Yeah, but I had bought several other games that were 'big' games and had rented other 'big' games and been severely disappointed with all of them (save the fight night game, which was fun, but got boring...)
It's just weird. I can play Punchout endlessly on the NES. I can play San Andreas forever. I still play my old NES, SNES and Playstation games. I play a few games on the PS2 (psychonaughts is another one I try to break out once a year or so), but I can't seem to get 'into' a lot of new games. The last game I played quite a bit that I actually kinda liked was Left 4 Dead 2. Skyrim is a ton of fun until you start hitting the ceiling, which seems to happen at about lvl 40 or so. By that time you've probably seen everything the game has to offer and what's left is variation on that previous stuff. The previous stuff just wasn't compelling enough for me to want to continue doing it.
However, if you were to slightly change certain things in skyrim, that game would be tons and tons of fun, but it would be different from previous games. I guess that's kinda bad, in terms of giving players more of the same, but it would at least give them more freedom to experiment. You could make a magic system where you were learning basic spells and then you could combine those words to create new spells, wich the mana cost being the total cost for every word. You could then write your own custom spells and add them to your own personal spell book. Whip it out and "alakazam!" - you just cast freeze, chain lightning, three homing fireballs and soul capture on five enemies at once, costing you some ridiculous amount of your super-leveled character's vast mana reserve. The higher you level your magic skills, the less you'd be spending on whatever type of magic you're casting. Would be very useful for certain types of spell (invisible + silent movement + fleetfoot to get past a large group of high-level guards without a fight, etc)
You could make similar alterations to the crafting, enchanting and alchemy systems and end up with an unbelievably massive amount of neat stuff that the player would be more interested in doing. More than just dumping a dozen or so different types of weapon or armor for them to make. They could have easily created a system that allowed you to make any number of unique items that all had different stats and usefulnesses depending on what sort of metal, leather, etc you were using. Add gems and patterns to pimp your armor and weapons out. Have a blade / hilt system that allowed players to create a number of different types of blades and attach them to any number of different hilts instead of just ten or so of everything. You could have had a diamond-encrusted, gold engraved silver falchion of Flame Cloak. Instead you have a long-sword of one-handed-damage named "longsword of one-handed damage"
I mean, they put a ton of effort into the world and I appreciate that, but I think a lot of the design decisions they made really limited the scope of the game when it came to the finer details.
I think the thing is that back in the day, those old NES / SNES and Playstation games were difficult. They were a challenge. How many NES games have you ever beat? SNES? PSX? When I was a kid the only NES games I had that I had actually beaten were the mario games, Megaman 2, Contra, Castlevania and Punch-out. Punch-out took me WEEKS of diligent practice and too many failed attempts to count, but I finally beat it.
I beat the main quest in Skyrim so easily, I kinda thought it was a trick... like that (spoiler) was gonna show up for the real final battle any moment. The first battle was just too damn easy. In fact, the first time I fought a dragon in the wild at random I about had a heart attack. And then I shot it with some arrows and hid behind a rock. It would fly in a circle a couple times then land in the same spot and stand there while I rained arrows down on it. It died and I was barely hurt. Were it not for the cheap insta-death move they have, My guy could easily take them out with a sword. Dragons should be nigh unkillable. But you can kill them with barely any effort at very low level. One of the very first things you do in the game is kill a dragon. When that happened I was so disappointed that I didn't play it for a couple days just to come to grips with it. There are videos of people on youtube spawning and fighting multiple dragons at once. This should be suicide. It is such a poor design decision that that alone kinda breaks the game for me. Were it not for the fact that dragons only play a marginal role in the gameplay (if not the story), that I can live with it. Besides, they basically show up every five minutes after you beat the game. They're more like pests now than enemies to be feared. I don't say "Holy shit it's a DRAGON!" I say "shit... another god damn dragon..." and proceed to rain hell upon it as though it were a flying rat.
Arkham Asylum was the same way. I died a few times in that game due to falling off something a few times and I had to fight the next-to-last fight a few times before I got past it, and that's it. I beat it in a few days of play... maybe 10 hours total. Maybe less. Poison Ivy took a few tries as well.
Batman on the NES is so god damn hard I can barely get TO the first boss, let alone beat him, but for some reason I'd much rather play it than play arkham asylum again. I dunno. Just personal preference. I'm not gonna sit here and say that X game is complete shit (have I said that already? hehe), but a lot of the newer stuff I've played is just too bland and tedious and ugly-looking for me to enjoy.
It's probably just the way two different brains function or something. Like when I'm playing a tactics game, I'm not thinking about it in terms of micro-management. I'm thinking in terms of "what sort of load-out should I give each of these twelve characters for the next mission..." and I tend to give my characters their own personality and move them around according to it. "What would X do in this situation? Probably run for his damn life! *click*". So I guess in a sense it's more like I'm playing with toys rather than playing a game. You find it tedious, but you seem to really enjoy the narratives (especially the ones with decent characterizations and depth, apparently) and get into that. So maybe we could extrapolate that people like me like to have blank slate characters we can give our own personalities to and play around with, while people like you like to become immersed in an interesting and creative narrative and play a role within that narrative?
Maybe generalizing a bit, here, since I do play that sort of game now and then. Halflife is about 80% scripted sequence, but it's just so well done that it's almost impossible to not like it. I'm guessing the ME series is up on that level of games based on the massive amount of people who swear by it. Most games have a little mix of both categories, anyway.
I'm just kinda think-typing, so don't take offence at anything if I say something stupid. I just like thinking about and having conversations about games like this, cause the medium itself is so young and there are so many different ways to approach it. I think we've only scratched the surface of what's capable with it. Games may be the only thing I love as much as movies, but it's a more theoretical love right now, as there are few games that I've ever played that have made me say "wow, these guys are really doing something extremely interesting with this medium". The GTA series did that for me starting with 3. Dwarf Fortress. Arma 2. Back in the day, Privateer did it. The ultima games did it (4 and 5 especially).
Now that I think about it, PC games 20 years ago were by and large FAR more advanced than most modern games by a long shot. The graphics weren't as good and they're much more challenging, but a number of those older games are to this day probably the best examples of their genre to date. Play Elite some time when you get a chance. It's a ridiculously huge and detailed world with 3D graphics, an intricate multi-star-system economy, a complex political system, etc and it could fit on a few floppy diskettes.