Skyrim soars with open-world gameplay

On Nov. 11 Bethesda Softworks released The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the fifth installment in the Elder Scrolls video game series. The company has given gamers previous blockbuster titles such as The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Fallout 3.

Skyrim follows the story of the Dragonborn, a warrior with the ability to absorb the souls of dragons and gain their powers. The player takes up the mantle of the Dragonborn in a time when the province of Skyrim is facing the return of dragons that had disappeared many hundreds of years ago. 

Since the beginning of the franchise, its developers have taken pride that every Elder Scrolls game exists as an entirely open world, meaning the player can travel anywhere and do anything. There is, of course, a main storyline in every game but there are no rules as to when you have to play it. 

Skyrim shows quite clearly that the developers took the pros and cons of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion into account while designing the game. The third entry in the series lacked a leveling system of any sort, which allowed the player to encounter creatures and items that were really meant for a player on a level far higher than their own. The fourth entry went in the opposite direction and made everything leveled so that the player always encountered creatures and items equivalent to their own level. Skyrim, however, creates a kind of hybrid system of the two.

It is difficult not to get lost in the incredible natural environments with realistic grass, trees and even wind to blow through them. Wild animals like wolves don't sneak up on you. The player can hear them snarling and hitting the ground, even if the marvelously composed battle music isn't enough to warn of an enemy nearby. 

Although gamers today tend to favor online multiplayer games, Skyrim is not one of those. All the same, its immersive environment and lively, well-crafted characters make up for it. 

For any player of the Elder Scrolls series, the idea of losing a day in a new game is nothing new and Skyrim is no different. The game is rocking college campuses around the country and it will likely be the role-playing game discussed for years to come.

Knights dominate in overtime, defeat rival Red Dragons

On Tuesday Dec. 6 the women's basketball team opened up its conference schedule at home with a 12-point overtime victory against bitter rival SUNY Cortland. 

"I think it was great the way they came out tonight emotionally and mentally," head coach Scott Hemer said. "Obviously anytime you get a win out of the gate in conference against a perennial favorite that's a successful night."

The Knights and Red Dragons last met in the second round of the 2010-2011 SUNYAC tournament, a game that Geneseo won 69-55. Tuesday night's game, however, had a much different makeup. 

After trading the lead multiple times throughout the course of the contest, the two teams entered the five-minute overtime period deadlocked at 63-63. It was a different story, however, once overtime began.

The Knights quickly pulled away thanks to a key three-point shot by senior Meghan Prue and clutch free throw shooting by junior Melissa Graham and sophomore Lea Sobieraski. Geneseo dominated defensively, holding Cortland scoreless throughout overtime, securing the 75-63 victory.

"We stuck to what we wanted to do. We stuck to defense, we stuck to getting rebounds and ultimately that led us to win the game," Prue said about the team's performance in overtime. 

"All we ever ask them to do is control what we can control and they did that tonight," Hemer said. "We didn't change a whole lot all night except we made a couple simple adjustments defending the low post and a couple screen situations, but for the most part we had a game plan going in and we knew what we wanted to do and it was just a matter of them executing it." 

Graham led the Knights with 24 points while Prue logged a breakout performance with 15 points and seven rebounds, shooting 4-7 from beyond the arc. 

"I thought it was a great team effort," Prue said. "I normally haven't been able to take [a more offensive] role and for the first time my teammates realized I could step up and they realized I was feeling it and got me the ball."

On Dec. 1 and 3 the Knights wrapped up play at the Wendy's Classic tournament with a loss to St. John Fisher College, 45-51 and a victory against SUNY Brockport, 70-36. Overall, the Knights improve to 4-2 on the season and 1-0 in SUNYAC play. 

Geneseo embarks on its North Country road trip to SUNY Plattsburgh and SUNY Potsdam on Dec. 9 and 10. 

"It's always a difficult trip especially since the ladies have exams and papers due next week," Hemer said. "It's a lot of late night travel, but obviously we want to go in and try to win some ball games. I think that's a no-brainer."


Indian cuisine in Henrietta

On West Henrietta Road sits Taste of India, a restaurant full of rich flavors and recipes that will undoubtedly leave you satisfied. Upon entry, the smell of the cuisine pervades the quiet and undisturbed dining area, stimulating your taste buds and growling stomach.

Arriving with a large appetite is the key to experiencing the delectable flavors from India. But don't worry about having to suffer a long, hungry wait, as you will promptly be served papad, a thin, crisp traditional cracker, accompanied by multiple dipping sauces.

If you're dining in a group, why not start with an appetizer of aloo samosas, deep-fried pastry dough stuffed with mashed potatoes and green peas for only $3? The warm spices will only encourage you to savor every bite. The chicken pakora is another great starter, with mildly spiced boneless chicken pieces dipped in thick batter and fried.  

Overwhelmed by the menu's wide variety? For a reasonable price the chicken tikka masala – chicken tikka cooked with fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic, ginger and bell peppers served with Basmati rice – is an authentic dish appealing to a large audience of eaters. Naan, white flour bread baked in a Tandoor, is a perfect table-order to share, as you can dip it into the sauce of whatever you eat for a spotless plate. And don't avoid experimenting for fear of a singed tongue, because no matter what you order, the server will make sure to ask what level of spiciness you prefer.

If you're feeling adventurous, the menu offers the Chef's Special – a platter showcasing dishes baked in a traditional Indian clay oven. Chicken tandoori, chicken malai kebab, boti kebab, seekh kebab, shrimp and your choice of curry is served on a sizzling plate with authentic spices and a basket of naan.

For all those vegetarians out there who love a spicy dinner, the restaurant has over 20 vegetarian dishes, along with vegan options upon request.  

Taste of India hosts a lunch buffet Monday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., and a dinner buffet Mondays 5 – 9 p.m.

La Casa Hispánica hosts spelling bee, raises money for service project

Geneseo's Spanish Club – La Casa Hispánica – held its first Spanish spelling bee on Wednesday Nov. 30 in Newton Hall. Each contestant was given a word to spell using the letters of the Spanish alphabet. They had one chance to respell the word if they thought they had made a mistake by raising their hand to get the attention of the judges: Rose McEwen, chair of the foreign languages and literatures department, Spanish professor Joaquín Gómez and Spanish professor Lori Bernard.

The bee lasted six rounds, with the final round consisting of a face-off between the two remaining contestants: senior Laura Darmstadt and sophomore Matt Pechman. After an extended back and forth between the two Darmstadt spelled her given word, azotea, correctly, beating out Pechman, who took second place. Since prizes were given out for the top three placing contestants, the four competitors who were eliminated from the previous round battled in a sudden death for third place. Eventually, senior Bruna Garcia claimed the third-place spot.

The contest was divided into six levels, or niveles, of words to spell. Nivel uno had the least challenging words such as leche, amor and barato. The levels increased in difficulty until nivel seis with words like lagartija, zurcir and zanquilargo.

Each guest and contestant was given a raffle ticket at the beginning of the event, and the raffle draw was held after the conclusion of the spelling bee. Prizes included gift certificates to Mama Mia's, Pizza Paul's, Geneseo Family Restaurant and Swain Sports, as well as the grand prize of an iPod shuffle. The prizes were given out to a variety of competitors, guests and Spanish club members.

Entrance to compete in the bee cost $2 and a portion of this revenue will be donated to a service project in El Sauce, Nicaragua. A program through Geneseo allows students to travel down to El Sauce where they complete community service in the area. The club also collected school supplies to send down to a local school for the children.

 "We've definitely started a new tradition for Spanish club," sophomore Vice President Bobby Hannah said. With high attendance, good energy and solid sportsmanship throughout the event, the Spanish spelling bee this semester deemed itself a success. "It was a lot of work, but everything fell into place," Hannah said.

Opportunities arise with inclusive learning program

The Learning Independence, Vocational and Educational Skills Program at Geneseo gives students with intellectual or developmental disabilities the chance to learn skills in an inclusive community. 

Creator and coordinator of the program Elizabeth Hall, an assistant professor in the School of Education, founded the L.I.V.E.S. program four years ago in collaboration with other special education professionals, in an attempt to supplement New York's infamously lacking accommodations for students with special needs.

The goal for each student is to earn an Individualized Education Program diploma – a certificate of attendance which requires four-year dedication. Currently, Geneseo is the only school in the SUNY system with such a program.

"We have grown from four to 20 students in less than four years and our first group graduates this year," Hall said. "They have presented at three statewide special education conferences and three G.R.E.A.T. [Geneseo Recognizes Excellent and Talent] days."

Hall shared that although there has been exceptional growth, she would like to see more awareness of the program. "I wish that more of the campus body would recognize that this program exists and the accomplishments of the students within the program," Hall said. "It would be great if more people would be willing to work with the students and that more professors would let them audit their courses."

Some L.I.V.E.S. students are also active around the campus outside of classes. Five have joined campus clubs or organizations and three juniors and four seniors have all started internships. 

"It's a program for students with varied abilities," junior program member Jewley Spencer said. "We're getting a certification, auditing classes and participating in work placement."

"I was very nervous my freshman year," senior member Justine Deluca said. "It was great meeting instructors and new friends, though."

Spencer mentioned that this has been a great experience that has helped them both "become more comfortable in the community" and to "not be so shy in front of a group."

"Everyone else enjoys it. We wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the L.I.V.E.S. program," Spencer said. "We have the best teachers we could ask for."

"The administration is fully supportive of the program and we're very thankful for that," Hall said.