Posts tagged ‘skyrim’

December 11, 2011

Mortar and Pistol’s Game of the Year

Spike just held their Video Game Awards, and Skyrim walked away with Game of the Year for 2011.  And it is no surprise, it was easily the most anticipated game in years, and it certainly lived up to the hype.  But while Spike is nothing more than a simple blog (or so I’ve heard), we here at Mortar and Pistol realize that our Game of the Year award is far more prestigious and coveted, and comes with far less award money.  In fact, rumor has it that Bethesda and the rest have never heard of us.  Regardless, below I give you my game of the year, but first:

Honorable Mention – Mortal Kombat

With an incredible franchise history spanning nearly two decades, the Mortal Kombat series has developed a very dedicated fan base of all ages.  It was the catalyst for the creation of the ESRB and the cause of countless parents realizing not all video games were OK for their precious snowflakes to be playing.  Uppercuts continued to be great in all walks of life, but never as sweet without a “Toasty!” accompanying it.  This year’s reboot and newest incarnation took us back to our MK roots and built on everything that made the series great, while leaving all the crappy innovations behind.  Coupled with some great DLC, Mortal Kombat ’11 helped make 2011 one of the best years in gaming we’ve ever seen.  Though it was released the day the Playstation Network went down, once it was back up and running the online fighting proved to be some of the most fun and addicting of any fighting game on the market.  I still can’t hit a possum in the street without stopping, rolling down my windows, and shouting “Fatality” before screeching off into the sunset.

Third Place – Batman: Arkham City

Following up on what was already an incredible game, Batman: Arkham City showed us that not only could a Batman video game be good, but that they could be amazing.  With elements from nearly all genres mixed together in perfect harmony, with a simply fantastic story, Batman: Arkham City was impossible to put down from beginning to end.  Where Nolan reinvented the Batman films, Arkham City invents the Batman game.  Detective work that puts L.A. Noire to shame, a fighting system that makes Kratos embarrassed, and a story that makes Dante Alighieri go back to his writing workshop at the community college, this game is a masterpiece.  Even for people that don’t particularly like superheros, this game will have you pausing at every boss fight to search Wikipedia for their back stories.  And when you hear Solomon Grundy recite his nursery rhyme, well, you’ll be growing worse by Friday yourself.

Second Place – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Go ahead and start flaming me in the comments on how this didn’t get first.  Don’t worry, I’m prepared for it.  Regardless, Skyrim is purely an epic game.  One I had been anticipating for years, it lives up to every second of the hype and then some.  When I first saw the world before me, the mountains in the distance capped with fog, the Northern Lights twisting and painting an indescribable landscape, I was stunned.  The game is a worthy addition to the already daunting Elder Scrolls series, and proves that this is a franchise that all others aspire to emulate.  The first night I got it, I played until the sun came up and barely felt like I had done anything in the game.  The first time I stumbled into the Dwemer ruins I was giddy with glee, the nostalgia from Morrowind overwhelming me.  It will be a game I play for so many hours that it should come with a Surgeon General’s warning, and one I’m sure to write more articles about in the future.  I’ve found myself more than once shivering from Mountain Dew excess at 4am, promising myself I’ll go to bed, just one more quest.  It is as engrossing a game as I’ve ever played, and one that you think about playing when you’re not, and even when you’re already playing it.  As far as money’s worth goes, you’ll feel like you owe Bethesda more because $60 wasn’t enough to cover what you’re getting.  I eagerly anticipate upcoming DLC even though my quest menu is still as packed as a hungover prom date’s missed call list.  Skyrim would have taken first easily if it wasn’t for another game this year, one I didn’t really even get excited for, and one I didn’t have too many expectations of.  But once I played it, I realized I had found something special.  And that’s why this year, first goes to:

First Place – Battlefield 3

I knew the big battle this year would be between Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3, but I didn’t realize I’d later be debating between Battlefield 3 and Skyrim for Game of the Year.  I even once posited that MW3 would win out and end up being the better shooter this year.  But Battlefield 3 proved to be something more than just another shooter for the year.  It proved to be more than a game.  It is an experience like none other.  It, in my opinion, is even more engrossing than Skyrim by being just so damn realistic.  The physics of the new Frostbite 2 engine, the incredible sounds of the gunshots and explosions, and the innovations made to the FPS genre all work to make Battlefield 3 not only the best shooter ever made, in my humble opinion, but 2011’s best video game.  Every match is so varied and different and the world is so open to possibilities that each game will leave you with incredible stories to tell.  Need proof?

Play with friends and you will have some awesome experiences to share later on.  DorisfromNoris and I still talk about some epic games we had over a month ago, and we continue to have epic matches today, ones that are so new and different, regardless of if they take place on the same map. Rush is the new breakout mode of gameplay and has risen to become my all time favorite, opening and expanding the maps to sizes I didn’t think I’d ever see in a shooter.  Amazing vehicle physics allow for some incredible gunfights, and the challenging nature of the jets and helicopters make kills with those all the more rewarding.  The fact that this game promotes teamwork so well, allowing one to get tons of points without even getting a kill, all work to make this game more than just a shooter, and create instead a realistic and adrenaline-fueled war experience.  Add to that that DLC has already been released, giving us 4 more maps with tons of new guns and vehicles, this game proves that it isn’t just another installment, but instead a milestone and an achievement.  The realism and detail of the guns makes for an incredibly realistic game that hasn’t even been approached by other games, and the player base of this incredible game only helps to make it such a wonderful experience.  A free Battlelog on the internet that you can use to track stats helps to allow you to obsess about it even when you can’t play, and all this together adds up to what is the best game of this year.  Though Skyrim is captivating and incredible in its own right, the fact that Battlefield can draw me in more than any other media out there makes this game the true champion of 2011.  Grab some caffeine, pull your chair up close to the TV, turn it up louder than your neighbors would like, and jump into a war that will leave you so pumped up that you’ll be scolded by your optometrist for not blinking enough.  ***And I just discovered that if you have BF3, DICE is giving away Battlefield 1943 for free!

Agree?  Disagree?  Leave your comments below and let me know what you think the Game of the Year for 2011 should have been!

November 17, 2011

Animals, Video Games, and PETA

This week Nintendo released Mario 3D Land for the struggling 3DS.  And while many have given the game great reviews, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has come out swinging against them game, claiming that Mario’s Tanooki suit glorifies the wearing of fur and, more specifically, supports the fur industry in Asia, which they claim skins the animals alive.  See, a tanuki is actually a real animal, also known as the Japanese raccoon dog, and its fur is harvested in Japan to make fur coats and other types of clothing.  So PETA, an organization known for its rather outlandish stunts, such as hosting a porn site to promote vegetarianism, has created a Flash game to protest Mario by allowing players to play as a skinned tanuki, chasing Mario to get its bloodied fur back from him.  And while I’m certainly against animal cruelty, I have to wonder about the protesting of “animal cruelty” in games like Mario, where any relation to actual cruelty is tenuous at best and disingenuous at worst.  A tanooki suit may be available in the game, but it takes a special kind of detachment from reality to then assume the game promotes the killing of animals to gain powers they don’t even possess in the first place.   Mario may wear a tanooki suit, but I think it’s a stretch to claim that this:

Promotes the skinning, alive, of these:

Regardless, most sources I’ve read have come out against PETA for its somewhat misplaced focus of attention, and I have to agree.  But it did raise an interesting question in my mind.  What does PETA think of some of the more graphic depictions of violence against animals in video games?

The Battlefield Rat

In Battlefield 3, you find yourself trapped in Iran’s capitol city after a devastating earthquake. While trying to crawl through a ditch to avoid detection, a squeaking rat comes up and starts biting at your fingers.  Rats are nasty, and in this case, can even get you noticed and killed from the noise it’s making.  So you have the option to do what a soldier would be inclined to do, kill the rat lest you be killed.  Now, it’s important to remember that before and after this scene, you are tasked with killing waves and waves of people from all over the world.  You can cut their throats, pepper their faces with a shotgun, or, like any other shooter, simply blast them away as you make your way forward.  And in one level you even kill innocent policemen in the streets of Paris.  But, and don’t be surprised, PETA has ignored the gratuitous people killing and moved on to condemning the game because “Killing virtual animals can have a brutalizing effect on the young male target audience. There have been repeated cases of animal cruelty in Germany, where young people kill animals. Inspiration behind these acts often came from movies and computer games.”

Snitches get stitches?

As I’ve emphatically argued before, violence in video games has never been shown to correlate with violence in real life.  Furthermore, the dubious claim PETA makes, that the inspiration behind acts of animal abuse came from movies and computer games, is shockingly misleading.  Any animal cruelty cases in Germany I was able to find make no mention of any sort of motive at all.  Its doubtful that video games inspired any of these acts, but rather they stem from the fact that they’re fucking Germans.

Red Dead Redemption

I have to preface this by saying that I really am totally against all forms of animal cruelty.  I eat meat, but I don’t think we should treat food animals poorly, and we especially shouldn’t treat pets or even wild animals badly.  Hearing about some kid burning cats or some lady hoarding dogs makes me sick to my stomach.  But unlike some people, I realize that video games are not real life, and I think PETA loses tons of credibility for what could otherwise be a good message by attacking video games like those mentioned above.  And so when I sought out PETA’s inevitable complaint about Red Dead Redemption, I was left scratching my head.  As far as I can tell (and I absolutely combed their website), they didn’t utter a peep about Rockstar’s blockbuster hit Red Dead Redemption.  You know, the game where you can shoot and kill countless wild animals, get a trophy for killing one of every type, hunt buffalo to extinction, and then graphically skin the animals for their fur?  Yeah, nothing but silence from them.

The game is pretty historically accurate, especially in the sense that people back then lived off the land and gutted the animals they hunted.  I see nothing controversial about this depiction in Red Dead, but I am stunned, absolutely stunned, that PETA had nothing to say about this.  As an aside, some might claim Red Dead influenced this guy, but my bet is on moonshine:  Man field dresses deer in parking lot, arrested.

Riverwood Chicken

Lastly, it appears the realm of Skyrim may have its own brand of environmentalists in the form of the citizens of Riverwood.  As many people have recently discovered, at the beginning of the game if you kill their chicken, the townspeople flip out.  And they don’t just scold you sternly and post porn on the internet to protest you, oh no.  They arm themselves to the teeth and try to slaughter you.  While its probably just a weird bug, it is nonetheless fun to do if you’re bored.  (Bored in Skyrim?  Yeah, yeah, I know).  So far PETA hasn’t had anything to say about this newest installment of the Elder Scrolls, but there is still plenty of time.  With an open world like this, and tons of animals to kill, I’m sure we’ll hear some grumbling sometime soon.  In the meantime, why don’t you enjoy watching a man try to kill a mammoth with his bare hands, naked.  (Spoiler alert, he loses).

November 16, 2011

Why I Love Skyrim – by Jsixgun

The main reason I love Skyrim is simple; I love a good RPG. I love to define and create my character until they are wholly mine and mine alone. Skyrim lets you do this very well and this article is going to show you exactly what I mean by that. I’m going to tell you a regaling tale of the beginning of my adventure in Skyrim and it starts with a name.

The first thing you have to do in any good RPG is pick a name. To some this is a menial task they wash away on some attempt to be funny or clever, which is fine and well for those people. I assume our own elusive DorisfromNoris would name his character with some sexual provocateur to be certain, and we won’t even get into what he named his Pokemon because I don’t want your cheeks to get red. However, I on the other hand always take my naming very seriously and use it to define my character through story progression. So what did I name my Nord Warrior? Holger Danske. You’re probably wondering what the heck kind of name Holger Danske is; the answer lies within the tales of Charlemagne in an old French poem, Chanson de Geste. While I will save you the history lesson, in short, Holger Danske (also Ogier the Dane depending on who’s writing about him) was a Danish prince who grew up in Charlemagne’s court, won many battles, killed a giant, had a special sword, and did all sorts of fanciful things. His legend claims that he fell asleep in old Kronborg Castle, and sleeps there still until the time that he will wake again to defend the Danish people against a great enemy (pretty cool).

Holger presumably sleeping until the aliens attack Norway.

My Holger? Well he’s no sleeping Arthurian-esque hero; at least not yet. Born into the great Empire of Tamriel, Holger didn’t quite enjoy the persnickety Imperials, not even a little bit. You see Holger’s great-great grandfather was a true Nordic kinsmen of the famed Companions. However, for purely economic reasons his family of blacksmiths moved south into the empire two generations ago, and has been blacksmithing in the south-eastern regions for decades. The Empire, nevertheless, was no place for Holger’s restless heart.  You see, Holger grew up resenting the Imperial taxes and longed for the cold northern skies and his bearded kinsmen. After his father’s untimely death he packed what few belongings he had and decided he would go north, search out the Companions, and find his fate.

Along the way he was mistakenly arrested as a storm cloak rebel and the rest is history currently in process of being written. I will, however, leave you with a bit of prose that defines my Holger well. It comes from the English poet Ted Hughes (credit

The Warriors of the North

Bringing their frozen swords, their salt-bleached eyes,

             their salt-bleached hair,

The snow’s stupefied anvils in rows,

Bringing their envy,

The slow ships feelered Southward, snails

             over the steep sheen of the water-globe.


Thawed at the red and black disgorging of abbeys,

The bountiful, cleft casks,

The fluttering bowels of the women of dead burghers,

And the elaborate, patient gold of the Gaels.


To no end

But this timely expenditure of themselves,

A cash-down, beforehand revenge, with extra,

For the gruelling relapse and prolongueur of their blood


Into the iron arteries of Calvin.

November 16, 2011

On The Subject Of Skyrim, And Other Related Thoughts…

We have all, at some point in our childhoods, been subjected to that joke of a thing they call D.A.R.E.  You know, the drug prevention program that encourages kids to become informants against their parents, the very same program that has been discredited by the government, condemned by the Surgeon General, and been shown to increase drug use in kids that “graduate” from their program.  But if there’s one thing we can take away from our elementary school’s D.A.R.E. officer, its that we shouldn’t do drugs because even one taste will get us addicted.  That first high will be so amazing that the rest of our descent into the gutter will be driven by an attempt to reclaim that now lost initial euphoria.  And while I can’t speak to meth or heroin, I can certainly see some relation in terms of Bethesda’s newest release, an experimental drug that goes by the street name “Skyrim”.

Before and after: The faces of Skyrim

Rambling, attenuated introduction aside, I’ve found myself obsessed with this game ever since its release.  See, I’ve lived under this crippling jones for years now; a futile attempt to reclaim that feeling that Morrowind gave me.  The game was so strange, so amazing in its novelty, and so engrossing that Oblivion couldn’t help but falter under the weight of my expectations.  And considering my expectations for Skyrim were considerably higher, I was under the cautious belief that this game might not be as great as I wanted it to be.  But for the first time in my life, I was happy to be wrong.  Skyrim has reclaimed in me that early sense of awe and immersion that Morrowind offered, while still retaining the improvements and innovation that Oblivion had brought.  That’s why when last night I found myself sitting in a field, eating antlers, watching the Northern Lights flow by, I realized this game will take me forever to “beat”.  And that’s entirely OK to me, because I don’t want it to be over.  I want to find out what weird things lie ahead, and I don’t want any guide or google search to tell me about them.  I have on one disc an entirely untapped world before me, and I intend to discover it myself, all of it, no matter how long it takes.

While I'm at it, I wan't to know why the sky is such a damn show off.

I just can’t put the game down.  It’s like reading the best book ever written, and I co-authored it.  Even the actual books in the game are great to read, and I highly recommend The Theif as a starting point for some of the local lore and fiction.  In terms of worth, it seems like I should be criminally liable to Bethesda for getting so much game for relatively so little.  And as Jsixgun and I have discussed, the game invites you to create your own backstory for your character, in order to develop the motivations for the choices you make in the game.  With that said, let me introduce you to my character, a man by the name of John Sylvester.  Had he been born in a different time, he would have made a wonderful Civil War general.  He may be a coward and as selfish as a baby, but his sideburns alone would more than qualify him.

Equip bushy sideburns?

*Don’t worry, I won’t post any spoilers.*  He’s an Imperial, but has chosen to fight against the Empire.  Unlike most people, who I’ve seen trying to believe they were headed for execution for some silly crime or political purpose, I like to believe ole John here was about to get what he deserved.  But he escaped, and like any fleeing death row inmate, he’s chosen to fight against the country that nearly, and rightly, put him to death in the first place.  Rejected by the Nords because he’s an Imperial, rejected by the Imperials because he’s a savage criminal, he’s started a new life in Skyrim, lying and manipulating people into believing he might just be a good guy.  I started him out trying to be a fighter with heavy armor, but as of now he’s 100% mage.  He also, from time to time, impersonates members of other guilds, makes mad Madoff-style money, and as of yet never breaks the law.  It looks like Mr. Sylvester may have found an OK life, rising through the ranks of a country that hates him because of his race.  It’s a tearjerker story of perseverance and overcoming hardships, except for the fact that he’s really just an awful person underneath it all.

Who, me?

And so last night, after a day of fighting skeletons in some dungeon somewhere, stealing tons of stuff to later fence, I retired in the middle of nowhere to figure out my next move.  The sun set over the river in the distance, John’s eyes bloodshot and wide as the skooma flowed through his veins, and he sat to rest.  I had tons of quests to do, but felt like moving off the beaten path for a while to see what might be out there on that border between Morrowind and Skyrim.  So I stumbled upon someone’s farm, robbed them blind, got chased for about a mile, and ran into a dragon.  I let the dragon kill that dirtbag and then I killed the dragon.  All was right in the world, and karma was good.  Well, except that I was trying oh so hard not to break the law.  Oh well, tomorrow will be a new day.

Oh, and you can totally eat antlers, too

It is this sense of exploration that makes Skyrim so great.  The idea, and underlying truth behind it, that you really don’t know what you’ll find if you just head off in a random direction makes this game enormous in terms of possibility.  Those random explorations, more often than not, lead to storylines, which lead you to new places, which progress the game in such unusual ways that you’re sucked in, addicted, and denying you have a problem before you even know it.  It almost ruins other games for me in terms of just how little content they offer in comparison.  I’m sure I’ll have plenty more to write about Skyrim in the future if for no other reason than its consumed my mind, and every day I want to get home for just one more hit.  And if I can’t be playing it, I might as well be writing about it.  Let me know about your characters in the comments below!

November 14, 2011

Skyrim: First Impressions.

The Elder Scrolls hold a strange place in my imagination.  I avoid the fantasy genre like the plague regardless of what medium it comes in, so it’s strange that a game like Skyrim stirs up such excitement in me.  I bought Morrowind on a whim back in undergrad and was sucked in like never before, and when Oblivion came out I was blown away by just how amazing this franchise was.  The games are designed so well that even a guy like me, who likes to keep things based in realism as much as possible, will get a little giddy when they come out.  While an outsider may think fans of the series are full blown Ouija board-weilding Wiccan dungeonmasters, comfortably occupying their parent’s basements and playing Magic: The Gathering, the reality is far different.  Though when I try to explain what the game is about to those unfamiliar, it certainly makes everyone go quiet and look down into their beers uncomfortably, as if I’d told them my dog and I are no longer getting physical.

What a typical Skyrim fan may look like in the wild

And maybe I am a little prejudiced.  I mean, when Jsixgun and I went to the midnight release, we saw the entire Knoxville chapter of the trenchcoat mafia pretend sword fighting in the parking lot while others were dressed as wizards and other stuff guaranteed to repel women like an actor typecasted for his role in Herpes commercials.  We talked fantasy football while in line in a fruitless attempt to retain any semblance of normalcy.  But regardless of how weird some of those people were, Skyrim still had me terribly excited.  So when I got in from the cold that night, sat down with my dog and installed the game, I knew I was in for something big.  I just didn’t know how big the game would end up being.

The game is art. There's no punchline, that's just the truth...

See, my first draft of my “first impressions” article was written more as a gushy middle-school love letter than any sort of objective impression.  Reviewing a game of this magnitude is an incredibly daunting task, and writing anything over and above “The game is amazing.  Thanks.” is a challenge.  But to put it simply, this game has exceeded every single bit of hype surrounding it.  I was honestly worried; I had built this game up in my mind so much after Oblivion that I wondered if my expectations were based in reality.  Hype of that magnitude often leads to disappointment, and though I can handle disappointment with games like Call of Duty, I really wanted this game to be great.  And great it is.  The game is set in a fully explorable 16 square mile world.  You are no longer constrained to the class of your choosing, so whatever skills you want to use will all equally work to level you up.  The in-game menus and controls are intuitive and easy to learn, and the graphics are stunning.  Not a wildly extreme improvement over Oblivion, mind you, but daunting in their beauty nonetheless.

And it is the sheer freedom the game offers that allows it to be such a masterpiece.  While some games will make you feel like you are really “there”, this game lets you define where “there” is, and why and when you’re “there” as well.  My game is inevitably going to vary wildly from other peoples’ experiences with the game, and that is what makes it so great.  For instance, I got in a river to catch some fish just for the hell of it.  I didn’t realize it at the time but the current was taking me really far away from where I started from.  Next thing I know, I’m falling over a waterfall with no easy way to get back to where I was (I have a strict no fast travel policy).  I ended up running into some random people which began a storyline that is still ongoing.  It was a chance encounter, one I might not have had had I not been just dicking around, but this adventure has helped shape who I think my character is and what his motivations are.

The game is saturated with easter eggs, hidden items and places, and nods and references to older titles in the series.  For a big fan of Morrowind like me, stumbling across some steampunk Dwemer artifacts near the Skyrim/Morrowind border brought a rush of nostalgia over me.  I’m avoiding spoilers or hints like grim death so as to continue being pleasantly surprised by little discoveries like this.  I’ll be honest, I haven’t gotten to play for long, and in terms of the scope of the game, I’m certain I’ve barely scratched the surface.  But this game is certainly Game of the Year material, and will probably end up being on of my favorite games I’ve ever played.  As in ever played.  And though I was a little negative about some of the people I’ve seen who like this game, the overarching point I want to make is that this game is accessible; it’s for anyone, even people like me who don’t like fantasy.  Because of the breadth of this game and the overwhelming amount of choices offered to the player, this game can honestly be anything to anyone who plays it.  And there are tons of people out there who, like me, will find countless hours of some of the best gameplay available in gaming with Skyrim.  Truly it walks a thin line between game and art.  And it allows me to play as John Sylvester, an Imperial who is fighting against his homeland like an escaped inmate on death row would be inclined to do.  Plus he has great Civil War-era mutton chops which is a plus.

October 18, 2011

What Should be on Your Calendars after Skyrim – Jsixgun

If you’re like me, you have an app on your phone that counts down to Skyrim’s release date. If you’re not like me, trust me, you want to be. I’m cool. Anyways, much of the gaming world is on edge waiting for the release of Bethesda’s new Elder Scrolls game, while in Russia, Putin is demanding it early; as he has a penchant to do. After all, he really is very finicky when it comes to release dates for video games and twilight movies, because every one knows you can’t keep the Kremlin down. In lieu of his incessant whining he absolutely reminds me of Chavez when he acts like that, and don’t even get me started about his views on the Roman calendar! However, unless you’re that Kim Jong character in North Korea, you’re going to have to wait for 11-11-11 like the rest of us.

“I dragon, I no wait for dragon game.”

And after that fateful day, 100+ hours into the game when you finally beat it, what will you have to look forward to then? Of course you could take up a hobby; I hear underwater Polo is nice towards the end of the Winter Solstice. Perhaps, you could even study Iranian Fashion and write a dissertation on why Ahmadinejad never wears a neck tie. Or you could look into the following three games which look to be awesome in their own right. While I would certainly lean towards the second choice, the third choice is the most viable. So get you specks on, and let’s take a look.

#1 Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning

Have you ever heard of Curt Schilling? Well, he pitched for the Boston Red Socks and bled through his sock once. I think he also won a World Series, so he had moderate to average talent for sure. After all that was done he decided he wanted to open up a video game studio and did just that. His studio goes by the name of 38 Studios and they are working on what appears to be an awesome new fantasy game. Don’t believe me? Well lets just say he drafted an all-star team (A sports pun! A sports pun!).

First to bat (I did it again!) we have Ken Rolston. “Holy Crap!” you say? …No?… Okay you may not immediately recognize his name but you will recognize his games. Mr. Rolston, was the executive developers of both Morrowind and Oblivion; so it’s safe to say he is good at open world RPG’s, but that’s just the beginning. Joining him you have R.A. Salvatore pinning not only the story, but 10,000 years of lore to accompany the game. R.A. Salvatore is the guy who has more New York Times best selling novels than Lady Ga Ga has outfits. If that wasn’t enough, then enter another big hitter, Tod McFarlane. Yes, Tod McFarlane, the guy who created Spawn, will be leading the art direction for the game. Call me a sucker, but I’m already hooked. Take a look at the trailer below.

#2 Dishonored

Dishonored is being developed by Arkane Studios, recently purchased by none other than Bethesda. While not a whole lot has been released on this game so far, what has been released has my RPG senses tingling. It’s been described as a multi path game like Deus Ex mixed with combat variety reminiscent of Bioshock. Every action you take, every way you tackle a mission feeds into a chaos system which will measure and change progression of the story considerably. According to Arkane, the game will be built on choice after choice, all of which will have an impending and real effect on the world.

I strongly urge you to read more into this game, as all we have at this point are a few articles. However, despite the lack of info so far this game is on my radar.

The best part about it is the interesting mix of settings. They have instilled a fantasy game where magic does in fact exist into a mid 1800’s London feel. Furthermore, they have really created an interesting dynamic with a plague taking over the city from swarms of rats; rats which you can control or possibly even become if that’s the way you level your character up (Seriously it’s been confirmed that one of the powers you can delve into is controlling swarms of rats and sicking them on your enemies). Perhaps you want to be a thief, jumping from rooftop to rooftop, picking locks and shanking fools with a dagger? Maybe you want to be a small arms expert as the game does have period firearms as well. It’s another game where you get to choose how you play, and what effect you have on the world- so sign me up. Besides, its owned by Bethesda now, and I’m sure they will lead it in the right direction.

#3 Dragon’s Dogma

Out of the three this is the one I’m most skeptical of. Don’t get me wrong, I am very interested, but it’s being made by Capcom which makes me uncomfortable. Nothing against Capcom, but this isn’t Mega Man or Street Fighter; it’s an open world fantasy RPG which is something they have never conquered before. However, it could be simply amazing and is looking like it just might be, so I will wait with eager skepticism while keeping my fingers crossed.

One of the most interesting aspects of the game is the party system. You will be a member a four man team including your fully customizable character as well as one pawn which is also fully customizable. Stop right there, the fact that you can create a companion character to your likings is a very cool idea. Say you decide to be a tanking knight, well you can create a magic-using buddy to offset your skills in an effective way. That’s pretty interesting and unique. Moreover, the other two pawns are character’s other player’s have created. In fact, there is supposed to be some game dynamic which works to your benefit if you send your player’s pawn out into the world to help others. Perhaps he comes back with monies, or weapons, or lasses in tight skirts. Who knows? Suffice it to say this game could be a lot of fun. Check it out below:

Warning: climbing Griffons looks awesome.

October 10, 2011

The Geography of The Elder Scrolls

This, my friends, is Tamriel.  It is the continent upon which the events in all the Elder Scrolls games take place, including the upcoming Skyrim.  Lets take a look back through the games and their lore, and see what information we can glean, in order to be better equipped to kick some dragon ass come November.

The dark brown area in the north is Skyrim, where all the events of the upcoming game will take place.  Its going to be very mountainous and cold from what I can tell, and it is the area that the Nords call home.  But of course, Skyrim is not created in a vacuum, and there are tons of games that predate it and have worked to weave a good bit of interesting lore.  I won’t detail hardly any of that here, but what I would like to explore is which regions on Tamriel have been used before in prior games and which regions have yet to be touched in this world.  (Tamriel is merely a continent on the Planet Nirn, which has other continents as well, including Atmora, Yokuda, Akavir, and Pyandonea, none of which have any of the games so far been set in.)

This is the entire map of Nirn

The first game in the Elder Scrolls series goes by the terribly off-putting name, The Elder Scrolls:  Arena.  Originally intended to be just an arena fighting game, development eventually evolved into an early iteration of what we know today, an RPG game where you can go anywhere and do anything.  This game did not specify which province you could go to, and thus you could concievably go to any province you liked.  However, the terrain and settings were all randomly generated, so that here you are in Skyrim, in The Elder Scrolls: Arena:

It was 1994, give them a break

The next game in the series was The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall.  Daggerfall is the name of the capitol of the region High Rock, which you can see in the map of Tamriel above (its in the top left).  This land is mainly populated by the Bretons, the race I chose to play Oblivion with.  And thus this second installment takes place almost exclusively within High Rock, though you will travel to Hammerfell as well.  High Rock is mostly comprised of coastal cities near the shores, especially towards Hammerfell, and hilly plains with ruined castles and villages towards the mountainous boundary with Skyrim.

Daggerfall was notoriously buggy, and The Elder Scrolls games proceeded onto the next two titles, more focused on linear adventure gaming, and to some (including myself) they are not cannon.  These were Elder Scrolls Legends: Battlespire and Elder Scrolls Adventure: Redguard.  

But by 2002 the next true installment in The Elder Scrolls series was released, titled The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.  Morrowind takes place in none other than the province of Morrowind, which can be seen at the top right of Tamriel.  Morrowind is far different than most other regions of Tamriel, featuring a blackened sky from the eruptions of the Vvardenfell volcano, centered upon the island in Morrowind.  This area is home to the Dark Elves, and the setting is full of oversized mushrooms and large insect-like creatures.  This is the game that got me heavily involved in the Elder Scrolls series of games due to its sheer scope and graphical achievements.  Its unique aura gave me a feeling that is hard to explain, and I would love to see a title return us to Morrowind some day.  A future title could even boast a fully explorable Tamriel (not like Arena did, but like this newer gen could accomplish).  But that’s speculation.  Here is what Morrowind looked like:

Morrowind would also be my last forray into PC gaming, and thereafter I would be experiencing The Elder Scrolls through console.  In 2006, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was released.  Oblivion, despite the name, did not take place in Oblivion.  No, that is simply a plane of existence, something like Hell I suppose, that is threatening the plane of mortals, in which Tamriel exists.  True, you do travel to Oblivion in the game, but the majority of the game is set in the province of Cyrodiil.  Cyrodiil is the very large central province in Tamriel as you can see above.  It is home to the Imperial race and is the capital province of Tamriel.  As is easily observed, Cyrodiil is substantially larger than Skyrim, so it is yet to be known if the map size will be smaller in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim or if there will be larger cities, more detailed villiages, and less ‘waste’ space, i.e. using more in less space, thus giving us more to do per square foot.  That is yet to be seen, but what can be seen is what Cyrodiil looked like, and it is as thus:

And Skyrim will be released on 11/11/11.  It will, of course, take place in the province of Skyrim, which Bethesda has just verified today by providing the map below.  Being northern, and seeing how the Nords, who inhabit it, have a resistance to cold, it is fairly obvious this will be a very arctic climate.  Furthermore, because the mountainous boundaries of Cyrodiil, High Rock, and Morrowind they shared with Skyrim have all been high and snow capped, we can expect some simply beautiful environments.  And if that’s not got you excited enough, it appears that Skyrim is the province where dragons are native to.  And so in a few short month’s, we’ll finally be able to explore Tamriel’s most northern and unexplored province yet!  And click here for a larger, more detailed map of Skyrim!