Ok, I think I'm done!
With Skyrim, that is.
That being said, I am prepared to share with you my final thoughts on the game. While eating a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, no less!
Skyrim is still in the same position on my top games list as it was the last time I announced where it stood -- a solid third, beaten by only Half-Life 2 (at #1) and Fallout 3/New Vegas (at #2). I'm actually in the mood to explain exactly why that is.
First, here's what Half-Life 2 does better:
Story. Skyrim has an amazing story, and amazing -side- stories. It's got more lore and more content than Half-Life 2 by far. But one of the problems I have with Skyrim's stories is that a lot of the times, you do not see the consequences or benefits of your decisions. Half-Life 2 may be quite linear by today's standards, but the story -moved-. You felt a sense of urgency. That's something Skyrim lacked. Yeah, you saw dragons around. Ok. Buuuut...where was the world ending danger? You knew it was there only because people say, "If you don't do something, the world will end!" It's one of the balancing acts that you have to walk when you make an expansive, open-world environment. It's not really Skyrim's fault. But I have to make that assessment because of how freaking good Half-Life's story is.
Characters. Alyx. Dr. Breen. Dr. Kleiner. Dr. Vance. Barney. G-Man. All of these character have these very unique personalities. They are their own people. Skyrim really doesn't have any strong secondary characters like this. The closest I can think of would be the Jarl of Whiterun, or Delphine. But still...they don't feel -completely- unique, or fully fleshed-out. Not like the characters of the HL universe. I -cried- when Eli died at the end of Episode 2, it was able to evoke that strong of an emotion out of me. There were no moments like that in Skyrim.
As for Fallout, this was a bit harder to determine. A lot harder, actually, to the point where I had to really think about it. It was a photo-finish right up to the end, man! But in the end, I chose Fallout as my #2 for the following reasons:
Setting. I will not argue with anyone regarding the beauty of Skyrim. It is probably one of the most beautiful game worlds I've ever seen. But Fallout is more -my- kind of setting, and therefore it will win every time. When John looks at Skyrim and sees a snowy hillside, it cries out to him for exploration. I'm sure that's true for a lot of people. But for me, nothing says "Explore me!" like an office building after a nuclear holocaust. I think one of the main reasons for this is because when I scavenge through that office building, I'm finding remnants of a world that I live in, but somehow different in ways that were unexpected. Bottlecaps...that are -money-. Batteries...that power my -weapons-. Money...that is absolutely useless. You get the idea. Exploration in Skyrim is also incredibly enjoyable and rewarding, don't get me wrong about that. But Fallout's appeals to -me- to a greater degree. Also, the idea of exploring a world that was once inhabited, and then destroyed, just fascinates the crap out of me. When I was in school, I loved learning about Pompeii for that very reason.
Combat. There's not much to say about this. Skyrim's combat is brilliant, but I will choose guns with the VATS system over anything else, ever. Besides, you know me -- I'm a gunslinger. Skyrim doesn't have pistols. /sadface.
All of that may seem like a hell of a lot of complaining, but in reality it's not. Consider that I'm directly comparing this game to two of what I would consider the greatest games ever. I'd say it fared quite well, and besides, I'm not done talking yet.
First, allow me to explain the title of this post. That is, why I feel I'm now (mostly) finished with the game. The first is that I've done just about all of the -major- story lines. All that's left are the simple ones -- find a book, kill something, deliver something, etc. I've done all the really interesting ones. Next, I'm running into situations where I cannot proceed on some side quests because I've already done other things in the game. For example, I was sent to retrieve a certain item from a certain cave somewhere out in a certain bit of nowhere. Well, I was to turn in this item to a certain Jarl in a certain city -- but the Jarl is no longer in his palace, but in a common house. Which is locked. I was undaunted, so I sneakily picked the lock and went inside. Unfortunately, he's not happy with me due to my decisions during the "Reunification of Skyrim" questline, and therefore I cannot turn in the item or complete the quest. This may not seem like a big deal, but I am a completionist, so this is incredibly frustrating for me.
The final thing was my house in Windhelm. I thought I took a screenshot of it, but I don't see it in my folder. In any case, it's not hard to explain. Basically, I did a quest in Windhelm that involved a serial killer. He was hiding out in an abandoned house. When I bought my house there, -that's- the one they gave me. Complete with blood stains all over the floors, skulls in the closets, and butchered flesh in a hidden room. I spent nearly 20,000 gold on the house and all the furnishings, and yet I have all this -mess-. Really? The part that annoyed me the most was that I probably would have liked that house the most out of all the ones in the game, because it has a cool armory where you can store your cool weapons in display cases. Such a shame.
Crom, that's enough bitching. You'd think I hated this game or something. Hardly. I had so many good experiences, so many surprises, and so many cool things happen that I can't even begin to explain them all. And besides -- spoilers!
And now, how about another round of screenshots? I will use them as a medium to reassure you of how awesome this game is.
Why yes, he is a badass. Thank you for noticing.
Pretty landscape overload. Commence head exploding.
You can imagine the dragon saying to me, "Careful with that thing! You'll poke someone's eye out."
Oh, come on. It's a game with infinite dragons in it. You can't be surprised that eventually I ended up riding one!
All together now: "Ooooh, pretty!"
Rejected captions for this image:
"This way to the Dark Portal!"
"The Witch-King would like a word with you."
"Oh no! Dementors!"
If you get each one of those references, I'll give you a cookie. (If you get each one of these references -and- you're John, you get something -else-.)
One word about "Team Jacob" and I will maul your face.
I've killed a lot of dragons, but -every- time I am compelled to stand and watch the death animation and the soul absorption. It just never gets old, and that's true for a lot of the things in this game. There's a lot of repetition, sure. But it's presented so well that you really don't care!
And that's the last of the screenshots that I currently have. Hey, I might post some more later on, especially if Bethesda delivers with the DLC content. So don't worry about that!