Review by samoscratch

"Truly refreshing experience with obligatory pitfalls"

Having never played any of the preceding Bethesda titles, I found Morrowind to be a truly fun and immersive experience, with slight problems such as weak character development,steep requirements and a few bugs here and there. Onto the review:

Gameplay:
As I mentioned before, I never picked up any of the other titles(Daggerfall is still sitting on my hard drive, untouched) so the gameplay experience simply blew all gaming concepts known to me out of the water. There's nothing more gratifying then being able to ignore an NPC's plea for help(and give 'em a good slap with your sword) or add that shiny new shield to your inventory through home invasion. There is a high level of interactivity and you can expect to interact with or pick up anything you fancy. You are basically free to do what you want, but if you ever hope to lure a guard into a dark alley and actually win the fight, you have to focus on leveling up your skills( which you can buy as training or level up by using the actual skill itself). Choosing your character's attributes and skill points may leave you feeling a bit overwhelmed since there are so many options to a first timer, but if your feeling inexperienced you can take a personality test or choose a prefabricated generic template (thieves are fun!!!). Character's range from mage's to thieves to fighters, variety is definitely not a problem. You are free to join guilds (multiple at a time) from which you get quests, which advance your rank upon completion and earns you trust between your fellow guildmates. The quests are sometimes dull e.g. get me samples of this mushroom from lalaland and bring back, but there are also more intriguing ones that can be solved multiple ways e.g. murder,pickpocketing,persuasion etc.. but it's a lot of fun to just explore the gigantic world. Another fun aspect of the game is the persuasion factor, which basically let's you get good deals on merchandise,extract information or get someone to just plain smitten you with affection, you're able to change their disposition towards you by bribing them(gold),taunting, admiring and/or intimidating them. Your ability to pull this off successfully depends on your level of speechcraft points. The NPC's reactions to you sometimes don't coincide to your immediate situation though, and will fluctuate for no reason at times. Also there really isn't any NPC character development and you'll get sick of hearing mindless drones repeat the same sentence again and again(which can always be remedied with a stabee). The fighting in this game is pretty terrible as there are no health indicators letting you know how close you are to beating your enemy to a pulp, and the actual melee control is really cumbersome and inacurate seeming. It mainly consists of hack and slash. The spells can be put on a quick bar which helps out a great deal at times and there is a huge variety of magic you can learn (you can even make your own). One downside to this game is the bugs and random crashes, so I advise saving frequently, but a lot of bugs are beneficial and lucrative so no biggie. Currently I'm running this game on a 733mhz machine with 895 of ram and I get choppiness in big towns sometimes, but it's definitely still playable, so shove some ram into your machine.

Story
Well..it's almost non-existent. You wake up on a ship to find that you've arrived in morrowind and are being released. After the initial character creation there isn't much more, other than the quests. But I like the idea of defining your character by his/her actions if only the NPC's had more of a reaction and your reputation affected gameplay more. IMHO I prefer to have minimal story and more freedom.

Graphics
The way they are supposed to look is truly amazing! if you have a video card that supports pixel shading! i'm stuck with a low end geforce4 mx440 so the graphics look nice and detailed just not as splendid. It definitely doesn't take away from the overall experience though, as there are frequent weather changes, and amazing storm effects. You can play in 1st/3rd person throughout the whole game and there is even a vanity mode which shows your character from the front(for screenshots). Sometimes gazing up into the sky will leave you breathless as there is such an amount of detail put into everything. there is a wide variety of armor/weapons and the such, so you'll never get bored. The environments are well designed and will definitely suck you in and make you feel a part of it all. very nicely done.

Sound
your typical medieval theme tootin along, after a while you won't even notice it anymore. the music does change according to your situation and npc's will yell and show their hatred for you, proclaiming that your pain shall end soon or commanding that you die. Weapons cling and clang and spells have your stereotypical magical noises. some of the weather related effects(thunder) are really amazing though, and will surely rattle you a bit the first time you hear them. nothing spectacular overall though.

Playtime/Replayability
well seeing as this game is so non linear, open-ended whatever you prefer, every time you begin a new character you can play differently. Decide you want to go on rampage and slaughter a town?, so be it. Want citizens to pathetically grovel at your feet in adoration, it can be done!. Want to actually level your character and complete quests, ok!. With the included editor the possibilities are endless as you can create your own quests,itmes, towns tec... Finally a game where you really can do whatever you like.

Final Recomendation
Aside from the bugs,and the steep computer requirements this is definitely a game you shouldn't pass up! No matter what faults a game has, when it's a genre buster like this one, it has to be experienced at least once. If you're feeling like all rpg's you're playing are becoming a chore, get this game, it definitely offers something to all types of gamers. hopefully Bethesda has provided an archetype of the games to come.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 06/21/03, Updated 06/21/03


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