Review by Raistlyn
Time for you to sit down in front of your computer, insert the Oblivion disc into your DVD drive, and play...for seven hours straight. Thing is, you feel like you've only played for 45 minutes. Time flies when you're having fun, doesn't it? Sleep becomes a chore because you accuse it of robbing you of precious gameplay time.
If you don't have hundreds upon hundreds of hours of free time you wish to waste in front of your computer, then this game is not for you. Or maybe it is. Once you start playing it, you just might compromise enough time to get those hundreds upon hundreds of hours. The game is that good.
The one downside to Oblivion is that you must have a fairly decent machine to run it at it's full graphics potential...well, at a good framerate anyway. However, if you're already an avid PC gamer, you probably already have a machine that is more than a match for the games' system requirements. Anyway...to put it bluntly, if you have to run the game under the medium graphics setting, it still looks better than a PS2's graphics capability. The absolute lowest setting looks like a mix between the graphics power of an N64 and a Dreamcast. Not horrid, but definitely in need of an upgrade. At the highest end, well...you just might start commenting on how dull the resolution of real life is. Everything is the province of Cyrodiil shines with a beauty you can only see by looking outside in the real world. The game looks amazing. And that is a massive understatement. Oblivion is just one of those games you have to see to believe. So go ahead, wander around in Cyrodiil and just take in the landscape. There's so much of it to see. Torches illuminate dark caves with their flickering light, fog rolls over cavern floors, and mirror like water reflects everything with superb distorted detail. Graphics alone don't make a good game, but man... It's so pretty!
Sound and Music: 10
Usually the least important attribute of a game. But trust me, when playing Oblivion, your ears do just as much work as your eyes. When sneaking, your footsteps are louder if you wear heavier boots...and your enemies hear this as well. Every slash of the sword, whether it's through air, or the flesh of something that wants to put you down sounds amazing. Every crushing blow of your gigantic war hammer is heard...and I swear, it's like you're there. Every sound in this game is very realistic. The voice acting is well done, and although there are a limited number of NPC voices in the game, it isn't so much of a negative to count against the sound score. Music picks up when you are detected by enemies, and calms when you've dealt with the threat. The music is extraordinary not because it fits the scene you're in, which it does. It's extraordinary in the way that even though it's just in the background, if it wasn't there, you'd miss it. And that is a fact. Play the game for an hour, then turn the music off. It just feels like you just lost an old friend.
The driving force of any game. The lifeblood. Without this, there is no game. Oblivion is downright spectacular in this department. Controls are smooth, easy to learn, and customizable. The learning curve to this game's default controls is about 5 minutes. Seriously. You can just sit down and play it and that's no joke.
The game is very involved right from the get-go when you must create a character. The possible visual combinations are limitless. You choose whether you want to be Male or Female, and each sex has certain strengths and weaknesses when compared to the other. You choose your race, from 10. Imperial, Nord, Reguard, Breton, Khajiit, Argonian, High Elf, Dark Elf, Wood Elf, and Orc. Each race gains bonuses to certain skills and has their own greater powers that are very beneficial to your well being. Early on in the game, you are prompted to choose a birthsign that will grant other bonuses. A bit later on, you get to choose your "class." Or, character specialization. In addition to the many premade build suggestions the game comes with, you can also create a custom class of your own, should you find the game's classes lacking in your favor.
Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is a very open ended game. And the game even tells you this after you're out on your own for the first time. You can complete the quest given to you immediately, or just roam around the vast province of Cyrodiil. Oblivion is so massive, that you could play this game for 50 hours or more and not even sniff the main story quests. That is NOT a lie either, folks. Aside from the lengthy main story series of quests, you can join guilds which come with their own series of quests, become an arena combatant, help needy townsfolk with their problems...or, you could do nothing at all. That's right. You could just wander around in the wilderness, kill off wild animals and bandits, then sell their equipment for profits. You are never instructed to get something done A.S.A.P. You can experience this game at your own pace, and man, you gotta love that!
Because Cyrodiil is so massive, a quick travel option is available from your world map. If you are in the middle of a quest that requires you to travel the globe, you can click on any of the icons on your map to instantly travel there. You miss out on fights, which can increase your skills, but you also save yourself a 20 minute horse ride. This is a great feature, as there are quests in the game that require you to go from town to town.
Oh...we're not done with gameplay yet! Because we have MODS! Ah, yes. Mods for this game are plentiful and can enhance your game experience by introducing new items, new places to visit, new quests, new characters...well, you get the idea. Bethesda has several official mods which you must pay for, but a lot of the fan-made mods are free for download. If you happen to seriously finish Oblivion (I'd guess anywhere between 120-180 hours your first time through) these can add a bit of spice to the game.
Oblivion never really gets boring though. It keeps you coming back...and it makes you wish that you didn't have to go in to work the next day.
Replay Value: 10
You have 10 races to choose from, and a virtually limitless combination of character classes to choose from. So if you've beaten the game as a combat specialized Orc, try it the next time through with a magic specialized Breton. Or a stealthy Khajiit. Or whatever you can think of. You'll never get bored.
This game is perfect. That's it. Nothing else can describe this game. Perfection. If you don't have it, it's time you bought it. If you have it, it's time you started playing again.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 11/02/06
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