Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

A bit of a Drag...onborn

Skyrim expansion offers new missions, chances to explore, but in the end is anticlimactic, tedious

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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a fantasy role-playing game set in a massive, open-world northern medieval setting. Dragonborn is a DLC (downloadable content expansion) that provides new quests and a new map. It is currently available for Xbox 360 and will be released for both Playstation 3 and PC platforms in early 2013.

The game begins when a group of cultists tries to murder your hero. You will follow various clues until you arrive in the land of Solstheim. There, you will help the local Dark Elves and Nords battle an evil sorcerer named Miraak.

In Solstheim, you will find new towns, new monsters and a lot of new loot -- including new varieties of armour and weapons that are unique to this expansion. You can also learn the "Dragon Aspect" shout, which delivers massive bonuses to armour, strength and shouts.

But the best part of Dragonborn is that your character can learn the "Bend Will" shout that enables you to tame and fly dragons. The puzzle-map dream world of Apocrypha is also a great deal of fun.

Dragonborn delivers intriguing new missions and the chance to explore new towns. However, I found the final battle against Miraak to be anticlimactic. The boss fight itself was great -- it includes a battle between several dragons. But the conclusion of the Dragonborn story seemed abrupt. This uninspired ending, combined with the generally tedious dialogue of the Skaal non-player characters (NPCs), left the impression of second-rate game writing. Frankly, this story could be more complex and more interesting.

In general, I had more fun with the previously released Hearthfire DLC. Hearthfire does not include new quests or battles, but it allows you to build custom houses and adopt NPC children. Hearthfire provides many hours of amusement (of the shopping and building variety) and costs only 400 Microsoft points (or $5.80).

Dragonborn will provide around five to 10 hours of new gameplay, depending on your strategy. It is available in both English and French and includes great voice acting in both formats.

If you have never played Skyrim, consider checking out Conan O'Brien's "Clueless Gamer" review of the game. You can watch the video on YouTube.

If you're already a fan of Skyrim, I recommend Kristen Nedopak's excellent webseries The Skyrim Parodies -- also available on YouTube. It perfectly captures the joys and absurdities of this popular game.

 

Danishka Esterhazy is a screenwriter, film director and self-confessed video game addict. She prefers games with a story but will settle for a good sword fight.

VIDEO GAME REVIEW

Title: Skyrim: Dragonborn

System: Xbox 360, Playstation 3 or PC

Price: 1600 Microsoft points (about $23.20)

Score: 2.5 out of 5

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 3, 2013 C14

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About Danishka Esterhazy

Danishka Esterhazy is a screenwriter, film director and self-confessed video game addict. She prefers games with a story but will settle for a good sword fight.

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