Upon finishing up the initial download and install of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim from Steam and launching the game, the game determined that the optimal graphics settings for the MSI GT683DXR-423US gaming laptop I was playing on were "Ultra High", and that was good enough for me.
Of course I didn't have to spend some $1,500 to play the latest installment of Bethesda's masterful open world role-playing franchise on the GR683DXR. The company sent me a model for evaluation, to be returned shortly after this review is posted despite my having licked the surface of the machine on several occasions. Many, many occasions.
So for those of you that do have to spend a large amount of money on this Core i7 2 GHz laptop with its 15.6-inch full HD display, 12GB DDR3 system memory, and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570M graphics card, the real question is what parts did I enjoy licking, and which bits left a bad taste in my mouth?
First off we have the meaty taste of the MSI GT683DXR-423US's rather hefty frame. While the 15 by 10.3 inch footprint is rather modest, at nearly two inches thick and weighing in at 7.7 pounds it's the sort of gaming laptop that spent a great deal of time on my desk and very little time demonstrating its portability. I had the opportunity to bring the MSI machine with me to BlizzCon earlier this year, but opted instead to go with the hideous Asus laptop I procured earlier, partly because it weighs two pounds lighter and partly because it was less likely to be stolen by random Blizzard fan ne'er-do-wells.
While the MSI GT683DXR-423US is a slightly thicker, meatier gaming laptop than I'm used to fiddling with, that thickness makes for an incredibly sturdy unit that I could probably sit on without damaging. Probably. I'm not going to try it.
The bulky GT683DXR-423US is housed within a shiny stylized black plastic shell that reminds me of the original PlayStation Portable in terms of both shine and dust and fingerprint attractiveness. Further ensuring that everyone knows this isn't a dedicated Microsoft Office workstation, the unit is festooned with strips of glowing orange LEDs along the sides, top, and front, all of which can be turned off with the press of a button in case you want to look more studious while leveling your Khajiit at Starbucks.
• Intel® Core™ i7-2630QM Processor
• Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium 64bit
• 15.6" Full HD Display (16:9; 1920 x 1080)
• NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 570M discrete graphics (DDR5 1.5GB VRAM)
• Accelerated performance with MSI TDE Technology
• MSI Cooler Boost Technology
• Dynaudio Premium Sound Speakers
• THX TruStudio PRO™ provides excellent surround sound effect
• 1TB hard drive in Raid 0
• 12GB DDR3 system memory
• USB 3.0 for high speed data transfer
• HDMI 1.4 (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) output
• Built-in 720p HD webcam
• 802.11 b/g/ n Wireless LAN with Bluetooth
Overall the unit's design is rather sweet, though I might have preferred the shiny surface be replaced with the attractive carbon fiber-like honeycomb plastic that covers the wrist rest and track pad, attracting less finger prints and more admiring stares from onlookers in the process.
While we're on the subject of shiny things, the unit's 15-inch 1080p LCD panel is as glossy and gorgeous as the glass of a freshly-polished candy counter, adding vibrant tang to anything displayed upon it. While some folks prefer a more subdued display more akin to today's standalone monitors, I like my gaming laptops glossy and reflective. I'm sure if I were the sort to play Battlefield 3 in the park on a beautiful sunlit afternoon it would bother me. Thankfully I'm not even sure what a park is anymore, and the sun is just a mass of incandescent gas, at least that's what They Might Be Giants tells me.
And They Might Be Giants sound pretty spectacular on the MSI GT683DXR-423US's Dynaudio premium sound speakers, especially after a little tweaking with the included THX TruStudio PRO application. When I'm using a gaming laptop in public I generally stick to a headset for sound, but when I'm at home or in the mood to be a bit of an asshole I prefer something more powerful than standard laptop speakers, and these babies deliver a fresh and juicy sound.
The MSI GT683DXR-423US took every game I threw at it and kept coming back for more. Battlefield 3 on the highest settings? No problem whatsoever. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings with the graphics cranked up to ridiculous? Not a problem. Between the Intel Core i7-2630QM Processor, the 12GB DDR3 memory, and the 1.5 GB DDR5 VRAM dedicated to the GeForce GTX 570M graphics chip there really wasn't anything this baby couldn't handle. As an instrument designed to play computer games, this is a triumph.
In fact the only feature of the MSI GT683DXR-423US that doesn't deserve a thorough tongue bath is the unit's touch pad. I realize that in the history of gaming laptop not one company has managed to create a navigation device as responsive as plugging in an external mouse, but MSI's track pad is a particularly dismal example of compromise. Prone to jerkiness and not particularly pleasant to the touch, this track pad's worst feature is the unibutton, one solid button that works on the teeter-totter principle, meaning the closer you get to the middle of the button the less likely your press will be registered. I despise this style of button consolidation, not being a big fan of trading functionality for form.
Yet even figuring in the cost of a capable external mouse the MSI GT683DXR-423US's $1,649.99 MSRP (you can easily find it for less) is still relatively low when compared to other gaming laptops with similar features. It might not have the biggest screen or the 3D bells and whistles other manufacturers are pushing these days, but with its power and price point it's a mouthful of delicious portable gaming flavor that will last a long, long time.
The MSI GT683DXR-423US is currently available for purchase at many retailers across the U.S. and Canada. Manufacturer's suggested retail price is $1,649.99. Review loaner unit provided by MSI to be returned covered in spit following publication of this review.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a great game with a great world and great music.
Some people love the music so much that they've decided to put their own spin on it. The results vary: from symphonic to shit.
After spending time on the internet, combing through what's out there, I'm done. I don't want to hear anymore—even the above par ones! The original game music is fantastic—remixing it is like splashing A1 Sauce on filet mignon. Who wants that?
Remixes include chiptune versions, trance versions, techno versions, metal versions, hair metal versions, and more.
It's out of my system. So here's a gallery of Skyrim music remixes that will either get it out of yours, make you shudder endlessly, or help you find your new favorite remix.
Beware, wedged between the diamonds, there are some truly crappy remixes.
We all know that The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a vast open-world game with the potential to keep players exploring new content until they grow old and gray. What commenter klip_twings wants to know in today's Speak Up on Kotaku is when do you stop?
How do you know when it's time to end Skyrim?
A couple days ago, I was reading a commenter here lamenting about the end of Skyward Sword — how they knew the end was inevitable, but they just couldn't help welling up with tears as the credits rolled...
But that's just not going to happen with Skyrim.
What's more likely (for me) is that I will play the game until I'm downright SICK of it, and keep playing it until I finally delete it from my HD with a flip of my middle finger. But that's a poor note to end the game on.
I'm still enjoying it. Loving it? Nah, I feel like I've seen most of what it has to offer. But I'm still curious, and not ready to put it to rest.
When do you know it's time to put this game to rest?
That's the thing about The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim; even the game's many bugs are spectacular.
Take, for instance, this video. You think: So what, one of the game's character's, Louis Letrush, running on a running horse. Seen it! But have you seen the bard using his horse's ears as a set of parallel bars, spinning from his ankles into a leisurely somersault dismount that lands him at the feet of an attacking bear that he then sets alight and kills? I didn't think so.
As seen on Reddit.
Skyrim's "Arrow in the Knee" meme didn't only inspire an epic dubstep anthem. It also inspired this tattoo.
As pointed out on Reddit, guards in the game often say, "I used to be an adventurer like you, until I took an arrow to the knee."
Tattoo artist Nikkisny originally uploaded the tattoo to website FunnyJunk, noting:
I have a lot of silly tattoos along with tattoos that mean a lot to me. I am a professional tattoo artist and plan on being heavily covered. So I do NOT need to hear people bitching about how I'll 'regret it later'. I WON'T. I DO NOT REGRET ANY OF MY TATTOOS! I only live once so I'm doing what makes me happy.. whether you approve or not!
Nikki, I used to be a professional tattoo artist like you, until...
Click the lower corner to see the full-sized image.
I used to be an adventurer like you . . [FunnyJunk Thanks tipster!]
Video game social network and stat tracking service Raptr has announced the winners of its 2011 Most Played Games awards, and while overall gamers spent more time playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 than any other 2011 title, it's The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim that walked home with the Most Played Game of 2011 award. How's that work?
Raptr's Most Played awards aren't just about how many hours the gaming community as a whole spent playing any one video game. They're about how long each individual player was engaged by each particular interactive entertainment experience. So while millions of Modern Warfare 3 players racked up enough playtime to eclipse Bethesda's latest by a full nine percent, in terms of hours spent per person and average session length, Skyrim was the clear winner.
As the chart below clearly indicates, the average player pumped a little over 20 hours into Modern Warfare 3 during its first full month of release, while role-players exploring the province of Skyrim players spent nearly a full day doing so on average. The Elder Scrolls also top Modern Warfare 3 in terms of average session length by around 45 minutes.
Mind you Raptr's methodology involves only the first month of each title's release for total time played and total time per player, measuring only the first week for average play session time. It's likely that long after Skyrim players move onto greener pastures MW3 players will still be logging in for a couple of hours a day to sharpen their skills.
Having won the overall category, Skyrim also topped the role-playing charts, trouncing its closest competitor,<a href=""> Dragon Age 2, in terms of both total time played and average time per player. Modern Warfare 3 topped the shooter list this year, showing up both Gears of War 3 and the core competition, Battlefield 3.
The rest of this year's winners are as follows:
The Most Played Open-World Game of 2011: Batman: Arkham Asylum
The Most Played Sports Game of 2011: FIFA Soccer 12
The Most Played Social Game of 2011: The Sims Social
The Most Played New IP of 2011: L.A. Noire
The Most Successful Paid-to-F2P Game of 2011: DC Universe Online
Hit up the link below to see how your favorite games of 2011 stacked up. You might be surprised.
What do you get the guy who has everything? You get him this.
He also has a nice wife. Knowing how much her husband digs The Elders Scroll V: Skyrim and knowing how hard getting him a Christmas present is, Meghan had a local artist customize an Xbox 360 controller with Skyrim etchings and place it in a velvet-lined chest.
The chest is adorned with the game's logo as well as her husband's character name and motto written in the Skyrim dragon alphabet.
Said Meghan, "I love the way it turned out!" So do we.
In today's tear-jerking and slightly spoilery edition of Speak Up on Kotaku, commenter Firescorpio tells us about a special relationship he formed in Skyrim, and how he wound up ruining it.
Today I think Skyrim for the first time made me care in a very strange way for an NPC, not even a very important one at that.
This is my third character Ulfr Jormungand a pure blood Nord, he is into the Stormcloak rebellion and he is the only one of my characters to do the Companion quest line as it seems fitting for the warrior-bred dumb Nord Ulfr is.
For some reason every time I end up choosing Whiterun as my central city. I just like it. More specifically I choose Warmaiden's forge as my forge of choice. There is a somewhat homey charm to it and the couple that runs it. Ulfberth War-Bear and Adrianne Avenicci.
Somehow Adrianne became a welcoming site to any and all of my endeavors I got accustomed to her sight as I entered the city. I got used to her working next to me in the forge whenever I crafted something.
You might even say she became the reason I kept coming back to Whiterun, even if she had nothing new to say I enjoyed bartering with her, forging and just having her around felt natural.
It felt like home....
After going through some quests in the Companions I had my first bestial rampage that fatal night. I was running low on health. The screen was turning completely black. I could barely see anything, anything but a red dot that ran towards me. I assumed it was a guard... I assumed killing it was ok....
The next morning after continuing the quest line I finally came back to Whiterun, triumphantly carrying loot I knew Adrianne would be interested in buying. Upon my entrance at 11:00 PM I waited 10 hours for her shop to open and have her as always working hard on her forge.
10:00 A.M and no signs of Adrianne so far. I told myself silly Adrianne had gotten stuck perhaps waiting one more hour would have her pop in the forge.
And so I waited one, two, three hours more and yet no sign of Adrianne. I figured sometimes she is sitting next to Ulfberth inside Warmaiden's but to no avail; I couldn't find Adrianne anywhere.
It was only when with some reluctance I made my way to the Skyforge to sell stuff to Eorlund Gray-Mane, as I walked up to the market a cold shiver ran on my back. There were three people laying down on the floor, these NPCs were asking themselves what was going on.
As I walked closer I recognized the name on my screen and the cold dead face on the ground.
It was Adrianne, my character had killed her... the one NPC I had grown attached to in the game. During my rampage I had entirely obliterated her happy existence on Skyrim.
I tried loading a previous save, but to my dismay I had nothing prior to her death. I had overwritten my save and the auto saves no longer worked thanks to my waiting.
I muttered under my breath *fuck* and eventually made my way to our kitchen where my girlfriend asked me what had happened, I probably had a big frown all over my face.
I told her about my vile deed, she just laughed and told me "Don't worry baby, you probably can bring her back to life with one of your spells, oh remember we have to be at your mom's at 10."
I ran back to Warmaiden, my character running out of breath entered the shop and tried to talk to Ulfberth, only two dialogue's where highlighted, my character asked "Who Makes your Armor and Weapons?"
Ulfberth answered "Since.. Since Adrianne's death I bring weapons from the Khajiit caravans... Ii tried making them myself but I'm no good, Adrianne was the best."
And so Adrianne Avenicci the Master Blacksmith, a hard working woman from Whiterun, the reason this player so often visited the city was no more.
Now I don't visit Whiterun at all. The rare occasion my travels lead me back to Whiterun I always end up staring at the now empty forge, hoping Adrianne will walk from behind the house and start smithing as she always did.
This is the power of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Non gamers watch this video and think they may be witnessing the powers of international televangelist Benny Hinn during one of his many faith healing summits.
Gamers watch this video and know what's really going on here: FUS RO DAH!. Good thing Hinn doesn't know "FO KRAH DIIN," or he might have gotten some of his "prophecies" right.
[Thanks Symixable, yes THAT Symixable]
Jon Fitch (above, celebrating after a win) makes his living kicking the crap out of people. As one of the world's best mixed martial artists, he's top drawer at what he does. But when he's not fighting and not training, he's thinking. About Skyrim.
From the sound of it, even when he's training and kicking people in the nose, he's thinking about Skyrim. Fitch even created a Twitter account (@FitchSkyrimTale) dedicated to his experiences and exploits in Skyrim.
Tweets like "Snow bear vs frost troll = Awesome!" and "I climbed a water fall near markarth an found the lover stone. All skills improve faster. That's tits!"
It's a lot of minutia, as well as practical advice! And that's probably the point.
As of Dec. 3, Fitch's Dark Elf is at Level 47. Fitch is slated to fight Johnny Hendricks on Dec. 30 in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand. Something tells me that right now he's thinking more about hitting Level 50 than Hendricks...
And you thought Kotaku was obsessed with Skyrim. Ha!