Review by TheGr8Blumpking
"A timeless classic that still stands tall"
Back in 2006 while I was rockin' my PS2 Bethesda released a single player RPG on the Xbox 360 and PC. An epic tale of kings, thieves, cults, mages, gladiators, and a lowly prisoner unfolded itself on the world, and it was good. For the first time ever, I finally picked up Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, lemme tell ya bout it. After playing Fallout 3 a few years ago, I got pretty interested in what Bethesda had to offer. I had always head that Oblivion was a great game, but never got around to playing it, but with Skyrim on the horizon I decided it was high time I pick up it's predecessor. Though the game has a few problems with glitches, loading problems, a forgettable main story, quirky dialog and characters, it is also packed with adventure, fantastic side quests, and tons of awesome loot.
I started playing Oblivion and was immediately sucked in; I really enjoy games that take place in a different era than our own or a different universe for that matter. No gun battles or space ships flying around, but tales of mages battling orcs or a thief stealing from a great king and then fleeing his royal knights in the shadows of the forest. Personally I have always been more of a stealthy thief type, so that is the role I chose. I starting through the sewers of the Imperial City fighting off rats and emerged out into the open realm of Cyrodiil. Naturally, knowing this was a Bethesda game; I immediately ignored the main quest and ran off on my own to venture out into this beautiful world. I get lost in these types of games with people giving you quests from left to right. First I helped some man get some fish, and then I helped a lady with her rat problem. I then found my way into an arena and began to battle. I started as a lowly Pit Dog, and slowly but surely I scratched and clawed my way up in rank to become Grand Champion of the arena. If you couldn't tell, I usually tend to lean towards the good side of morality scales; I assume that stems from that fact that most games don't have too many benefits from being bad. This led me towards a tough decision when I woke up from my slumber the next day and a man cloaked in black approached me. He asked me to kill for him I was shocked, but at the same time curious. To be part of a group based on killing, but the thrill of sneaking around for a mysterious organization of death. So I picked up my dagger, and followed him.
One of the great aspects of Oblivion is the character development. You can choose from various races, each having their own advantages. There are also several skills a player can develop in, from the use of a blade, a shield, magic, ability to sneak or athletic skill. You choose seven skills to be your major skills, and as those skills increase, so does the players level. The way to increase skill level is the best way I know of, by using them. The more you sneak around, the more your sneak skill increases, if you swim or run a lot, your athletics increases. I am not sure why Bethesda moved away from this in Fallout 3. In FO:3 you gain experience by killing enemies, finding locations, or completing tasks, then after enough experience is gained you level up and are given a number of points to allot to increasing your skill. This is not a bad system, but you don't always know what skills you will be using most, so sometimes you can allot points to skills you don't use much. There is a similar problem in Oblivion, at the very begging of the game, it has you choose your seven skills that you want to be the ones effecting your leveling. Unfortunately I didn't know how I was going to be playing the game and 3 of the skills I chose, I never really ended up using. It might have been more effective to have the skills you use most be your major skills, switching according to how you play. Perks are handled very well in the game, each skill has four different perks that go along with it and as you increase each skill every 25 points awards you with a new perk. For example once your acrobatics reaches level 100 you unlock with fourth perk, which allows you to jump off the surface of water.
I don't plan on addressing the main quest line too much in this review. It was meager and uninteresting, not bad; it just failed to capture my attention. The main quest wasn't very long, and it was very repetitive, but it did have an interesting concept. The King has died and Cyrodiil has been left without an heir to the throne, but there is another Skywalker, I mean Septim. So it turns out there is an heir to the thrown and you must quest to find him. The downside is you pretty much find him right away, and the quest is quite uneventful. Needless to say the rest of the main quest line follows in boring suite. What did pull me in were the various guild quest lines. The stories were very in depth, with interesting characters that I actually cared about. The main guild quest lines are exciting and very in depth, causing you to explore the vast terrain of Cyrodiil and meet an array of people who help you, and those who try to stop you. You can join the Mages Guild and take place in the conflict between the Mages and the growing forces of the Necromancers. The Thieves Guild is a mysterious group, who some say doesn't exist, but others say it is run by a master thief know as the Gray Fox. The way quest screen is organized is very helpful, from switching between active quests, to displaying on the map where your active quest is pointing you, the process is very smooth. These exciting quests along with the extensive land of Cyrodiil add a great deal to the game. The graphics are slightly dated, but the game is 5 years old, and I know when it came out it looked great for its time. Even though there are much better looking games, I can still appreciate the time that went into making this game look as good as it does.
When all is said and done, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is a fantastic game. There is much adventuring to be done, and a lot of fun to be had. There are very few problems, aside from some loading times, and a couple of game freezes. Overall, the combination of the skills you can specialize in, the wide variety of loot and items, and the quests make this game a must play. It has a expansive world to explore and a lot of people to meet. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is coming out soon, and it looks like they have taken a great thing and made it even better.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 04/25/13
Game Release: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (US, 03/20/06)
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