Review by Shent
"Don't be "oblivious" to the fact: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion definitely lives up to its hype."
Despite the lame "semi-pun" in the tagline of the review, there is nothing lame about Oblivion...except the...no, wait...it's almost perfect!
Now, I'll be honest, I've never played any of the earlier titles in the Elder Scrolls series, except a few minutes of Morrowind on a friend's console, so The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion didn't seem like much to me.
Thankfully, I bought the game, played it--for hours--, and I must say: IT IS AMAZING! It truly does live up to all the hype its received, without disappointment.
However, don't get me wrong, it does have its flaws, but then again, don't all games/movies/etc. have their flaws? Everything has some sort of imperfection or imperfections, but in Oblivion's case, they are easily overlooked, by the stunning amount of detail put into the game's world, known as "Tamriel." Cyrodiil, another name constantly mentioned during gameplay refers to the Imperial (a playable race, which is basically your average modern-day human) homeland. Some confuse Cyrodiil with Tamriel, thinking Cyrodiil is the world the player and everyone else resides in, but no, it's Tamriel.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
[Gameplay] -- 10/10
One thing that, from what I can gather, the Elder Scrolls series usually uses is a real-time battle system, none of that Final Fantasy-ish turn-based stuff, not that there's anything wrong with that style of combat. This is a good thing, as this game would really be...different if you had to wait after each attack on the enemy, and then instead of manual dodging and blocking, you'd have to rely on stats and skills.
Fortunately, that isn't the case. In addition to the wonderful combat system, Oblivion possesses amazing, though not at all flawless, artificial intelligence. Most, if not all, non-player characters in Tamriel have their own fully scripted daily routine, with the exception of quest-specific characters of course. Now, supposedly, there was an earlier AI system, which had even more randomness and possibility than the one we see on the retail version. It was edited due to some...unexpected yet hilarious NPC actions. Although I'm almost sure there is or will be some day a mod for this AI system (I wonder if that "Radiant AI" thing is close to it?), until then, we won't really be able to see it.
No big deal, moving on. This one is probably one of the most impressive features in the game: the character generator, or "CharGen" for short. Now, while some wrestling games may sport a near-perfect system for designing a new character, Oblivion has boasting rights for itself. Although it's easy to ruin a character's face with inexperience, the possibilities for the CharGen are, not literally, endless! The hair styles are lacking, however, but there are plenty of mods out there for just this thing.
The game has several mini-quests and adventures, leaving hours of gameplay, and don't forget the main quest. Yes, Oblivion has its own storyline quest, which is odd at first, but later on it becomes a bit more interesting and deep. But I won't spoil anything!
Oh! One more thing, I forgot to mention. Oblivion has the Havok physics engine, which means ragdoll and interactable environment! It's features like these that really benefit a game. Very, very nice.
[Graphics] -- 10/10
Ah, yes, of course, graphics, referred to by many underage users as the "backbone" of any video game. Although graphics aren't everything in my book (seeing as Star Ocean: The Second Story remains my favorite game ever, well, next the Zelda series, I guess), Oblivion does not disappoint at all. Bethesda Softworks did a wonderful job with the environments, the characters, and heck, even the weapons and equipment. Now, due to some mod or drivers I downloaded, all the lightning is screwed up in my game, leaving everything lit up, even at night. It looks fine, and makes it easy to see, and it also allows me to run many other things on high, but sometimes I do miss the amazing lightning in Oblivion, and if you have the computer to run it, I hear the graphics are amazing. HDR, Anti-Aliasing (though they say you can't run AA and HDR simultaneously), high resolutions, yeah, must be nice, heh.
Anyway, yes, I have seen screenshots of the game with everything, or most things, on high and up all the way, and it is visually breathtaking. The grass, the trees, everything, it just looks amazing, and makes "exploring" actually fun.
[Sound] -- 8/10
Audio, meh. I wasn't that impressed with the overall sound effects of Oblivion, but Jeremy Soule has really outdone himself this time. Yep, Jeremy Soule, the man who has done countless music tracks for several other games, such as Guild Wars, and even The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, has returned to do more music for Oblivion. I don't put the music slider up all the way, but I can still hear it clearly, and the music really matches the current surroundings, and the battle music enters in perfectly, right as an enemy approaches, or you approach an enemy.
The sound effects, however, were GOOD, but not GREAT. Nah, I ain't a perfectionist, but I noticed it. The spell sounds could've been much better, although the sword-clashing sound effects and blocking were nice, it's just that everything else seemed to be half-arsed. Also, let's not forget that for some reason, on my piece of crap computer (seriously, heh), there's a lot of "audio stutter" going on, especially with too many people in one place. It's hard to explain, it's like when an NPC is training in the arena bloodworks, and hits a target dummy with their weapon. Well, since there are quite a few people in this room, the weapon hits, makes a sound effect, and before it's halfway done with said sound effect, it cuts out. I used the arena bloodworks place because that's really where I started noticing this, heh. But otherwise, the sound is usually properly-working.
[Controls] -- 10/10
There isn't much to say here: the controls in Oblivion are fully customizable, from movement to hot-keys (well, kind of) and spell-casting. No troubles or complaints.
[Story] -- 8/10
Now, the story of Oblivion is good, but it's not perfect, and I can't get into detail without spoiling anything.
So, I'll just give a very brief introduction. Your newly created character starts off in a cell in the Imperial City Prison, right across the hall from another cell containing a Dark Elf (who becomes part of a certain quest later on, but we won't get into that =P) who begins blabbing on about stuff specific to your character's selected race. For example, if you pick Imperial, he says something along the lines of, "So, they don't play favorites in the Imperial..." something or other, I dunno, something like that. Anyway, believe it or not, this is actually a lucky day for your character, as he or she is soon greeted by, GASP! (Corny, I know), the emperor and some of his Blades (Sort like the president's secret service)! They babble amongst themselves about how this cell should be vacant, but dismiss it as they are in a hurry.
Anyway, the point is, don't worry, your guy or gal gets out of that prison, and from then on, you can CHOOSE to complete the main quest, or go do whatever the heck you want, almost like the sandbox/free-roam environment in Grand Theft Auto, though much larger.
[Overall] -- 10/10
Overall, I have to give Oblivion a perfect score. It's simply that good. Sure, there are glitches, bugs, exploits, etc., but there's already a couple patches out from the creators themselves, as well as a few mods. However, you have to pay a couple dollars for each one (I know, right, what the hell?), though they're apparently pretty good.
Meh, I'll stick to www.tessource.net for my Oblivion mods.
The non-linear gameplay translates to hours of entertainment, so when you first play it, make sure you don't have anything important to do that day, because Oblivion will keep you in that chair (or whatever you use) for hours, unless you read this and, just out of spite, do everything in your power not to let what I just said happen. In which case, you'd be a negative person, and I'd have made a false statement.
Yeah. So, anyway, rent or buy?
Well, being a computer game, you can't really "rent" it, so you can either play a demo or just buy it, or be shameful and try to get it the free way, which, hopefully (no offense) won't be successful.
Oblivion's awesome, but I really recommend you get some mods. There are THOUSANDS of mods out there, and a lot of cheats too (some cheats are actually turned into mods, like, I dunno, a god mode cloak), so if you're looking for a good time-sink, and your computer can handle it, get The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 10/24/06
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