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Review: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PC)

Originally posted BY MYASHARONA – NOVEMBER 25, 2011 at GamerFitNation

Game: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Platform: PC
Genre: Action RPG
POV: 1st & 3rd Person
Time Played: 21hrs + 
Developer:Bethesda Game Studios
Other Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Release Date: 11.11.11
 

Bethesda’s newest Elder Scrolls could easily be named Game of The Year at the upcoming VGAs and has received perfect scored reviews all across the web. Also nominated for Studio of the Year, and Best RPG; what is all the hype about? Is it really that good? I am pleased to confirm, for our readers here at GamerfitNation, that The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim does live up to the hype. With amazing visuals, an abundance of gameplay, and a completely immersive mythology, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is every bit deserving of the zeitgeist as it has created.

Skyrim is the fifth installment in the Elder Scrolls franchise and as such already had a substantial fan base. Following Oblivion, Skyrim’s 11.11.11 release by Bethesda, developers of other such notable titles as Fallout 3, Brink, and Rage, hit the market during what is arguably the busiest gaming time of the year. Competing with the likes of DarkSoulsAssasin’s Creed Revelations, Uncharted 3The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Battlefield 3,Modern Warefare 3Rayman Origins, and Saint’s Row The Third, it’s amazing to fathom that Skyrim still set a record with over 280,000 concurrent players, far outdistancing all other titles.

The largest question for me was: Is Skyrim enough to appeal to the player not at all familiar with the Elder Scroll franchise? Because most games on the market create multiple iterations it can create a bit of hesitation to jump into one on the third, fourth, or fifth installment of a long running and popular franchise. Like jumping into the middle of a really good novel, gamers can often skip perfectly wonderful titles for fear of the unknown backstory that the franchise had already built. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is no game to miss just because it is the fifth title in the series.  A large mythology surrounding Skyrim, the places and characters within it, are all explained throughout the game through various interactions with people, and objects such as books. While fans of the franchise will appreciate the subtleties of return characters, and the way Bethesda builds upon previous experiences, new players will appreciate the ease with which the Elder Scrolls world is introduced.

 

Because of the vastness of Skyrim, the complete emersion of experience, and the richness of those experiences, I cannot for a moment pretend that, despite the hitches I encountered on the PC version of the game, I will not rave about The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The game is full, engaging, amazing, and worth every penny. After playing 21 hours of Skyrim over the past 6 days for the purposes of this review, I will undoubtedly jump right back into the game after writing this and make an attempt to catch up to the nearly 50+ hours that most of my friends have already put into it. With only 20+ hours into Skyrim at this point (and 4 of 50 achievements) that is a cost value of $3 per hour of entertainment. If, as I suspect, I hit the 50hour mark with this title, that entertainment cost drops to $1.20 per hour of entertainment. This entertainment cost assessment is a common way for me to evaluate the value of an experience and when examined makes it hard to deny the worth of this title. This is no 8 hour campaign with perhaps some multiplayer for good measure, this is game that will earn its place on your shelf.

Skyrim offers you an open world that can be explored as one of the multiple character races who will propel you through the main quest line or experience a variety of side quests. You will have multiple quests simultaneously and can choose which to pursue at any time. The map is large and the terrain varies. As you explore the map and discover new places you will be able to travel by foot, by horse, or by fast tracking between previously discovered points. Once you have discovered most places they will appear on your map so that you may find them again at a later time. The main quest line will take you through the major cities where there are a myriad of NPCs ready to lead you in the right direction and an equal number ready to lead you astray. During your travels you will have the opportunity to join guilds and work through their quest lines, taking you to all corners of the world.


Very quickly you will learn that the story of Skyrim is one that you were always meant to be a part of. As the unfathomed return of dragons plague Skyrim, your appearance, as the only recent dragonborn, means that you are the pivotal key in the destruction of these beautiful but deadly creatures who are ravishing the world of Skyrim. Along the journey you will encounter conflicts between the people of the land and be able to play a part in their stories as well.

In order to progress through the story you will need to learn, build, and fight to increase your sustainability. You will work to increase your health, magic, and stamina all while building skills in weaponry, alchemy, sneaking and lock picking, one and two handed combat, archery, among so much more. The skill trees develop as you level up and the more you explore the more you are able to build and continue to level up. Each time you play this game your experiences will be affected by the areas you choose to develop creating a phenomenal potential for replay value.

So now that I have you eager to try this game for yourself I’d also like to talk to you a little about maximizing your Skyrim experience.

Consider your PC:

I am running Skyrim on the minimum system requirements for PC and it shows. The game is slow, the graphics are at the lowest setting, and load times are lengthy. If you are not running a top of the line machine I strongly suggest picking up a console version of the game. After playing on PC for so long, I jumped over to the 360 version of the game (the platform my BF is currently playing Skyrim on) and the graphical differences are mind blowing. That is not to say that you shouldn’t play this game on PC, you should, but in order to get the most of this wonderfully rich, vivid, and beautiful environment offered in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, consider what your PC is capable of and make the best decision for your gameplay.

You need a Gamepad:

The interface on the PC is not the most mouse friendly. As an artist I use a tablet on my PC. The Intuos 4 allows me to jump from pen to mouse with ease and let me switch back from gaming to drawing with ease. Don’t do this. I made a switch to a regular usb mouse about 2 hours into my experience and the responsiveness improved greatly, yet the interface was still troublesome. Using the WASD to navigate through your quests, skills, maps, and magic, is fine but the movements and fluidity of the game is still hindered with the mouse. After a number of hours with this I then began playing with a 360 style 3rd party gamepad and it was a game changing experience. If you don’t have a gamepad for your PC, consider one for this game, or consider how intuitive you are with the mouse. It’s a little different than your regular FPS, and the gamepad will save you tons of frustration.

Saves:

Save often. The game’s autosave feature is fine and does a decent job but there is nothing more frustrating than clearing half of a particularly challenging cave only to meet your death and have to restart. Use the save feature and save often, over and over again.

Patches:

IGN  has reported that Bethesda’s new patch will be coming after Thanksgiving to address issues with the game that have been reported across all systems (specifically a texture glitch that many of my gamelist has encountered). I have not encountered this problem but have encountered some bugs, such as getting stuck in the environment’s rockface, that in no way take away from the game’s experience.

For all that it is, for all that it still will be, and even given the time of year that it was released, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an easy contender for the VGA’s Game of the Year and certainly has quickly become one of my favorite Bethesda games. Because of the sheer magnitude of the game, the inspiring graphics, the phenomenal sound, score, diversity of the game, and the engaging mythology, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim gets a 9.5 out of 10 (rounded to a 9 for the slight difficulty in the PC user interface without a gamepad) and has easily made my favorite pick for Game of the Year: 2011.



Various Screen Shots from The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim at minimum PC settings. 

elder-scrolls-skyrim-V-dragon-1024x576Erna, my high elf warrior at level 6. (at lowest graphics setting for P).
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More on RockSmith: GFN talks with Ubisoft

Originally posted BY MYASHARONA at GamerFitNation

Recently we lost our very own @nicfurlong to the thrills of stardom with Rocksmith by Ubisoft.

Before Nic began his hands on experience with the game, and during his demo time, we had the chance to talk to Nick from UbiSoft about the title and some of the hard work that went into the game. After 4 years of development you can bet he was thrilled to be showing it off on the floor.

Nic of GamerFitNation and Nick of Ubisoft going over the Rocksmith UI

You can bet with two DJ’s and an open bar that this event was loud! It may be a little hard to hear but be sure to check out our brief recording of our talks with UbiSoft about Rocksmith  

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN —>rocksmith

While we may have only recorded a small bit of our conversation Nick talked to us more about the game and how great it will be for learners.

Let me tell you a little about the specifics (source):

Can I use any guitar with Rocksmith?
Most likely, the answer is yes. If your guitar has a standard ¼ inch jack for you to plug in a cable, then yes, your guitar will work. If your guitar does not have a jack (for example, many acoustic guitars), you can go down to your local music store and buy a pickup, and your guitar will be ready to plug in and play.

Will I need an amplifier to play the game?
Nope. All you need is a TV, a guitar, and our game. With Rocksmith, your TV or home theatre system becomes your amplifier. You plug your guitar directly into the console, and play. It’s that easy.

I’ve never played guitar, and it seems difficult and intimidating. How do you expect me to play this game with no prior guitar knowledge?

Unlike other music games with only 4 difficulty modes, our game adapts to your personal skill level in real time, making it possible for you to play and have fun. If you’re a beginning guitar player, the game will treat you as such, and constantly challenge you to improve without overwhelming you.

I’m an experienced guitar player, and am not interested in a game for beginners. Why should I own this game?
If you’re an experienced guitar player, it will recognize this, and feed you the amount of notes that you’re able to play. If that’s 100% of what the actual guitar is playing in the recorded song, then good for you. You’ve just learned a new song while playing a video game. Plus, what other video game out there allows you to plug in your own guitar? None! This is a one-of-a-kind experience that you are guaranteed to enjoy.

Will Rocksmith have rhythm or lead guitar in the gameplay?
Both. You will be able to choose rhythm or lead before you begin playing a song. Basically, whatever guitar parts are featured in the actual recorded song, we will have available for you to play.

Are there effects pedals in the game?
There are loads of effects pedals built into the game, and they are all the real deal. You’ll get to tweak your sounds, and string them together with nearly infinite combinations until you’re satisfied. Whether it’s a crunchy distortion, a vintage tremolo, or a psychedelic reverb, we have the gamut covered to make sure you can achieve the sound you’re looking for.

Will there be multiplayer?
Absolutely. We will have split screen multiplayer where you and a friend will be able to rock side by side.

Will there be chord charts?
Yes! And they are interactive. Rocksmith includes over 1,000 chords in the game.

What is this I’m hearing about mini-games?
There will be a wide variety of mini-games that will challenge you to hone in on specific skills. Whether its scales, or finger dexterity you want to improve on, our mini-games will have you covered, and addicted.

What is the price of the game?
Rocksmith is $79.99, and includes the game, along with a 1/4 inch to USB cable that plugs any guitar into your Xbox 360, PS3, or PC.

What is the price of the bundle?
The Rocksmith bundle is $199.99, and includes the game, the 1/4 inch to USB cable, and an Epiphone Les Paul Junior guitar.

What’s the Rocksmith guitar cable?
Rocksmith will include a unique quarter-inch to USB cable that is the first of its kind, and will allow users to plug any real guitar with a quarter-inch jack directly into their Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, or PC. Developed exclusively for Rocksmith, this revolutionary 11.25′ cable turns the guitar’s signal from analog to digital, allowing it to be recognized and played through video game consoles or PC for the first time.

Will there be bass in the game?
Bass will not be included on the disk since our primary focus is on guitar. However, we realize that there is a high demand for bass guitar, and we are working to release this as downloadable content soon after launch.

Can I put my own music into the game?
Currently, no. The intended goal of Rocksmith is not to be recording software. We want people to focus on playing the guitar and having fun.

Will there be latency issues with Rocksmith?
If you experience any noticeable latency with Rocksmith, then it’s more than likely due to the specific setup you’re using. Since everyone has a unique arrangement with their home entertainment systems, we’ve outlined steps you can take to avoid this issue (you can troubleshoot through the steps by visiting the Official Site of Rocksmith).

During my chat with Nick from Ubisoft (while Nic from GFN rocked out in front of a growing audience at the event) I asked him a little about the tracklist that has been used in the game and much to my surprise a lot of thought and consideration has gone into the tracklist. Including songs and artists that newcomers to the guitar want to learn Rocksmith also will feature some songs never before included in a music genre game. When asked about the lifespan of the game and how the game will continue to live on in living rooms and mancaves beyond the initial tracks, I was informed that indeed
“There will be DLC available at the launch of this title and more to come after that.”

Right now the track list for Rocksmith is impressive as it is and I can’t wait to see what will be added with the DLC.

Tracks include:

“House of the Rising Sun” The Animals
“When I’m With You” Best Coast
“I Got Mine” The Black Keys
“Next Girl” The Black Keys
“Song 2″ Blur
“Step Out of the Car” The Boxer Rebellion
“Sunshine of Your Love” Cream
“We Share the Same Skies” The Cribs
“Boys Don’t Cry” The Cure
“Rebel Rebel” David Bowie
“Slow Hands” Interpol
“Well OK Honey” Jenny O
“Sweet Home Alabama” Lynyrd Skynyrd
“In Bloom” Nirvana
“Breed” Nirvana
“Where is My Mind?” Pixies
“High and Dry” Radiohead
“California Brain” RapScallions
“Number Thirteen” Red Fang
“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” The Rolling Stones
“The Spider and the Fly” The Rolling Stones
“Panic Switch” Silversun Pickups
“Outshined” Soundgarden
“Me and the Bean” Spoon
“Vasoline” Stone Temple Pilots
“Mean Bitch” Taddy Porter
“A More Perfect Union” Titus Andronicus
“Burnished” White Denim
“Icky Thump” The White Stripes
“Chimney” The Yellow Moon Band

 

Because the game adapts to your specific skill level this is a great way to learn and rock at your own pace. I’m told that the hope is that this game will help push learner over “the hurdle” that is so easy to get caught in. And Nick’s right! i too am a victim of guitar learning discouragement. And while my learning has been basically on the acoustic, learning to Rocksmith is about to increase my cool quotient.  But don’t get me wrong this game isn’t just for beginners.

Have a look at this video about Rocksmith’s Dynamic Difficulty.

 

During the game I also noticed an enthusiastic in game crowd of people cheering on fellow GFN contributor Nic, so I asked Nick (of Ubisoft) about them. It turns out that the crowd cheering you on is in response to your skill level. The better you get, the larger the venue and therefore a larger crowd! Cool huh?!

Rocksmith released earlier this week (and is available for PS3, 360, and PC) and we couldn’t be more excited for the development team at UbiSoft. We want to say a HUGE GamerFitNation Thank You to Nick for taking the time to talk with us at this recent event.

 

 

 

Runespell: Overture Review

Originally posted BY MYASHARONA at GamerFitNation.com  

How many game types can you hybrid together seamlessly to create a satisfying PC experience? The folks at Mystic Box have been working hard to bring you the answer in Runespell: Overture. Runespell: Overture is a puzzle(ish) roleplaying game combining Poker/Yahtzee mechanics with Power ups and Collectable cards.

Runespell: Overture  takes you to an alternate medieval Europe. Creatively linking historical characters with Norse mythology the player takes on the role of ‘The Changeling’, the son of a monster god, in search of his nemesis. While the story and the art can be quite compelling at times, the dialogue seems odd at times during the cut scenes and battle intermissions. Easy to use controls help the combination of solitaire, yhatzee, and poker in the combat system run smoothly. While this ultra-hybrid title may not be for everyone the puzzle, rpg, and card playing combination is married nicely enough to warrant a gander.

Gameplay – 7.5/10

There is a lot going on here but it never seems overwhelming. Your linear narrative experience will have moving through the story to encounter key plot points revealed sometimes in dramatic cut scenes. The cut scenes are a series of stills and text as opposed to animated sequences. Our story is just interesting enough to propel you forward and many characters are met along the journey that are equally as interesting.

During the course of your game you will meet characters, friends and foes who have something unique to offer. Allies who travel with you will be included in your combat defense and offence and can be used just like specially earned ability cards. Ability cards will help you in battle when the poker hand dealt to you just isn’t enough.

In each battle you will have 3 turns per round. During your turn you can sometimes use your abilities cards and travelling allies or  you can use your three turns to create the best poker hand by stacking your cards (including the ability to steal your opponent’s cards) or simply use attacks you may have been collecting. Each player’s shield and health points are displayed beneath the character so you always know how much more damage is required to take down a foe. The enemy progression does not feel, well, progressive and sometimes the jump from an easy enemy to a difficult one can come suddenly.

Controls 7/10 – easy to use ‘click here’ control

The controls are simple, point and click. As a laptop user I found it much more useful to get out and use the mouse than the touchpad so if you are packing Runespell: Overture as a game to travel with, keep that in mind. Your click will be your ultimate device driving you from place to place on the map, interacting with the various quest giving characters, and helping you compile the very best poker hand for use in your combat battles.

Graphics 8/10 – lots of detailed artwork with a slight graphical hiccup on my Windows7 lenovo

Being an artist myself I always enjoy a good peek into the graphical development of a game. In Runespell: Overture the artwork is very well rendered. Characters,graphic elements, and environments were given the greatest of care.

Here you can see some of the concept art. I’m not sure if the concept are was so good it went to final or if our peek at the ‘concept’ art doesn’t include the thumbnails, sketches, and doodles every aspiring concept artist likes to see but regardless Mystic Box has done a great job with these renderings.

http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=104087

Unfortunately for some reason my laptop created some hiccups that took away from my experience in the game. With no current graphical requirements, at the beta stage, my advice would be to ensure that you check the requirements that are specified at launch to avoid the following problem:

Sound – 7/10 –appropriate sound effects and ‘epic’ style music.

The music and sound effects are well developed but be warned, loud. I lowered the computer’s levels and still found it to be a tad loud. While everything is appropriately fitting to the theme, environments, and overall schematic of the game I mainly played the game sans the music and enjoyed the sounds of the stacking cards, the achievement like sounds for creating an attack hand or using an ability card.

Key features:

1.Innovative Mythic Poker system using Poker/Yahtzee mechanics to battle your opponents
2. Unlock Power ups and special attacks available as collectable cards in the game
3. Combine your skills in short bursts of active play or long sessions of questing and battles
4. Defeat more than 30 monsters types each with a unique card set and attack style
5. Defeat enemies and make them your pets or allies
6. Unlock new battle locations through questing
7. Mix of beautiful hand painted backdrops and evocative 3d characters
8. A compelling and original story set in an alternate medieval Europe
9. Local leaderboard and achievements available (Online: Steam)

Overall

Runespell: Overture (RSO) is a Hybrid between RPG, Collectable Cards and Poker gameplay. By combining casual and core mechanics, RSO allows for short bursts of active play or long sessions of questing and battles. With a well-established and polished art style, epic music and sounds, and easy navigate quest and battle elements RSO is a fomidible addition to the genre of… well… a hybrid genre all of its own.

Runespell: Overture will be available on Steam starting July 20, 2011 at 10AM Pacific Time. The price for Runespell: Overture will be $9.99
In mainland Europe the price will be set to €8.99. In the United Kingdom players will pay £7.99.

“We hope these prices reflect the differences per currency best”, one of the producers of Mystic Box, Barry Hoffman, states.

Next to this Mystic Box will offer a further 10% discount during the first week after release. Still not sure? There will be a public demo available via Steam upon release of the game to allow potential players the chance to test the game before buying it.


Operation 7 – A New FPS On A Mission

Operation 7 offers 5 FPS modes that will keep you engaged again and again. Head Hunting, Deathmatch, Survival, Hold Line, and Demolition. Each self-explanatory mode includes over 90 modern weapons based on real-life firearms. The truly enthralling aspect of the weapons plan in Operation 7 is the ability to create your own weapons. With 540 gun parts that you can combine and assemble, you will no longer be content to using the same weapons as your opponents.

Operation 7 is a MMOFPS similar to many other titles in the genre. The game is downloaded to your PC and played through the game’s server in order to connect you with other players. The game has a tutorial and training level that is very reminiscent of another FPS that you may have played *cough*COD*cough*.

The game touts somewhere in the vicinity of 22 maps in which players can engage in quick combat with up to 24 players. The community for the game is growing and I constantly found rooms that were both full, queuing, and idle. The gameplay is fast paced, which makes up for the very familiar feel in what is already an overcrowded genre. There are some unique aspects to the game such as the ability to lean, to heal, and create custom weapons. The character creation is limited and lacks the option to play as a female, but very quickly you forget about that and begin to sift through the weapons selections which coincide with your keyboard’s………..

Read the rest of my review at GirlGamer.com

 

BlockMaster – Serious 12 vs. 12 action!

BlockMaster is an Online Battle game for the PC which is set to allow for up to 24 player action in a 12 vs. 12 group battle. The game offers single and team matches and tournament capabilities. BlockMaster features a unique transformation system to help you during battle and has all the things you would expect an online battle game to include.

 

continue reading the full review at GirlGamer.com

F1 2010 Review @ GirlGamer

To say that I was excited to recieve my review copy of Codemasters’ racing title F1 2010 would be an enormous understatement.

Immediately upon receiving my review copy I posted to my twitter, stating my excitement about being a part of what is still the ongoing action of the Formula One 2010 season.

 

As I played through the game I was surprised by just how thorough this game really is.  A racing game experience that is beautiful, extensive, and satisfying?  How would you rate it?

 

Find out how I reviewed F1 2010 at GirlGamer.com

Click here for the full review and I will see you on the track!