Review by Gaian

"A good, but not flawless, game"

Oblivion, for those who don't know, is the fourth in Bethesda's Elder Scrolls Series. Of these other works, I have only played Morrowind, and I will draw many comparisons between the two.

*****PROS*****

In essence the Elder Scrolls series is about freedom. The freedom to make your own way through a world, search out your own methods of conquering, or embracing, evil. You can make friends, enemies, join guilds, take on quests, rob, murder, train. The possibilities are limitless in the Elders Scrolls series, and Oblivion is no exception.

Oblivion has several strengths, the largest of which is beauty. Oblivion is gorgeous. Period. The affects, models, textures have all been done with amazing care. One feature that I particularly liked was the "Sims 2 "-esque ability to shape your character's face at the beginning of the game; it is a feature I think Morrowind was sorely lacking.

Oblivions second strength is it's overhauled combat system. Where Morrowind was essentially a hack and slash, Oblivion is more of a dance. Bethesda has introduced several features to give you more free and dynamic combat. You can manually block attacks, and by training your weapon attributes you can gain abilities to disarm, or paralyze an opponent. Overall, the overhaul is welcome in adding richness to the game.

Oblivion also uses a very talked about "Radiant AI" where the same systems that govern your character also govern NPCs. Essentially, NPCs and monsters are smarter and more lifelike. Characters will eat, sleep, use items, go different places on different days of the week and times of day; it's another layer of atmosphere to this game.

New types of gameplay have also been added. There are new speechcraft and lockpick minigames to persuade characters and open chests, which I find very entertaining. Also horses have been added, and a new fast travel system has been added which allows the player to quickly jump around the map without all the hours of running which plagued Morrowind; now most locations are just a click away.

*****CONS*****

Oblivion is not without it's flaws however. Each improvement or pro to the game tends to come with its own unique flaw. The graphics for example, while beautiful, take a hell of a lot to run. The framerate can be very erratic, and the visuals may be beautiful, but magic tends to make combat very frantic. It can be very easy to be blinded by a mage's spell and suddenly find yourself dead on the ground.

My main complaint of Oblivion is oversimplification. Compared to Morrowind, Oblivion is a game for those easily confused by menus and options, and because of this the freedom the made Morrowind so great, has been severely reduced. There are many examples of this which I will outline below.

First, your options of armor and weapons have been cut. I spent the first 10 hours of my Morrowind experience running around collecting all the cool artifacts I could, Oblivion has very few. There are no longer spears, or crossbows. There are fewer armor types, and far fewer unique items to be found. In essence, the charm of a world full of mythical treasures has been removed.

Next, comes the much hated leveled creature and item system. Every area of Oblivion contains items and monsters that change as you level up; by level 25 every bandit you come across with by wearing a full suit of daedric armor. This also takes the freedom out of Oblivion. Before if I found an area too difficult I could train, come back and win. Now, by leveling up I will be making enemies more skilled and better equipped, maintaining difficulty despite level. I am now forced to use certain items because of my level and fight certain monsters because of my level and all of it reduces the freedom of the world.

***** CONCLUSIONS *****

Overall, Oblivion is a very fun game. I enjoy playing it, and I think most people will too. There are endless hours of gameplay to be found, and once you're done that you can find mods online and add hours more too it. But you should be prepared for a more constricted world. This game doesn't have the same freedom that Morrowind allowed, so if you are hoping for that experience, you may want to look elsewhere.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 04/03/06


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