

Graphically the game looks really nice, considering the sheer size of Skyrim. In particular the effects on the spells look great. Some of the character models do look a bit strange but for me it just adds to the feeling of being in an alien world.

I can’t speak much with regard to the main story, I have done a handful of those quests but the majority of my 20+ hours has been a self-created adventure with some truly memorable events.

A word of warning though – Skyrim has been plagued with issues. Bugs, game crashes etc. I personally have experienced no issues whatsoever but a lot of people have so it would be remiss of me not to mention them. The game has been patched several times so hopefully these problems have now gone.

If you’re looking for a game to sink hours and hours into then Skyrim is perfect for you. The sense that you can go anywhere and do anything is unlike anything else out there. This isn’t a game to play for a quick blast but if you can invest the time you won’t regret it.

Rating: 10/10

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Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull – Review (Film)

Oh Indy. Somewhere along the line you’ve been replaced in our hearts by Nathan Drake. The answer isn’t to make a film that feels like I’m watching a selection of cut scenes from Uncharted 😦

I had high hopes for The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull. I loved the previous three Indiana Jones films and Die Hard 4.0 turned out kind of ok, right?

Unfortunately this movie feels like a cash in. There were a few highlights but the whole thing just felt decidedly average. I’m willing to look past the fact that Harrison Ford is probably too old to play Indy now (hell The Expendables was enjoyable and Sly, Arnie et al are in their twlight years 😆 ) but this just didn’t feel like an Indy film.

Maybe that’s nostalgia talking and if I try to force my rose tinted glasses off for a moment what do I see? An average, big budget, blockbuster with a, frankly, ludicrous ending (even for an Indy film).

I wouldn’t say don’t watch this but just set your expectations low. You might enjoy Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull but sadly this is nowhere near the quality of the other Indy films.

Rating: 5/10

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Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Review (PS3)

As someone who really enjoyed the original Deus Ex when it arrived on the PS2, I was pretty excited when a prequel for the PS3 was announced.

After watching numerous trailers and gameplay clips it became apparent that Eidos had worked hard to capture the feel of the previous titles.

One thing I will mention at the outset is that Deus Ex: Human Revolution takes it’s inspiration from an older time in gaming. This is a hard game. Limited ammo and some punishing AI can make for a frustrating experience, even on Normal. Especially at first if, like me, you end up running and gunning as you would in other FPS games.

Running and gunning is an option. It’s just a more risky strategy than taking the non confrontational approach.

But that in a nutshell is the beauty of Deus Ex. There is almost always a whole host of ways to approach situations – depending on what augmentations you choose.

Ok, let me back up a bit here – for those who don’t know, augmentations are cybernetic enhancements that the people of 2027 are choosing to have to improve their quality of life.

So people are choosing, for example, to have their hand removed and replaced with a ‘better’ cybernetic replacement. This has led to a political war on whether it’s morally right to perform these operations. The case for is not helped by recipients then having to take high cost drugs for the rest of their life so their body doesn’t reject the new part.

You play as Adam Jensen, who works security at Sarif Industries – a biotechnology firm specialising in human cybernetic enhancement. Whilst preparing for Sarif’s appearance at the ‘National Science Board’ the building is attacked by augmented mercenaries and while trying to protect his scientist girlfriend, Adam is severely injured.

Patched up using new cybernetic augmentations that don’t require anti-rejection drugs, Adam returns to action 6 months later with Megan and several other colleagues having died in the attack.

You are tasked with looking into who was behind the attack and sent to sort out a hostage situation at one of Sarif’s indutrial plants.

And from there your horizon broadens dramatically with a whole host of choices (and consequences) that will keep you entertained for hours.

Deus Ex is a fairly long game and one I’d recommend sticking with. As I mentioned before, the beginning of the game can seem unnaturally punishing but it’s just that Deus Ex can’t effectively be played the way you might normally approach a shooter.

One thing I would suggest is to level up Hacking when you can. I’m loathe to influence anyone’s decisions for the game but I hit several blocks where I just wished I could’ve had an easier time hacking certain objects.

The story is good and there are a selection of endings (4 I think?) depending on your actions throughout the course of the game.

Deus Ex is something I’d recommend to people looking for something different and wanting a challenge. Eidos certainly did a great job – this *isn’t* just another shooter, so if that’s what your looking for your time will be wasted here.

Rating: 8/10

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