My favorite games of the year were Bastion, Skyrim, and the Witcher 2. Wow, that was easy. And hey, I already wrote extensively about allofthem. Convenient! So, for the next few days, I'm gonna discuss some of 2011's lesser-known greats. Last week, I turned into a quivering pile of mush on BioShock 2: Minerva's Den, and today, I'm taking a crack at Team Meat teammate Edmund McMillen's blood-soaked solo smash, The Binding of Isaac.
The Binding of Isaac is the game that finally pulled me away from Skyrim.
Like any gamer in the target demographic of Bethesda's behemoth (read: “a human capable of drawing breath”), I pretty much sacrificed my every waking hour on Skyrim's altar. Sometimes, it was 30 minutes here or there. Other times, it was 30 minutes here, there, and everywhere until a family of mice had taken up residence in my flowing gray beard. Point is, that game consumed my life.
That is, of course, until I bought Binding of Isaac and learned a very valuable lesson: Most modern big-budget games? Yeah, they're kinda crappy.
Three cheers to Bethesda, who finally rolled out a small patch for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on the PC through Steam that shows big love for gamers rocking more than 2GB of RAM. The Skyrim 1.3.10 patch adds "support for 4-Gigabyte Tuning," otherwise known as Large Address Aware. Lack of LAA support made third-party mods like "4GB Skyrim" popular (as featured in PC Gamer's "Skyrim Mods: the 20 best so far").
Skyrim may be hogging the headlines, but for many, the mere mention of “Elder Scrolls” conjures up fond memories of Silt Striders, Cliff Racers, and the only Mudcrab capable of suppressing its stupid/suicidal tendencies long enough to take up commerce. Morrowind, though, wasn't much of a looker to begin with, and age spares not even the most beloved of classic RPGs. Fortunately, that's where the Morrowind Overhaul project comes in. It's a mod compilation collectively created by “hundreds of people” that dusts off Morrowind's gigantic landmass and gives it quite the impressive spit 'n' shine. No, the elder Elder Scrolls won't suddenly give Skyrim a run for its money, but this is an impressive project nonetheless. Check out a trailer after the break, and -- if you feel so inclined -- give the mod a download here.
Skyrim's got more adventure in one Mudcrab than most games have in their entire worlds, but that hasn't stopped some players from clamoring for a second absurdly heaping helping. Fortunately – equine fashion faux pas aside – Bethesda's DLC track record is more hit than miss. Skyrim, the developer assures, won't be bucking that trend.
Everyone seems to love The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and that's because there's very little not to like (unless you're just not into RPGs, in which case you should seek counseling immediately). Underscoring the widespread appeal of a game like Skyrim, the average gamer spent 23 hours hunting dragons and picking virtual pockets during Skyrim's first week of sales.
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a big game. Really big. If you intend to play through many of the side quests and fully immerse yourself in Skyrim's spend game world, you could easily hundreds of hours wandering the different landscapes. To help you make the most out of that kind of time investment, Nvidia put together a lengthy tweak guide covering everything from basic configurations to obscure settings.
The notion of shoehorning Microsoft's already notoriously, er, prolific motion control contraption into Skyrim -- of all things -- may seem like the worst idea since, well, ever, but an intrepid modder's proof-of-concept video has us reconsidering our stance. Sure, our faithful keyboard-and-mouse combo could probably KO a dragon (and definitely aim a bow) with more finesse, but this setup looks sort of, dare we say it, fun? Unfortunately, the demonstrator doesn't “Fus Ro Dah” any hapless bandits into the sun, but he does briefly break out Ice Form. And come on, we can't be the only ones who occasionally shout -- in real life -- when busting our foes' eardrums (and, you know, faces). Unless, of course we are, in which case... Hey, look! A video!
AMD has released another performance driver (yes, again) for its Catalyst 11.11 package. And once again, improved performance in Elder Scrolls: Skyrim takes center stage. New in Catalyst 11.11c is better CrossFireX performance scaling for AMD Radeon HD 5000/6000 series cards in Skyrim, 2-7 percent better performance in single GPU configurations, and a resolved corruption issue when enabling MSAA on Radeon HD 6970 cards.
We can't stop playing Skyrim. Well, except for when it forces us to stop -- for instance, with a show-stopping crash or, er, a physics-defying dragon. Bethesda's already patched its massively single-player RPG opus once (to mixed results), but it's not sheathing its bug-smashing mallet any time soon. That said -- much as we appreciate patch notes like “Fixed occasional issue where a guest would arrive to the player’s wedding dead” -- small tweaks to Bethesda's enormous game are hardly the only things we have to look forward to.
Game characters talk too much. Unless, of course, they're J'zargo.
I like shirts. I enjoy owning them, wearing them -- pretty much everything you can do with shirts, really. Which is mostly just those two things. So I recently visited a custom T-shirt website, because why not? And then -- because I'm oddly proud of my exceedingly embarrassing geekiness -- I searched for Skyrim apparel. What I discovered made me laugh like a hyena that'd recently eaten a live clown. Then it made me deeply, deeply depressed. Mere days after the game had launched, there were shirts emblazoned with phrases like “You tried mercenary work? It might suit you” and “My cousin's out fighting dragons, and what do I get? Guard duty.”
If you've played Skyrim for more than two seconds, those phrases probably haunt your nightmares -- perhaps uttered by deeply unsettling images of your disapproving father as a giant praying mantis. Why? Because Skyrim's all-too-talkative denizens bellow them every time you're within bellowing range. Dovahkiin shouts? The Voice? Those are nothing compared to these all-powerful, sanity shattering sentences. And that's a rather large problem.