Game Reviews XBox 360 Skyrim (Xbox 360)
 
Skyrim (Xbox 360)

Skyrim (Xbox 360) Hot

Editor rating
 
6.0
User rating
 
0.0 (0)


Accessibility At A Glance Skyrim (Xbox 360)

6.0

   
Precision > Yes You will need precision to play
One-Handed > Maybe Take a look at the detailed review before you buy
Deaf Gamers > Yes You should have no issues with this game
Subtitles > Mostly Character text is present but not ambiant
Colorblind > Maybe Some challanges, but playable

About the Game

Class
Commercial
Genre
Maker
Bethesda
Release Date
November 08, 2011
Multi-player
No
Licence Category
commercial


Skyrim


You know what Steve said about the game world and gameplay in his review of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on PC? He’s right. Maybe not quite effusive or gushing enough, but still right. Just understating things a bit. And I say this as someone who, in general, refuses to play fantasy genre games of any sort because of how boring and common and overdone the entire genre seems. In general, I could care less about discovering the secret of the mists of Farrowfalls in the Elven city of Leishandira or whatever nonsense gets thrown at players, but Skyrim is different. It’s a vast open world, filled with locations that most players will never have any reason to visit unless they’re roaming simply for the sake of roaming.

Image Gallery

Skyrim (Xbox 360)
Skyrim (Xbox 360)
Skyrim (Xbox 360)

Editor review

Skyrim (Xbox 360) 2011-11-28 21:42:51 Scott Puckett
Overall rating 
 
6.0
Mobility 
 
6.0
Visual 
 
7.0
Hearing 
 
5.0
Scott Puckett Reviewed by Scott Puckett    November 28, 2011
Last updated: November 28, 2011
Top 10 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews

Skyrim

You know what Steve said about the game world and gameplay in his review of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on PC? He’s right. Maybe not quite effusive or gushing enough, but still right. Just understating things a bit. And I say this as someone who, in general, refuses to play fantasy genre games of any sort because of how boring and common and overdone the entire genre seems. In general, I could care less about discovering the secret of the mists of Farrowfalls in the Elven city of Leishandira or whatever nonsense gets thrown at players, but Skyrim is different. It’s a vast open world, filled with locations that most players will never have any reason to visit unless they’re roaming simply for the sake of roaming.

And yet the game also has real-world implications – it’s possible to view the game as an analogue for resisting a religion thrust upon a population, as in the Christianization of Scandinavia, as well as an analogue for the birth of Christianity given the oppression visited upon worshippers of Talos, a human believed to have become a god, by the Thalmor, a faction established to root out any heretical ideas conflicting with the established Elven pantheon (in short, the way the Roman Empire treated Christians).

Even more to the point, Skyrim is so beautiful because it’s often so ugly – there aren’t really grand palaces carved from gleaming marble. There are log cabins and shacks made of stone and mortar and rough-hewn rock and so on. It’s a faithful, historically accurate depiction of what Scandinavia looked like hundreds of years ago, and it’s far more compelling because of it.

Steve’s correct in that your choices help shape the game world, but many choices won’t change things significantly – obviously, killing a quest giver (which is absolutely possible) will mean that quest isn’t available, and choosing sides in the civil war (and choosing sides with other factions) will prevent or open up certain quests, but the overall consequences of player actions in this game seem smaller than they were in Fallout: New Vegas or Fallout 3.

The long and short of it is that Skyrim is an amazing game, and I say this as someone who usually hates the entire genre. On to accessibility.



Accessibility Issues / Concerns

First and foremost, any reviewer who claims to have done everything, even two weeks after release, is probably wrong. This game is huge. It is massive. It can easily take months to do or see everything. And even then, many NPCs appear to offer procedurally generated jobs (i.e. missions dynamically generated by a set of rules in the game world) for players, so it can apparently keep going past that as you rescue this person or claim that bounty.

With that in mind, let’s dig into the accessibility particulars.

Right off the bat, Steve is right in that the console version currently appears to be more accessible than the PC version, which is rather stunning.

The controller is largely remappable (the d-pad is reserved for certain features and players can’t swap stick functions although they can remap the R3 and L3 functions), allowing players a reasonable degree of customization, and making the game easier for gamers who have use of their right hand and a stock controller. Gamers with use of their left hand will have a more difficult time playing with a stock controller. The default combat controls are blocking with the left trigger and attacking with the right – it’s possible to dual wield weapons, and when using a bow with certain Archery perks selected, the left trigger can become a zoom function. Spellcasting is virtually the same – spells, like weapons, are assigned to triggers, allowing for dual casting.

Players with precision concerns need to be aware that combat occurs in real time; accessing a menu pauses combat, but players still need to aim at their target. Precision becomes even more critical when using a bow at longer ranges. To complicate matters, guards, townspeople and followers will often get in front of you in combat and attacking them, even accidentally, counts as a crime. Skyrim does not offer target lock, aim assist or any other similar feature, making combat more challenging.

The lockpicking mini-game also requires precision as players must move the lockpick to a specific location to open the lock, and higher-level locks leave almost no room for error. This is especially important since players can attempt to pick any level lock at any time – I was able to pick master-level locks when my lockpicking skill was only at 20, but I broke a LOT of lockpicks in the process.

Even the skill menu can present problems for players with precision concerns – selecting perks requires precise stick movements to guide a target across a skill map shaped like a constellation which has stars representing perks. Frankly, it’s a nightmare – while the game will ask players to confirm their perk selection, it can still be very challenging to move the target onto the perk in the first place. But at least it looks different than something boring and usable and accessible – like the perk lists Bethesda has been using in Fallout games. That isn’t the only complaint about user interfaces in Skyrim, but it’s one of the more relevant ones for accessibility.

However, players with vision concerns can continue to worry about the interface – the text is small, often requires significant amounts of scrolling and is difficult to read, despite being in a sans serif font. If you look in the forum thread about Skyrim, you’ll find links to articles quantifying how bad the user interface is and what could be done differently, but the key is that reading in Skyrim can be difficult.

Furthermore, there is a broad range of additional concerns for low-vision gamers – mining ore in Skyrim is helpful, but ore deposits are often difficult to distinguish from other rocks. Mines and dungeons and other interiors are often dark, making it quite difficult for low-vision gamers to see in buildings. Unlike the Fallout games, there’s no onscreen warning when a trap is near – players have to see the pressure plate or tripwire or booby trap on a chest and avoid or disarm it. When fighting dragons, a dragon’s breath will usually obscure the screen and affect what the player can see for a few seconds.

For the most part, vision concerns after that are limited to subtitles (which are displayed onscreen in white; a perfect color considering the game is set in an area which is often very snowy, meaning that subtitles can quite literally disappear). There don’t seem to be any parts of the game or mini-games which require players to distinguish between colors, although stolen items seem to be displayed in red when they’re in a container. Unlike Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, players cannot change the UI / text color, a quick fix which would address a number of low-vision and UI concerns.

Gamers with low vision may find that using the third-person over the shoulder view makes the game more accessible due to a wider field of vision; moving with a weapon drawn further expands the field of vision, but – as was the case in the Fallout games – aiming and selecting objects in the third-person view is often far more difficult than it is in the first-person view. Players can move the reticle directly over an object in third-person view and not be able to pick up, and may need to aim elsewhere in order for the game to target the desired object. However, there’s no clear way to further expand the field of view.

Deaf gamers are likely to have some problems – subtitles are in white and can easily blend into the background. Audio cues – footsteps, bears and other animals growling, etc. – are not closed captioned. Usually, players can hear enemies before seeing them and also have a rough idea of where that enemy is, meaning that players who can hear can prepare for the fight and perhaps even avoid it.

As one particularly annoying example, wolves howl and then snarl as they prepare to attack – the howl is a warning that a wolf is nearby while the snarl means an attack is imminent, giving players with hearing two separate and distinct audio cues to quantify the danger level. Even the lockpick mini-game uses sound – attempting to turn a lock with the pick in the wrong position will rattle the pick. Since this is not subtitled, deaf gamers are likely to break a lot of picks until they have played enough to figure out how much pressure is necessary to use and how the lock moves when it’s near or at the correct position.

Finally, as one final annoyance, players must start the game before they can enable subtitles. There’s simply no way to do it before the game starts.

All things considered, Skyrim is less accessible on consoles than Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas were, which is a disappointment. However, it’s still a fairly accessible game and, even more importantly, it’s an utterly fantastic title which offers a lot of value and long-term play opportunities.



Mobility: 6
Visual: 7
Hearing: 5

My original purchase price: $59.99
Recommended purchase price: $59.99

At A Glance

Precision: Precision is a challenge in Skyrim, especially for ranged combat. The lockpick mini-game relies on precision as well. Combat occurs in real time and can be challenging when fighting multiple enemies or dragons, especially since townspeople, guards and followers tend to run in front of arrows and swords and attacking them, even accidentally, is considered a crime. The game doesn’t offer any accommodations like target lock or aim assist. Recommend rating of 5 out of 10.

Deaf Gamers: Skyrim is not closed captioned and includes a number of audio cues which make the game easier for players with hearing, many of which are noises enemies make before attacking. It is not a complete barrier, but the game world will be significantly more challenging for deaf gamers who cannot hear the enemy around the corner. Recommend rating of 5 out of 10.

One-handed: Skyrim offers reasonable controller remapping, but does not allow players to remap the d-pad, which is reserved for game functions, nor can players swap stick functions. Recommend rating of 7 out of 10.

Subtitled: The subtitles are displayed in a sans serif font in white, creating an accessibility issue because the game is set in a world where snow is common. They can be small and difficult to read. Recommend rating of 5 out of 10.

Color Blind: There are some low-vision issues such as subtitles displayed over backgrounds with the same color, and dragons’ breath can obscure the screen for a time. Searching for ore can be difficult since ore veins often blend in with other rocks, and mines or dungeons will often require maps. However, players do not need to distinguish between colors to play the game. Recommend rating of 7 out of 10.

Checkpoint / Save System: Save anywhere at any time. Recommend rating of 10 out of 10.

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Scott Puckett
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