Video Game Reviews – February 2012

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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Bethesda Softworks
Reviewed on: PS3
Also on: PC, Xbox 360
Street: 11.11.11
Introducing the capabilities of the Creation engine, Bethesda has drastically altered the scope of first-person action RPGs with their Elder Scrolls franchise. The fifth game in this series, Skyrim, represents the most comprehensive and complete Elder Scrolls experience, a fully realized and open world, populated with endless sidequests and distractions. Each time you sit down with the game, you’ll find numerous opportunities to explore the land of Skyrim and its vast territory. Weather and environments within the region change often, and its tall mountains and snowy forests hide numerous dungeons, enemies and treasures. Every hidden corner of the world is part of the story, with a deep and comprehensive system of stories to lead you through a world that constantly changes around you. The team at Bethesda takes great pains to justify each diversion, and as you complete quests, they lead seamlessly into a network of further adventures and assignments from the various factions in the game. As you travel from place to place, you can chart your character’s progress in the form of constellations, based on the skills you use throughout the game. Whether you follow a strict course along a string of quests, or simply choose a direction and start walking, Skyrim’s extensive network of dungeons and landmarks demands to be explored. You may find yourself spending countless hours convincing yourself that the next dungeon you explore is going to be your last, but as you inevitably ignore this impulse and leap headlong into your next adventure, you’ll find that each twist in the tale you spin along the way feels natural and real. Every detour works its way into the game’s broad, nebulous narrative, leaving you in charge of how best to live the legend of the Dragonborn. –Henry Glasheen

Rage
id Software
Reviewed on: PC
Also on: Xbox 360, PS3
Street: 10.04.11
I’m sure I don’t only speak for myself when I say that Wolfenstein 3D was the first glorified killing simulator that really made my eyes twinkle. Cruising through 60 levels of Castle Wolfenstein, mowing down Nazi after disgusting Nazi with my chain-gun never once got old. Nearly 20 years later, Rage is released to millions of drooling, bloodthirsty shooter fans worldwide. As expected, Rage is fucking gorgeous. With sweeping desert canyons, impeccable facial detail and some damn sexy weaponry, the graphics are pushing even more boundaries than you’d expect for a release such as this. Every time you pick up a new gun, your character looks it over and seems to be in almost as much wonder as you are as he flips it over and brushes over its curves, pawing at its sight and magazine. Speaking of guns, the firefights in Rage are an absolute blast. The weapons all have an absolutely perfect feel to them, all with the right amount of flash, bang, kickback and recoil. It’s a good thing Rage perfects the simple firefight so well, because all other aspects of the game just aren’t up to snuff with modern day shooters. The storyline is thinner than an anorexic hooker and the characters lack any development or emotional depth. Racing and vehicular combat are minor parts of Rage, but they both lack polish and get tedious after a few rounds. Despite all of its flaws, when judged through the lens of a modern day video game, Rage still leaves me with a shit-eating grin every single time I play it. I might not get a life-changing storyline out of it, but its gun-slinging couldn’t possibly get any better, and that alone is worth the $30 or $40 pricetag (if bought online). –Ross Solomon

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