In for the Long Haul
On a day where a number of high profile websites have put their money where their mouth is - fuck anything that causes me to be Wikipedia-less – I thought I better say something about SOPA and PIPA. If you haven’t already, then it’s well worth familiarizing yourself with both sides of the argument for these controversial bills. I don’t know nearly enough about the US system to comment on whether they have a shot at being passed in their current state, but if they do then the fallout will be felt far and wide and it will negatively affect the online presence of our favoured industry.
And now for something completely different.
After an anti-climactic final showdown with an overgrown lizard and almost ninety hours of spelunking, looting, brawling and blacksmithing, I think I am finally ready to move on from Skyrim. Over the last couple of days loading screens have started to drag more than usual; each new mission has appeared just that little bit less interesting, and the required travelling that less bearable; and the other games in my collection have started to look ever so slightly more appealing.
I completed the final story mission yesterday evening. Once the final dialogues had been completed and the threat of rolling credits had passed, I realised that there was still much to be done in Skyrim and that I could play for another hundred hours and never see a true ending. Opening the menu screen and scanning my outstanding missions I saw nothing that I was desperate to pursue. The Thieves Guild missions, which I had begun the day previous, seemed likely to feature far too many loading screens, requiring me to move from one building to another stealing, replacing, and altering Skyrim-y things. I had no interest in chasing stolen books for the Winterhold Librarian and the lumbering giants outside of Dawnstar never did me any harm. I had been spoiled by the Dark Brotherhood assassination missions, which featured some of the most interesting objectives and characters in the whole game, and I just couldn’t bring myself to start a new story thread all over again, one that would probably pale in comparison to the Brotherhood’s.
While it did start to wear out its welcome, I loved Skyrim and consider it to be six weeks well spent. It is a rare occurrence that a current generation title holds my attention for such an extended period and succeeds in thoroughly discouraging me from playing anything else. These days, my attention span struggles to withstand the onslaught of a true epic - I haven’t even attempted to play a MMO for the best part of a decade – and a constant supply of new games means that I’m not inclined to stick with any one game for too long.
Back in the old days, I wouldn’t blink at the prospect of a fifty hour+ RPG. I invested untold hours of my mid teens playing sprawling RPG’s, time that in retrospect would have been better spent fumbling around in girl’s knickers, drinking cider, acquiring a taste for tobacco and/or soft drugs and other things that are expected of modern teenagers. Instead, I put over 100 hours into a number of Final Fantasies, and the ins-and-outs of the fairer sex and my tolerance for cider remained a relative mystery for longer than they should. On the plus side, the members of my FFVIII team were all at level 99; a silver lining to every cloud.
Final Fantasy has always been the one series where I have been willing to put in the hours. Final Fantasy XI – my lone MMORPG experience – claimed almost 200 hours of my life before I finally, and reluctantly, packed it in. The only current generation game that I have played for more than fifty hours is Final Fantasy XIII, which I platinumed with 110 hours on the clock, half of which was spent pushing forward and spamming circle.
I’m glad that I bucked the trend and stuck with Skyrim for as long as I did. There is still a decent chance that I will return, either in the next few days if I find myself missing it, or a little further down the road when the inevitable DLC drops; any additional content would need to open up an unexplored portion of the map, as opposed to just generating some new quests, if it is to convince me to return after a prolonged absence.
If I were to rewrite my Best and Worst of 2011 today, then Skyrim would take game of the year honours, as I would look back at a consistently brilliant adventure, albeit one that was rough around the edges but always careful to fully reward the long slog. With that out of the way, it is now time to decide which game to play next. Whether it’s Dark Souls, Saints Row the Third, Deus Ex Human Revolution or Assassin’s Creed Revelations, the only thing I know for sure is that I won’t be pouring 90 hours into it.