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REVIEW: Skyrim (Xbox 360)

It’s hard to avoid the video game maelstrom that is Skyrim. You may have been subjected to an enthused ‘Skyrim-off’ between two colleagues, complete with wild hand gestures, words that you would definitely challenge in a game of Scrabble and the kind of smugness that can only be shared between people who have just a) slept together b) seen their team win a derby match or c) played the same computer game extensively. You may even have quietly contemplated how several of your friends suddenly have stories about their exciting lives before they took an arrow to the knee. If so, either get used to it, or join us.

Skyrim is the fifth game in The Elder Scrolls series, and follows Oblivion, a game that took over my life for many months. In a nutshell you will spend most of your time trying to track down a dragon god, taking sides in a civil war, completing some side quests, and wandering around. A lot.

I’m a total sucker for free-roam. Stick me on a horse and give me a sword and I’ll be happy for hours. So, on this basic level, Skyrim delivers. Oh boy, does it deliver. The world is enormous – 125 hours in and I’m still discovering new places. The day-to-night transitions and weather systems make the world feel ultra realistic – I was caught in a blizzard and it gave me chills. The creatures of Skyrim are beautifully designed, particularly the fire-breathing you-know-whats. The voice acting is a massive improvement and the soundtrack is perfect.

It is not without it’s faults though, so look away if you don’t want to hear it. First, there is no city comparable to Imperial City in Cyrodiil. I loved roaming around this curious metropolis in Oblivion, it added variety to the vast wilderness beyond the Walls. Second, I am so sick of snow. This only struck me at around the 80 hour mark. Yes I know it’s like going swimming and saying it’s too wet. I have no defence for this statement. Third, the game has a stunningly exciting series of cutscenes towards the start. After that, not much else. There were one or two key points in the storyline which could have have been magic with the right scene mixed in, but ended up a bit of an anticlimax. Fourth, following questlines are tricky. The journal doesn’t keep the history from the quests so my goldfish memory can’t handle more than four tasks at a time. Unfortunately you can barely move ten paces without being asked to reunite long-lost cousins or pick up someone’s dry-cleaning so I was stuffed there really. That’s it. Done with the negatives.

Companions. What a stroke of genius. When I’m in full swing with a game that I am ‘really into’, the only thing that can coax me away from my slightly sweaty limited edition Fable controller, apart from kitchen and bathroom breaks, is the nagging awareness that it has been over 24 hours since I have left the house or talked to another human being.

No longer a problem in Skyrim! You can buy a friend, dress them up and shove them face-first towards an approaching pack of wolves, thus further blurring my understanding of what is acceptable behaviour in real life. Not only do they not question your demands, they will helpfully point out caves, carry your stuff and, if you play your cards right, might even marry you. If I mix my Skyrim experiences with my GTA experiences, well, just keep half an eye on me if I’m on the beers.

And I’ll finish with a picture of my new ring, made by Nina Mantra. Bought due to it’s distinct resemblance to one of the more beautiful objects in Tamriel:

 

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Twentea Six
July 22, 2011, 11:28 am
Filed under: other

One of the best things about having time on your hands is being able to work on something until your friends wonder if there really is something wrong with you. In celebration of turning 26 I decided to have a little tea party, which was a perfect excuse to show off my new-found baking and sewing ‘skills’. We also had the excitement of having twenty six types of tea to sample. I sewed bunting and a tablecloth, made sandwiches, and baked cookies and cupcakes. The teacups were salvaged from various charity and vintage shops in neighbouring towns. Croquet and Boules and tiny dogs ensued. It was WILD.



Weekend in Polperro
July 14, 2011, 9:47 am
Filed under: other

Last weekend a friend and I travelled down to the sleepy Cornish harbour of Polperro, in search of the Ring a good old fashioned English adventure. We certainly did find that, plus cream teas, wild horses, friendly locals, friendly cattle and great food (as long as you ordered by 8.30pm latest!). A selection of photos from the trip below:

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All photos taken by myself, apart from the image of the horses, and me and the cow, which were taken by Meg Grogan.



An open letter to Topshop
October 7, 2010, 11:34 am
Filed under: other | Tags: , , , , , ,

Dear Topshop,

I am sorry to report that I will not be shopping with you again in the forseeable future. You have lost a loyal advocate purely on the grounds that you are wholly unable to communicate with your customers.

I visited the store on Friday 1st October to browse through your shoe department and found a pair I liked, however the price was not labelled. I wandered around for several minutes trying to find someone to help me, before coming across a group of your employees chatting loudly in the middle of the store, about their weekend plans. I’m not fussed by things like this usually, however it was lunchtime, the store was heaving, and there were other customers looking for assistance too. When I finally got their attention, I was told rudely by one of the girls that the shoes were £100 before she turned back to her conversation.

Irritated, but still keen to purchase the shoes, I took them to the counter to pay. Imagine my surprise when the cashier asked me for £160, not the £100 I was told they were. Embarrassed, I left the shoes at the counter and left the store very disappointed.

When I got back to my office I did what many would do and tried to communicate this issue with you via Twitter. Maintaining such an active twitter stream, I expected you to be listening as well as broadcasting, but I guess I was wrong. After several hours and no response, I tried again. Straight away another user commented on the situation and his message was retweeted by other users. Clearly an issue I’m not alone on.

Still no sign of acknowledgement from you, and very irritated, I decided to email your customer services department later that day. I even offered some professional advice on how to better manage your twitter feed. Straight away an auto-reply came back which informed me that “this is an acknowledgement only and we will reply to you within 24 hours”.

106 hours later and now very angry, I decided to email you one more time before venting my frustration and disappointment on my blog. Another auto-‘acknowledgement’ and another let down. Blog post it is then.

So, if anyone from Topshop is listening, let me summarise. Customers do not like to be ignored, least of all when they have an issue they need to communicate to you. All it needed was a friendly tweet saying ‘sorry to hear about your experience, we’ve taken note of it’. Having an online presence is a good thing, but only if you intend to engage with your community instead of spewing brand messages out aimlessly. Imagine meeting a friend to tell them something important, and they spend the entire hour talking about themselves and not listening to a word you say. Annoying, right?

You would do yourself a big favour if you spent more time nurturing relationships with your online community instead of, quite frankly, exploiting the following you have. If you damage one relationship online, you bear a significant risk of damaging a relationship with an entire community.

Over to you, Topshop. Let’s talk.

Regards,

Lauren Severin (laurenseverin@gmail.com)

*UPDATE 15:35 07/10/10: Topshop responded to me shortly after I posted, very apologetic but only addressing the poor in-store experience. I have requested a response about the Twitter / communication issue and I will update again.

*UPDATE 22/10/10 I recieved another email, this time from the Arcadia Group, who had been alerted to my post via Twitter and they wrote a very sincere apology about my difficulty in getting through to them via email and Twitter. I don’t know if it will change anything in the grand scheme but we can only hope. Thanks to everyone in my community for shouting about it and thanks to Topshop / Arcadia for eventually addressing the matter.



something in the air
February 17, 2009, 12:29 am
Filed under: design, other

I’m probably letting myself get carried away, but i swear it’s nearly summer. Today, i couldn’t even see my own breath AND i was outside. Seriously. So, i recommend we all join the cloud appreciation society, in preparation for, what i believe is going to our best summer yet. And in case you wondered, the CASs ‘cloud of the month’ is pictured above. It really doesn’t get much better than that, people.

On a different note, YouTube have decided to go all bitter about something and make their video templates ugly as sin, so they have been banished from idreamelectric indefinately. You can now find them over at idreamelectro, which, as i’m sure you’ll agree, is music to your ears.

Happy cloud gazing.



starry eyed
December 2, 2008, 7:22 pm
Filed under: other, photography | Tags: , , ,

i can’t believe i missed this… on Sunday night Venus, Jupiter and the moon joined forces to make a smiley face in the sky. (well, in some parts of the world – in the UK, by some stroke of cosmic brilliance, it formed a frowny face. but we can ignore this)



thailand
November 25, 2008, 11:12 pm
Filed under: other | Tags: , , ,


utilised my jet lag and roughly tacked together a few random clips from my trip to thailand. enjoy!