Review by Something_funny
"This game lives up to its hype in every way but somhow remains boring (glitchy too)"
He Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is the latest entry in a very popular RPG series. The gameplay is set in a massive, highly interactive world with sandbox-like gameplay along with several major plot lines. The game was hyped to be a world-outside the world, and in a way it is. For a variety of reasons, however, I lost interest in this game in just two weeks.
The gameplay is key to any game, and in Elder Scrolls IV the gameplay is horribly flawed (I'll get to why later, I'll start with the basics). The game allows you to gain experience in individual skills by using that skill. For example, to build up my acrobatics skill I would jump around a lot. Once I had gotten ten level-ups in any of my seven major skills (which are selected from the list of thirty or so skills, which can all still be leveled up even if they are only minor skills instead of major) my character would be able to receive a new level. With new character levels, more equipment would become available, and with improved skill levels, my various skills would become more powerful. The fighting is generally point and click. Left click to attack, hold left click to power attack, right click to block. One can also select a spell and fire it off. The fighting is very simple and easy to get the hang of. You never fight large numbers of enemies and aside from target leading (with bows and spells) there's really no skill involved. The world also features a very weak morality system based on Fame and Infamy. Some quests grant Fame, some grant Infamy, and a very small number give one or the other based on your actions. Crimes can also give your character infamy. The world changes very little based on whether you have fame or infamy, but crimes can get you a bounty, and guards may attack you. The last bit of gameplay is a badly implemented stealth setup that is based far to much on your character's skills and not your own. You can be masterful in where you hide and still be caught simply because you fail the game's skill checks. Still, it's fun to sneak around or assassinate people for money.
Now for a more in depth look at what's wrong with gameplay. First of all, as I mentioned earlier, the fight system is very weak. Very little skill is involved, and basically level and equipment detirimines almost everything. Also, as I mentioned earlier, stealth is based very little on your own skill, and is far more based on the computer's calculations. In addition, the morality system is pathetic. If I play an RPG that gives good/evil options, I want to be able to play with moral decisions in mind. I can't feel like I'm in a real world if I'm never offered real moral options. For example, why is it that there's no quest line opposite to the Dark Brotherhood (assassins guild) quests? Why can't I work with the City Guards to smash the Brotherhood, or join both and play one against the other? The world feels very dull overall, and the supposedly vast amount of dialogue (all voice acted, which is nice) is all very repetitive, and there are only 10 voice actors who did every single voice in the game. There are roughly 1000 NPCs, so roughly 100 NPC characters will sound identical to each other. Also, the world isn't as interactive as I'd like it to be. My magic has no effect upon almost any bit of the scenery, and I feel like I really don't have the impact on the world I'd like to.
All these problems pale in comparison to the final problem: The enemies level up with you. That's right, when you gain a level, and expect to be stronger in relation to your enemies, they are actually all stronger as well. You can never get an edge, so all your leveling is useless. Also, this means the system can be exploited because you don't have to level up. You can just raise your skill levels as much as you like, and never bring up your character level, meaning you will have super powerful skills and your enemies will have nothing. Either way, you never get any fun or satisfaction. The world is always open because the enemies are always roughly the same difficulty towards you. You can never feel any sense of accomplishment, making this game very, very boring.
The graphics are wonderfully detailed and pretty, but they aren't interesting. People look almost real, and houses, silverware, etc. are all marvelously done, but it's still dull. There's no real sense of awe in the game. No one seemed to be interested in designing anything that makes one think "wow!" everything prompts reactions more like "that looks realistic." Everything looks realistic, nothing looks fun. Especially the magic, which looks very underpowered. Why can't I call down powerful lightning bolts from the sky? Why do my fire and ice attacks look like little blobs of color? It's just not that fun to look at, despite the realism.
There's lots of voice acting, but very few voice actors. Often the game designers mixed up who gets whose voice so characters sound all wrong. Fantasy races also have very human sounding voices. Also, the fights sound too realistic. Again, there's simply nothing exciting about it; it's just realistic. Lastly, there's practically no music. The lack of music is a real disappointment.
There are lots of menus, some of which are slightly glitched (I have more to say about the glitches later). There are very few hotkeys you can use, and you have to put lots of different stuff on hotkeys (it's that or navigate annoying menus most of the time you play), so you generally don't have quite enough hotkeys for everything you'll want on them. The controls are very weak, considering how much effort seems to have gone into the game. It would be nice if things were easier, and there were less menus.
I tried to uninstall this game. I can't. The game won't uninstall. It won't update the patch. It won't close normally. With certain graphics settings, it won't start. It will freeze at random times. Quests will be uncompletable. Quests won't start. Quests won't finish. The game is pure chaos. It is nowhere close to complete; it's a disaster.
In conclusion, don't buy this game. It isn't worth it; it isn't fun. It has some nice ideas that I hope will be used in future games. Save your money for those. Also, don't rent this game because the designers expect you to play a really long time, so renting won't really work.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 08/24/06
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