Sometimes video games give user the choice of whether to be a hero or villain who does whatever the hell he wants, and we’ll never understand people who choose the former route. Especially when a game such as ‘The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim’ makes it so fun to be bad.

In real life, you can’t roam around shooting magic fireballs at innocent villagers or surly shopkeepers. This is partly due to the nonexistence of magic fireballs, but mainly because of what people call “social norms.”

‘Skyrim,’ however, practically begs you to roam around and create as much havoc as Charlie Sheen on a bender. This is a game that allows you to be an actual warlock, and even one with not only tiger blood but a tiger head.

The game does roll out a set of missions that you can complete in order to advance, but whenever it tells us we’ve got a new quest, we think you’re supposed to yell “Don’t tell me my bidness, devil woman!” like the old man in ‘Billy Madison’ so you can get on with your slaying, thieving and whoring.

For us, ‘Skyrim’ is not the story of a hero with a spiritual connection to dragons who will bring peace to the land, but one of the dickhead who roams the countryside swiping horses for joyrides and farmer’s daughters for long walks at night. Or maybe the other way around.

It’s a ridiculous amount of fun to do something terrible, then surrender to the guards who take you in. The midieval realm has yet to fashion a prison that can hold the likes of us. You either bribe the higher-ups, pick a lock and make a run or sleep off your sentence and get back to your career of messing with the humongous virtual toybox.

‘Skyrim’ encourages and rewards your malfeasance because the more you do things, the better you become at them. Steal a bunch of stuff and you’re a more effective thief. Pick a bunch of dungeon cell locks and you become an escape artist. Slaughter enough innocents and a gang of cool people called the Dark Brotherhood will come calling and invite you to join up.

The way your actions leave a lasting impact on the environment — for instance, kill a shopkeeper and his daughter will take over and give you the stink eye — just makes it more hilarious.

It’s also fun to start spontaneous conversations with people you run into. A bunch of them are afraid of the dragons. “Fellas,” we think, “you really ought to be more afraid of me.”

RATING: 9.5/10

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim  ($60), was developed and published by Bethesda is available on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Rated M. The publisher provided a copy of the game for review.

Read Phil Villarreal’s blog at and follow him on Twitter: @philvillarreal

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