Here there be Dragons

The fifth installment in the Elder Scrolls series is out this coming month. I did not enjoy my first (albeit brief) adventure into the realm with Morrowind - becoming frustrated almost immediately with the necessity to walk everywhere. Little did I know that later you would have the ability to fly and so on - to make the slow transportation more bearable. That would have been 2004. When Oblivion was released on 360 in 2006 I was admittedly intrigued but wary as I had been burnt its over-hyped predecessor. I watched alot of videos and read some reviews and realised that the issues that I had with the previous game were something that would not be an issue for me with this installment. So I picked it up.

I spent at least half an hour crafting my character, the decision of race was not particularly difficult (Dark Elf), and went on to refine his features for a time. Playing through the intro was fine (although grating on subsequent play-throughs), once outside I was amazed by the landscape - the mountains, lake and wildlife. I wandered the exterior walls of the city until I found an entrance. However, I did not enter said city because I was rather distracted by the open world environment that I had not truly experienced at this stage in gaming. So in what would become quite a common activity in the game for my character, I stole a horse from the stables and headed off into the world.

That was my first few hours of gameplay - exploring the world (at a pace quicker than walking) and marveling at the technology and sheer scale of what Bethesda had created. Ironically I would go on to do all missions on horseback, riding from city to city - rather than making use of the quick travel option which was available for the majority of quests. I never did finish the main quest, feeling as though I was doing it too quickly I drifted off onto the Arena and various guilds. Then other games were released, and at a later stage - my save file corrupted and I simply did not (do not) have the patience to put in the 140 odd hours I had up to that point.

So let me swing this around a bit, in more of a Skyrim direction..

Since Oblivion I have enjoyed a number of open-world and sandbox games, all of which I attack with a similar attitude - right into at the start and then inevitably a new game comes out that steals my attention and as a result I neglect the initial game... If the story is one that has grabbed me I will come back to it, or if I particularly enjoy it. GTA4 and Red Dead Redemption are examples of sandbox games that I loved so much that I hammered through the game with few interruptions. Borderlands, Fallout 3 and Fable 3 failed to grab me in the way that these others did, more often than not the menu system of Fallout frustrated the hell out of me when searching for something very straightforward in my inventory... So there's that.

From appearance some of the issues that I had with Oblivion may not be raised again in Skyrim. My style of gameplay generally revolves around stealth (where possible) and full out charging in and more often than not, rapidly becoming rather... dead. Two opposing styles of gameplay, and when magic is involved I tend towards stealth (invisibility etc), stunning (ice/electricity) and some healing/telekinisis. I have made a promise to myself that other than the dragon shouts I'm not going to use magic on my first play though. Sure that is going to make it a difficult experience, but the character I am going for is more of a hunter/ranger. Think Aragorn in Lord of the Rings. Can do both archery & close up. Based off the gameplay footage; the dual wielding combo's and the increased focus on specialist gameplay will hopefully bring a whole new level to the experience.

I have yet to decide on what race I will play as but would hazard a guess that my character creation this time round could take an hour or so.. Still leaning towards something elfish (probably dark elf again) but the viking-like characters could also be an option. Either way the character-creation will inevitably result in a a character that resembles a somewhat idealised version of myself.

That's usually how it goes anyway...

iPhone 4S / Canon 5D Mark II

Quick comparison video of the quality of the 1080p recording from a Canon 5D Mark II and the shiny new iPhone 4S.

I didn't expect that the video recording of the iPhone would be too great to be perfectly honest. Clearly I am wrong. There are issues with the shadows doing some funky pixelating every now and then. But apart from that I can't fault it too much as far as 1080p video on a mobile phone.

Certainly helps my decision making process whether or not to upgrade from my 3G move along faster.

Made to be Ruled.

The first official trailer for The Avengers (2012) was released this week and it certainly left an impression.

Since Samuel L Jackson's cameo in the post-credits scene in Iron Man (2008) anticipation has been building for a film that many though would never be released. Slowly the pieces have fallen into place, particularly with the release of Captain America and Thor this year. If you can wrap your head around where the film's fall in to chronology you may understand how Marvel has built towards this film.

Captain America (2011) > Iron Man (2008) > Iron Man 2 (2010) > Thor (2011) > The Incredible Hulk (2008) 

Overall, the trailer looks great. Joss Whedon clearly understands the relationships within the team, the tensions betweens Iron Man and Captain America and so on. While I can't say I was happy with another recast for Bruce Banner/Hulk the new take (whilst we are only offered a glimpse) looks fantastic. Mark Ruffalo has stated over and over that they have taken his features and bulked them out and stretched them to make the Hulk. You can really see it in this brief glimpse. I am hoping that his design remains closer to that of The Incredible Hulk (2008) rather than Hulk (2003), but also that Ruffalo's mocap performance does the character justice.